Mozart and ‘The Sound of Music’: Inside Salzburg’s Mirabell Palace

Fans of the movie "The Sound of Music" know the gardens of Salzburg's Schloss Mirabell (Mirabell Palace) well. Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp children sing and dance their way around a fountain and a canopy of greenery in the famous song "Do-Re-Mi." Andrews sings to the stratosphere as they hop up the garden steps in the song's finale.

The palace was 350 years old by the time the iconic movie was filmed there. Located across the river from the official residence of the Archbishop, Mirabell Palace was the summer home for the Archbishops. We don't know if Mozart ever played in the famous Pegasus fountain, but we do know he was no stranger to the palace, having performed there on numerous occasions.

Inside the palace is the famous Marble Hall, which is the number one wedding venue in Salzburg today. But in Mozart's time, it was a place for concerts. For several years, Mozart wrote the music for the University of Salzburg's commencement ceremony, which was premiered in the Marble Hall. And we know of at least one instance when Mozart and his sister, Nannerl, performed on two pianos in the hall.

The hall is cavernous, and pianist Katie Mahan says resolution time (the time it takes for music to dissipate) is eight seconds, making it a fun challenge to perform there. In this episode of Mozart Snapshots, Katie tells the interesting historical background of the palace and performs in Marble Hall — not any of the songs from "The Sound of Music," but a sonata by Mozart.

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