Mozart hometown welcomes fans for bash
SALZBURG, Austria (AP) – Hot rock and cool jazz mixed with the classics in Salzburg on Friday, as Mozart fans spilled from museums and concert halls into a floodlit main square in an exuberant 250th birthday bash echoed by thousands of other commemorations worldwide.
As the city of his birth, Salzburg claimed first rights in the international celebrations, showcasing him in a dozen events that displayed not only his musical mastery but his life, loves and pastimes.
Salzburg church bells pealed at 8 p.m., the hour of his birth. Posters sprinkling the city proclaimed Happy Birthday Mozart, while the daily Salzburger Nachrichten displayed a full-page portrait of a serious-looking “Wunderkind” sitting at the harpsichord, with the headline: Salzburg Celebrates Its Great Son.
But it was mostly Mozart just about everywhere else as well, as people celebrated his musical gift to the world with uncounted concerts, opera performances, marathon classical broadcasts and other events.
In Vancouver, CBC Radio One’s studios invited the public to a 12-hour celebration called Mozart Noon and Night, culminating in a birthday cake to be presented at 10 p.m. At Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, along with actor Colm Feore and several soloists, planned a literary and musical journey through Mozart’s life as portrayed in his letters and the vocal music they inspired. Edmonton declared Friday to be Mozart Day.
The Google internet search machine rose to the occasion with programmers bedecking an “o” with a Mozartian wig and replacing a “g” with the treble clef.
Giants of classical music sang the praises to the creator of more than 600 works, including some of the most beautiful music ever written; the lover of scatological jokes; the impertinent youth who talked back to Austrian Emperor Joseph II after he criticized his Abduction From the Seraglio.
“He comes from another star,” declared conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt as he grappled to define Mozart in his entirety.
Others put it more simply.
“I have CDs of him playing all day,” said medical company sales director Peggy Taylor of Richmond, Va., as she prepared to go Mozart hopping from Salzburg to Vienna. “He brings me back into balance.”
And for Salzburg cabbie Andrea Gautsch, “Mozart came with mother’s milk.”
While paying homage to Mozart, Austrian President Heintz Fischer evoked another Jan. 27 – the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp from the Nazis 61 years go.
“Austria not only gave birth to Mozart but to (Adolf) Eichmann,” he said, alluding to a key henchman of Adolf Hitler – himself an Austrian.
In Sweden, state radio set up an Internet radio station broadcasting Mozart music for 24 hours playing “Wolfie’s hits & misses.” Public television also honoured Mozart with a 12-hour special.
Orchestra halls and opera houses performed his works in Moscow, Washington, Prague, London, Paris, Tokyo, Caracas, Quito, Havana, Mexico City, Taipei, Budapest, Beijing and scores of other cities worldwide.
America’s oldest orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, got a jump on the birthday by playing an all-Mozart program on Thursday night. The program, being repeated Friday and Saturday, included the orchestra’s first-ever performance of the uplifting Coronation Mass, which Mozart wrote in 1779. The New Jersey Symphony was nearing the conclusion of a three-week Mozart festival that included a community play-in of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik on Saturday afternoon at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.
Many classical radio outlets worldwide were reprogramming for the day to play only Mozart. Hundreds of marionettes took to the stage in excerpts of his operas in the German city of Augsburg, where his father was born.
Croatia’s central post office stamped letters with special Mozart images. In Helsinki, Finnish music buffs were treated to 1,650 Mozart pastries before a special concert.
The square in front of the Austrian Embassy in the Slovene capital, Ljubljana, was declared “Mozart Square” for the day. In Brussels, Manneken Pis, the storied statue of the tinkling boy, was bedecked in a Mozart costume.
In Austria, the celebrations added special spice to the rivalry between Salzburg – where Mozart was born on Jan. 27, 1756 – and Vienna, where he died 35 years later.
Vienna was staging a new production of his Idomeneo in one of the city’s three opera houses and reviving The Magic Flute in another. The Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral was the venue for a performance of his Coronation Mass, and chamber music ensembles spread across town to perform some of his better known works.
Vienna Mayor Michael Hauepl took note of both cities’ ties to the Austrian master as he reopened the baroque downtown house where Mozart wrote The Marriage of Figaro, declaring: “Mozart was incontestably a Salzburger, but today he also becomes a Viennese.”
Back in Salzburg, visitors to the ornate Neue Residenz museum eyed Mozart’s clothes brush and tobacco tins as they scurried through the Viva Mozart exhibit. Others at the interactive presentation joined in a minuet, under the watchful eyes of a dancemaster, dressed in 18th-century garb.
In an evening climax, thousands of bundled-up revellers packed the floodlit Kapitel Square. Flanked by baroque church spires, they sipped mulled wine and champagne and grooved to the sound of Mozart classics, Austrian rock and jazz against the backdrop of the city’s majestic hilltop fortress.
Mozart hometown welcomes fans for bash