Experience the spirit, history and music of Mozart in Austria http://www.offbeattravel.com/austria-mozart.html

Walking in Mozart's Footsteps through Austria

The spirit and the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart fills the streets of the two major towns associated with his life and his music -- Salzburg and Vienna.


I begin my trip in Salzburg, the picturesque town where Mozart was born to a bandmaster of the court of the Prince Archbishop on January 27, 1756. The prodigy left for Vienna at age 25 and died in the capital ten years later.

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Don't miss the souvenir shops selling Mozart kuchen (cake), chocolate candy filled with marzipan and pistachio named for the composer. In addition to its enviable perch on the River Salzbach the Hotel Sacher is also home to the world-famous Sacher torte, a dark chocolate cake filled with apricot. Dating from 1832, its recipe is a well-kept secret. Though many restaurants offer it, none can match the elegance of the original, packed in a wooden box.

Compact and walkable, Salzburg offers many sights, including the Fortress, the festival halls and Mozart Square. But I'm here for primarily music. At the Mozart Dinner Concert, local artists dressed in period attire perform a three-part music program while a candlelight dinner, based on 17th and 18th century recipes is served in Stiftskeller St. Peter, the oldest restaurant in central Europe. Talk about reliving history.


Mozart found his greatest acclaim in the cafe society of Vienna. Though Mozart lived in a dozen addresses in the city, only one survived. The Mozarthaus, located at Domgasse No. 5, is where he lived in grand style from 1784 to 1787 and created the Marriage of Figario. Its opening coincides with his birthday. No visit to Vienna would be complete without stopping into one of the many coffeehouses, each, explains a guide, has its own constituency, such as civil servants or artists. The best have elegant interiors with velvet upholstery, dark wood and chandeliers and serve generous slices of not-too-sweet apple strudel dusted with powder sugar.

A visit to the Vienna State Opera is de rigueur; the night I attended Mozart's The Magic Flute was performed with impressive costuming and sets. You can walk to many of Vienna's attractions, including The Spanish Riding School, home of the dancing white stallions, and St. Stephen's Cathedral, the most important Gothic building in city. As I amble through Karlsplatz Park before dinner, a pair of old men play accordions, the tunes by turn, jaunty and mournful.

You can catch a red tram in front of the hotel to nearly everything else. The Belevdere, where the Prince of Savoy summered, houses acclaimed Viennese painter Gustav Klimt's most famous work, The Kiss. At the gold-domed, Art Nouveau-styled Seccession Museum opposite the Naschmakt Produce Market, you can view the Beethoven Frieze, which interprets his Ninth Symphony. The Schoenbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Habsburgs, is where, at age 5, Mozart performed for the Imperial Court. As the sun sets, the ocher walls glow.

Several restaurants offer a culinary taste of old Vienna. Griechenbeisl is the city's oldest restaurant, dating from 1447. While a woman plays the zither, I feast on dishes from the old and new worlds: boar carpaccio, pappardelle with wild mushrooms and chicken, apricot ice cream dumplings. Unassuming from the outside, Zum Finsteren Stern, on a quiet side street, serves Austrian dishes similar to those Mozart would have eaten, such as paprika chicken with butter spaetzle.

On my final night, I attend the Musikverein, a Mozart concert performed with historical costumes at the golden hall with its splendid acoustics famed for the annual New Year's Vienna Philharmonic recital. Afterward, I stroll the Karntner Strasse, admiring the windows, their displays lit like glittering jewels under the inky sky. Mozart once walked this very street.

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A former Navy brat who traveled and lived abroad extensively, Suzanne Wright is a fulltime, freelance writer. She has written numerous travel, food and decor features for numerous international, national and regional publications. Her articles have appeared in Elite Traveler, Wine & Spirits, Veranda, Atlanta Magazine, The Tennessean, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, Piedmont Review, Charlotte Place, Where, On Magazine and others. A suitcase is always packed and her passport always up to date.

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author

Updated: January 7, 2017

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