Having Beers With Mozart in Salzburg

No doubt if I would be having beers with Wolfgang Mozart in Salzburg, he probably wouldn’t have a lot of good things to say. In between swigs of his Stiegl, he’d complain about his salary, personal loathing of his employer Prince-Archbishop Hieronymous Colloredo, and his boredom of Salzburg. I’d roll my eyes and listen. Yeah, Salzburg is small. I get it. Too small for a primadonna who spent the first 25 years of his life either traveling around the great cities of Europe as a child prodigy or trying to find a job outside of Salzburg.

Hohensalzburg Fortress

It is strange imagining someone like Mozart struggling for most of his life to “find a job” or rather finding a better job. We look at him now as a bonafide superstar. But in an age where the religious elite did not like to share the attention, Mozart found himself in a thankless situation. Confined as a court organist with an employer who was more interested in the affairs of the archbishopric than being concerned with Mozart’s ambitions, Mozart behaved like any diva would. On a paid trip to Vienna to accompany the archbishop to attend the accession of Joseph II as the new Holy Roman Emperor, Mozart refused to return to Salzburg. He wrote several letters to his exasperated father which amounted to temper tantrums, and eventually Colloredo washed his hands of the whole business, never officially acknowledging Mozart’s letter of resignation. During his years in Vienna, Mozart wrote his most famous operas such as The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, and The Marriage of Figaro, but he never achieved the financial success or position as the Emperor’s court composer (held by Salieri) that he wanted. Of course, part of the reason for the latter was that Mozart died in Vienna in 1791 at the age of 35.

A 129 euro Mozart bear

The whole time I’d be sitting there drinking with Mozart, I’d be praying that he wouldn’t bring up his funeral. Mozart was buried in an unmarked customary grave for common folk in St. Marx Cemetery in Vienna.

Today, Salzburg is kind of like the divorced wife who enjoys flaunting all of her ex-husband’s wealth and notoriety. It is full of sites associated with Mozart and Mozart’s family and gives no impression of the haste with which Mozart dismissed the city. The Prince-Archbishopric of Salzburg was secularized during the Napoleon era and 200 years later, bygones are bygones. I spent an afternoon checking off these sites as I was doing blog research for my Brewtiful Salzburg post.

Mozarts Geburtshaus

Mozart was born here in 1756. The Mozart family lived in an apartment in this building from 1747 to 1773.

Mozarts Geburtshaus

Mozart’s Baptismal Font

The day after his birth, Mozart was baptized in the Salzburger Dom.

Salzburger Dom
Salzburger Dom (interior)
Mozart’s Baptismal Font (upon entering the cathedral, take an immediate left)

Zum Eulenspiegel Restaurant

Besides being a cute restaurant cafe opposite Mozarts Geburtshaus, there is a plaque that says Mozart Lived Here. In 1771, Mozart’s father Leopold was considering to move out of their apartment to alleviate the cramped living conditions. According to Stanley Sadie’s Mozart The Early Years (2005), Leopold gave his wife Maria Anna a few options to choose from including an apartment opposite Mozarts Geburtshaus on what was known as Löchlplatz. Which one she chose seems to be wishful thinking by the restaurant. The Mozarts eventually moved out altogether in 1773 to the next site.

Zum Eulenspiegel opposite Mozarts Geburtshaus

Mozart Wohnhaus

His family lived here until his father died in 1787. Wolfgang moved out in 1780.

Mozartplatz

The square contains the statue of Mozart erected on the 50th anniversary of his death. The pedestal was donated by King Ludwig I, the grandfather of the Swan King himself, Mad King Ludwig II.

Mozartplatz

Mozart Bust on Kapuzinerberg

This bust commemorates the location that was the site of the garden house where Mozart composed The Magic Flute. The house itself was moved from Vienna to Salzburg in 1877 and remained there until 1948 when it had to be demolished due to extensive war damage.

The Mozart Bust on Kapuzinerberg

Zipfer Bierhaus (residence of Mozart’s sister Nannerl)

According to the plaque, Nannerl lived here from 1801 until her death in 1829.

Zipfer Bierhaus

Monument to Nannerl in St. Peter’s Abbey

St. Peter’s Abbey is the oldest continuously existing monastery in the German speaking countries. It was founded in 696, and it also contains the oldest library in Austria. Inside the church is a monument dedicated to Nannerl, who is buried on abbey grounds next to the entrance of the catacombs.

Nannerl’s Tomb

Nannerl’s Tomb

Sites I Missed

  • Mozart’s father Leopold’s gravesite – St. Sebastian’s Cemetery

Mozartkugeln

I am not a big chocolate and candy guy, but one of the rare times when I will indulge is when I am in Salzburg. Perhaps my favorite Mozart site of all is Mozartkugeln, the chocolate confectionary made with marzipan, that has its origins in Salzburg. Mozartkugeln was invented by a confectioner named Paul Fürst in 1890. Since then there have been many competitors which has led to legal battles over names and designs. The Paul Fürst brand is the only one allowed to use the term “original” and is in a ball shape. Another famous local handmade brand is Josef Holzermayr who is required to have one flat side. While there are several other brands, the two most famous factory-made brands are Mirabell and Reber. Mirabell is allowed to make theirs into a ball shape while Reber is not only forced to have a flat side , but also put a hyphen between Mozart and kugeln, as Mozart-kugeln. For a chocolate, this is complicated business.

One joy of exploring Salzburg is visiting the Mozartkugeln shops, especially around the Alter Markt. Paul Fürst also has a nice outdoor cafe seating area. If you visit the famous Friedhof St. Peter cemetery, just on the right as you enter from the Stiftsbackerei St. Peter, you can see the burial site of Paul Fürst.

The outdoor cafe of Paul Fürst
Paul Fürst
Josef Holzermayr
Reber
Mirabell is everywhere
Gravesite of Paul Fürst, inventor of Mozartkugeln

Final Words

Today, 240 years after Mozart last earned a paycheck in Salzburg, Salzburg makes gazillions on Mozart tourism. Mozart would be beside himself and would probably make a difficult drinking partner as I broke the news. I can only imagine his critique of the countless concerts held all over the city. There is a fine line between admiration and exploitation. But is there anywhere else in the world so linked to a composer? Quick, what is the city of Bach? Beethoven? Not so easy is it. Perhaps rather than looking at Salzburg as exploiting Mozart’s fame, it is the city giving the recognition that Mozart deserved in life and at the same time creating livelihoods for so many. After copious beers and seeing Mozart’s mood gradually deteriorating, it would be suboptimal to mention the 129 euro stuffed bear impersonating Mozart selling in the shops, and I would slink away back out into the city of Mozart that I love. With every frustrated slam of his beer mug though, somewhere the ghost of Colloredo is laughing.

M.G.G.P.

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