As the German city of Augsburg attempts to rival Salzburg for the coveted title of City of Mozart, we take a look at Austria’s most celebrated links with the world of classical music and indeed how the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert and Strauss continue to play a pivotal role in the culture and heritage of both the musical powerhouses that are Salzburg and Vienna.
Without doubt, Salzburg is best known as the birthplace of Mozart and homages to this musical genius can be found throughout the city, from museums and statues to buildings and squares. Mozart’s birthplace, the Gerburtshaus, is an absolute must on any Salzburg city break, today meticulously preserved as a museum containing some of the great composer’s original instruments such as his piano, violin and harpsichord.
Whilst in Salzburg, take time also to visit Mozart’s residence where the family lived in the late 18th century, faithfully reconstructed and reopened to the public in 1996 after being destroyed in World War II. In addition to the Mozart Sound and Film Collection, no Mozart pilgrimage would be complete without the obligatory stop at the composer’s bronze statue in Mozartplatz, overlooked by the Residenz Neugebäude with its intricate 18th-century musical clock.
As well as Salzburg (and indeed Augsburg!), Mozart also had close ties with Vienna, living as he did at a dozen different addresses in the city. Only one of these addresses – Domgasse 5 – still exists and today plays host to the Mozarthaus, offering a fascinating overview of the composer’s time in Vienna. Indeed it was here that he penned perhaps his most popular opera, The Marriage of Figaro.
A veritable city of music, Vienna is the perfect short break destination for anyone with an appreciation of the classical composers, for not only does it have strong links with Mozart, the Austrian capital was home also to Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert and Strauss. Haydnhaus, situated just a short distance outside of Vienna in Gumpendorf is well worth a visit (it also houses a special room dedicated to Brahms) and for fans of Beethoven, the city hosts not one but three former residences – the Pasqualatihaus, Wohnung Heiligenstadt and Eroicahaus – now open for public appreciation.
Situated in the Viennese suburb of Himmelpfortgrund meanwhile, Schubert’s birthplace, the Schubert Geburtshaus, pays homage not only to his talents as a composer, but also as a painter, with some 50 paintings on display. Equally, the Schubert Sterbewohnung, near Naschmarkt, is where the composer composed his last works before his death including The Shepherd on the Rock.
Last but not least, the Johann Strauss Museum is set in the former home of the ‘Waltz King’ in which The Blue Danube, Austria’s unofficial national anthem, was composed. Seeking to recreate the atmosphere and interior of the period, the museum contains exhibits including a baby grand piano presented to Strauss in 1896, his harmonium and a collection of mementos from balls and dances of the time. It also offers an insight into Strauss’ private persona, not least his lesser-known prowess as a caricaturist.