This statue of Mozart stands in Salzburg’s Mozartplatz (Mozart Square). // © 2015 iStock
Feature image (above): In addition to being Mozart’s birthplace, Salzburg was the setting for the beloved film “The Sound of Music.” // © 2015 iStock
Vienna, Austria, is widely acknowledged as a capital of classical music, but for a traveler who prefers a more leisurely exploration of high art, Salzburg is a wise choice. Not only is Salzburg quaint and friendly — with its narrow streets, centuries-old buildings, beer gardens and great ice cream shops — it's also the birthplace of one of the world’s most prolific classical composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The classical music heritage in Salzburg isn’t an imposing, aristocratic legacy kept under guard or behind opera house doors. It’s woven into the fabric of the city. For example, music floats from windows and courtyards during the summertime Salzburg Music Festival, when opera singers trill through their scales all day, like glorious, angelic birds. In Salzburg, classical music is, most definitely, still mainstream.
Visitors can make the most of their time in Salzburg by retracing Mozart’s steps and then branching out to other important musical landmarks. What follows are some of the top things to see and do in Austria’s fourth-largest city.
Mozarts Geburtshaus, the house where Mozart was born in 1756, is now a museum and spiritual center of Salzburg’s beloved classical legacy. From the outside, it’s quite easy to spot, thanks to canary-yellow paint and elaborate signage on the front facade.
Inside, it’s fairly sparse and humble, with displays of period furniture, family art and musical scores. The most fascinating objects on display are probably the musical instruments Mozart owned from childhood, including a violin and a clavichord (stringed keyboard).
Another early home of Mozart’s, Mozart Wohnhaus (or Mozart’s Residence) is located across the Salzach River bridge from his birthplace. Mozart’s Residence is really more for Mozart aficionados than general tourists, however. This smaller attraction focuses on the everyday family life of the music prodigy. Visitors should note that the building was almost completely destroyed during World War II and rebuilt in the mid-1990s.
A beautiful jewel box of a concert hall housed in a former minister’s villa, Stiftung Mozarteum is also a music school. During Salzburg Festival, visitors will pass the world’s brightest up-and-coming stars in the halls.
Nearly all of the Salzburg Festival concerts — not to be confused with operas or “drama” productions — are held at this location. Performances include voice recitals, chamber concerts, the Young Singers Project final concert and the Mozart Matinees.
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
A more modern musical legacy of Salzburg is “The Sound of Music.” The city welcomes many visitors who wish to see the sites where the beloved Von Trapp family had their adventures. The stunning baroque gardens encompass many film locations including Pegasus Statue Fountain, Dwarf Garden and Hedge Theater. This last site is a good place to catch performances or rehearsals by talented amateur and student musicians.
Mozart Dinner Concert
Do your clients want to enjoy an evening of 18th-century-style, high-end entertainment? Send them to the dinner concert in Baroque Hall Stiftskeller St. Peter. Guests dine on a traditional menu while enjoying a three-part music program featuring selections from Mozart’s best-loved operas. If there’s any doubt as to the authenticity of this experience, inform clients that Mozart performed here as a child and even attended some events as a spectator.
Cafe Konditorei Furst
Regardless if clients’ appetites are for classical music or history or horticulture, everyone has room for the mouthwatering pastries served at Cafe Konditorei Furst. This famous sweet spot is the home of Salzburger Mozartkugel, aka the “Mozart chocolate ball,” but also serves a variety of truffles, marzipan confections, traditional Austrian cakes and hot beverages.