Salzburg with Kids: Finding Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary composers and musical genius of all time. I’m embarrassed to admit visiting Mozart’s birthplace or anything related to him didn’t even cross my mind when we were planning our trip to Salzburg, Austria. In recent years, Salzburg’s biggest draw has been the Sound of Music Tours to visit the popular movie’s film locations which was our plan. But, we found that Mozart was actually everywhere while walking the streets of Salzburg and in surprisingly different ways.
We first caught sight of the ubiquitous Mozart as we walked down the pedestrian shopping street of Getreidegasse. There were colorful window displays of Mozart and some creative souvenirs.
The yellow “Hagenauer House” at Getreidegasse 9 is one of Salzburg’s most visited attraction. You can tell with the number of tourists snapping photos of it. Mozart was born here on Jan 27, 1756 and where he spent part of his childhood.
It has now been turned into a small museum. We visited the museum but no photography was allowed inside. But, I did sneak in a couple of pictures for this blog’s sake. We went through the original rooms with exhibits, portraits, family artifacts and personal letters. Many of the signs had English translations. The kids preferred seeing the musical instruments though. Mozart’s musical instruments were displayed including his violin, harpsichord and piano from his childhood.
My kids’ piano teacher introduced Mozart to them a few years ago so I’m glad they had some idea of who this musical genius was. I didn’t discover Mozart until we had to watch the movie Amadeus in junior high. It was humbling to see where he was born. The museum was also a historical tour of life in the 18th century in Salzburg and a glimpse into the Mozart family history.
Since it was raining during our visit, it got pretty crowded in these small rooms with low ceilings and narrow staircases. Though, the museum was arranged and laid out well. The kids’ favorite part was the small area with computers that had interactive activities to learn more about Mozart and his music. It was hard for us to comprehend a 5-year-old child writing compositions and performing them before European royalty.
The Mozart family moved into this much bigger house from 1773 to 1780 in Makart Square across from the river. We didn’t get the chance to go in here but visitors can see four historic keyboards and where Mozart spent his time as a teenager.
An imposing statue of Mozart has been the centerpiece of Mozartplatz Square since 1842.
It’s not a very large square, by European standards, but is centrally located in the Old Town. This monument was the first one dedicated to him.
We also passed by the Mozarteum Conservatory and Research Center. This was the first center dedicated to studying Mozart and his music. Many concerts are held in its hall.
The Salzburg Cathedral dominates part of Salzburg’s skyline. Don’t miss a visit to see its beautiful ornate interior. There were a lot of artwork and organs inside. Mozart was baptized here and the baptismal font still stands near the entrance.
Mozart was once an organist here too. How remarkable would it have been to witness young Mozart play those organs back then. We were lucky enough to be here when a choir was practicing and it was a perfect accompaniment during our visit.
Mozart Week is hosted every year around his birthday. The Mozarteum Foundation Salzburg hosts this special celebration with operas and various music concerts. This event was first held in 1956 to bring people all over the world to showcase Mozart’s music and appreciate the enormous contribution he made to the world.
We saw the Mozart Dinner Concert advertised on brochures around Salzburg. This unique event is held at a hall in candlelight with the ambience and almost authenticity of Salzburg in 1790. This meant a historical menu and musicians wearing costumes from that period performing Mozart’s music. It sounded interesting and one I actually would have liked attending. Though, I don’t think I could have dragged my husband and kids to this dinner. Lucky for them, we didn’t stay overnight in Salzburg.
Not surprisingly, even Salzburg’s W. A. Mozart airport is named after its famous son. But, there was nothing more abundant around Salzburg than various chocolate shops and souvenir stores selling the Mozartkugel (Mozart chocolate balls) and first known as a Mozartbonbon.
The original Salzburg Mozartkugeln was first created by a confectioner, Paul Fürst, in 1884 in honor of Mozart. It was a green pistachio marzipan ball, covered in nougat layer and coated with chocolate. Over the years, other confectioners copied the recipe with different variations to the name and recipe. The original Fürst chocolates (in blue covers) are still made by hand and sold at three stores around Salzburg.
As a family of chocolate lovers, we had our fair share of Mozartkugels. They were delicious and so addicting. Let’s just say some bags didn’t make it back home.
Finding Mozart and learning about his life and music in Salzburg was a pleasant surprise. Mozart’s music and memory is very much alive in this historic city and his hometown. So, if you make it to Salzburg, keep your eyes open for different tributes to Mozart. I don’t think my kids will forget Mozart anytime soon. How can you with souvenirs like these?
Have you followed Mozart’s path in Salzburg or had a Mozartkugel?
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