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Art & Culture

5 fun-facts about Mozart that will surprise you

Wolfgang is everywhere. At this point, Salzburg has become quite expert in transforming the cult surrounding this great composer into rubber ducks, chocolate balls and perfumes. For some that’s a little over the top, others are more than a little irritated that this musical genius is being kitschified. But whatever your opinion – there is always something new to discover about Mozart!

Wolfgang Amadé Mozart was born in 1756 on the third floor of a bright yellow house on Getreidegasse. Back in those days it was still known as the “Upper Hagenauer House on the Fish Market”, while today it is quite simply No. 9 Getreidegasse. Thousands of people make a pilgrimage here every day in order to pay homage to their great idol, or simply to check off another box in their to-do list during their stop-off in Salzburg. That said, there is so much more to discover if you actually venture up the stairs into the museum. We paid a visit to it ourselves and now share some of the coolest facts we learned with you.

1. Mozart was officially a knight (of the Golden Spur)

Leopold, Wolfgang’s dad, was a very modern guy. He loved his wife and often asked her for advice. In addition, he was a marketing genius and had progressive ideas. That said, he couldn’t quite escape his inner conservatism completely: He absolutely wanted for both of his kids to be raised to the nobility. And indeed, the Pope dubbed Wolfgang a “Knight of the Golden Spur”. However, instead of finding a baroness befitting his “station”, the young Mozart married for love and his noble status was merely filed away as a fun-fact.

2. A puzzling question about Mozart’s appearance: What color were his eyes really?

If you take a closer look, you will note a few puzzling aspects of Mozart’s appearance. On the one hand, we have how he is depicted on the Mozartkugel. Here, there’s something definitely going on with his nose; inadvertently or not, they have given Mozart a bit of a “nose job”, making him look prettier and younger. On the other, we have his portraits. In fact, paintings of this musical genius are hanging on all of the walls at his birthplace, and somehow, there is no consistency to the eye color. The fact is, in the 18th century artists liked to paint people with blue eyes, which was deemed more beautiful back then. But in reality, Mozart had dark brown eyes. And sadly, the bottom line is: Mozart would never have been described as a handsome man.

3. Mozart lived to the age of 35 – and he spent 10 of those years on the road

 “Travel shapes you.” – That’s something that Leopold Mozart said for good reason. Even as a small child, Mozart was a well-traveled European, making it all the way to London. Bear in mind, the main form of transportation in those days was a horse-drawn carriage – uncomfortable and slow. Very slow. In fact, a journey to Vienna might well take the better part of a week. All in all, Mozart took 17 major trips, costing him 3720 days of his life. That equates to 10 years, 2 months and 2 days.

4. Leopold Mozart’s music book is now in its 1800th edition

Leopold wasn’t just their father, he was also the teacher of little Wolfgang and his sister. And because, as far as we can tell, that worked out pretty well, the music book he wrote still exists and is now in its one thousand and second edition. This small yellow book entitled Notenbuch für Wolfgang is easy to order. But the fact is, Leopold had a knack for igniting his children’s passion for music, rather than just putting notes on the music stand in front of them. In that way, he managed to whet both of their appetites for music. And the rest, as they say, is history.

5. Mozart wrote a poem to his pet

How appropriate – that a family like the Mozarts didn’t keep hamsters or goldfish in their apartment on Makartplatz, but rather songbirds. In addition, they had a dog, a fox terrier by the name of Pimperl. The dog was adored by the whole family and probably had the run of the household. Later in life, when Mozart lived in Vienna, he also had several birds, including a starling. He even dedicated a poem to the bird upon its passing: his “Poem to a dead starling” (1787).

You will come across even more fun, surprising and exciting tales about Mozart at both museums - the Mozart's Birthplace and the Mozart Residence in Salzburg. And the most affordable way to explore them is to buy a combo ticket. Which is even included free with the Salzburg Card! If you would like to conduct your own personal research before leaving home, we would recommend “Next to Mozart: Answers to the 111 Most Common Questions” (published by the International Mozarteum Foundation).