“A phenomenon such as Mozart always remains a miracle that cannot be explained further.”

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Mozart statue in Salzburg
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Exterior of one of the Mozart homes – this is the home the family moved to when they outgrew the apartments where Mozart was born
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Exterior of the home where Mozart was born

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 1756 in the city of Salzburg. He was born into a musical family but would eclipse them all. Mozart famously was composing by the age of 5 after having mastered both the violin and piano by that point. His parents toured him and his sister Nannerl all over the royal courts of Europe, proving that the child star is not a new phenomenon at all. The influential composer would go on to create over 600 works in many genres: operas, symphonies, concertos, chamber music, and choral pieces, in his relatively short life, and his impact on Western culture continues today.

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Courtyard at the larger Mozart home
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Model of the music room in the larger Mozart home

Mozart moved from Salzburg to Vienna in his 20s, married Constanze, after having fallen in love with her sister some years before, and had six children with Constanze of whom 2 boys survived to adulthood before his untimely death of an illness at the age of 35. Constanze managed Mozart’s estate and legacy after his death and remarried some years later. Her second husband was apparently a Mozart admirer.

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Look, Mom! I’m a Genius, according to the Mozart Museum. In truth, for a museum about an actual genius, they were a little fast-and-loose with the term.

Mozart is reputed to have been unappreciated and poverty-stricken during his lifetime, but that’s not strictly true. Mozart was very popular and well-paid; he just liked to gamble and lived well beyond his means (*cough* child star). He lived in 13 different places in his 10 years in Vienna. Luckily, his family home was in Salzburg, and his father was much better at managing money, so the two homes where the Mozart family lived are museums dedicated to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart today.

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Two lessons were compelling after visiting the Mozart museums: 1. He was not a looker
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2. He was quite short.

The Mozart homes are on either side of the Salzach River. KW and I started with the larger, later of the two near our hotel. The family moved to this home when they outgrew the other one. Some of the treasures on display are several instruments owned by the family and played by Mozart himself, humorous targets the family used for indoor shooting practice (not kidding), diaries and letters among the family, and various portrait reproductions. Apparently many of the portraits of Mozart were faked – if the man is attractive, it isn’t him. The museum is very emphatic on this point: Mozart was not a looker. The audio guide in this museum was great, including portions from his most famous works with the narration.

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Mozart gives his (attractiveness-enhanced) image to a series of candies throughout Austria, lovingly called “Mozart Balls.” They are chocolate-covered marzipan and taste better than that sounds.

Next KW and I crossed the Mozart Bridge over the Salzach, made famous in Sound of Music, and went to the original Mozart home in Old Town. This is where the famous composer was born. You can see the rooms where the family lived, and the rest of the building covers Mozart’s life, both in Salzburg and Vienna. My favorite part of this museum is an incredible display of various sets for stage design of his operas, historic and present.

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Mozart Bridge across the Salzach River in Salzburg

It’s amazing how much each of these museums has of Mozart’s possessions and personal documents. Perusing them was fascinating, even if pictures weren’t allowed in most of the rooms.

Title quote: Johann Wolfgang Goethe in 1831

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