Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was the original musical prodigy, an eighteenth-century pop idol whose fame took him to Vienna, Prague and the capitals of Europe, and in the years since his death he has become an industry. No Mozart connection, however slight, is ignored. There are Mozart views to savour, Mozart chocolates to devour and any amount of Mozart kitsch to consume. Brushing all that aside, however, the music remains. And there is no better place to hear it than in Mozart’s beautiful, Baroque home town.
Mozart was the Salzburg-born son of a court musician who swiftly recognized his son’s musical ability – junior gave his first performance before the court of Prince-Archbishop Sigismund Graf von Schrattenbach, amid the splendour of the Salzburg Residenz, at the tender age of six. These days, the best opportunity for serious fans to hear Mozart in Salzburg is during the annual Mozartwoche (Mozart Week), which takes place at the Mozarteum and the Festspielhaus around the time of the composer’s birthday (January 27), and which each year focuses on a particular aspect of the composer’s work.
You can hear his music in glorious historic surroundings at any time of the year. Much the most luxurious are the candlelit Mozart dinner concerts in the hall of the Stiftskeller St Peter restaurant in St Peter monastery, where you eat food prepared according to recipes from the 1900s while opera singers in eighteenth-century costume perform arias and duets from Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute. Occasional dinner concerts are also held in the mighty medieval fortress that towers above the city. But if you’re in more reflective mood, the Mozart Requiem is regularly performed at the Kollegienkirche, the university church whose Baroque magnificence matches in stone the splendour of Mozart’s genius.
Mozartwoche (www.mozarteum.at); Fortress concerts (www.mozartfestival.at); dinner concerts at Stiftskeller St Peter & Mozart Requiem at the Kollegienkirche (www.salzburg-concerts.com).