When in Austria, you can’t miss a trip to Salzburg, and in Salzburg, you can’t miss the legendary musician Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756. He was a composer in the days of Viennese classicism. He rose to become a world-class musician with his symphonies, operas, concertos, serenades and chamber music etc. and became immortal along with the likes of Beethoven and Hayden.
Now Salzburg is a picture-perfect scenic town of Austria which has evolved over centuries along the banks of Salzach River. The old town of Salzburg has been preserved as a typical historic European town with cobbled streets and horse carriages for transport.
One enters the old city through the Mozart square with the Mozart statue standing tall in the centre of the square. The statue was erected in 1842 many decades after Mozart’s death.
Walking through the narrow alleys of Salzburg, you end up at the famous Getreidegasse, one of the oldest business streets, lined with designer shops with standard wrought iron guild signs. Walking some distance down the street, there is Getreidegasse 9, a yellow coloured four storey building. It was here that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 1756 to a musician Leopold Mozart.
The place is now owned by International Mozarteum Foundation and has been converted into a Museum, displaying Mozart’s memorabilia including his childhood violin, concert violin, documents and portraits from his life including an unfinished oil painting Mozart at piano.
Crossing one of the several bridges over River Salzach, one enters the other part of the town which though less historic is equally vibrant. One can’t miss Mozart’s residence in the Market Square.
When Mozart was 17, the small house at Getreidegasse 9 became insufficient for the big family and the musician father was very particular that Mozart be given his own space for writing and playing music. Hence, in his teenage years, Mozart shifted to this relatively big house on the other side of the river where he would receive other musicians and would compose one of the best musical arts this world would ever know.
Roaming around Mozart’s statue, his birthplace and museum, his domineering presence took on me and so I decided to buy something that would remind me of Mozart for a long time.
The souvenir shop at Getreidegasse 9 displayed numerous memorabilia; the options included Mozartkugel chocolates, Amadeus DVDs, fridge magnets, pictures and mugs etc. But my eyes were fixed on those neat tiny mechanical machines. The manager of the shop told me those machines play different serenades and symphonies composed by Mozart, Beethoven and others.
These simple music machines are run manually to play the serenades and I literally played most of the compositions available. Realising that the manager was looking suspicious, probably contemplating, whether I am there just to have free fun or actually buy something, I selected two of them. One was Kleine Nachtmusik serenade composed in 1787 by Mozart and the other was another classic For Elise by Beethoven.
These serenades when played in the silence of the night have a trance-like effect. Apart from the sheer musical excellence, they take you to the 18th century Salzburg where people composed music, watched operas and walked along Salzach River in the evenings.
Both of these tiny music machines are now part of my souvenir display at home and are played at times with relish and nostalgia of bygone times.