What do Mozart’s Italian operas and the film ‘The Sound of Music’ have in common? A little known Count.

· Aug. 24, 2022, 8:49 am
Pianist Katie Mahan looking out over the lake at the Leopoldskron Palace in Salzburg.Pianist Katie Mahan looking out over the lake at the Leopoldskron Palace in Salzburg.
Pianist Katie Mahan looking out over the lake at the Leopoldskron Palace in Salzburg.

It's interesting how worlds merge throughout history. Salzburg is best known for the film "The Sound of Music" and Mozart, and even though those two are separated by two centuries, they intersect in several places throughout the city.

You probably remember the extravagant von Trapp home in the movie that overlooked a lake. That house is actually a palace called Schloss Leopoldskron, which was built by the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg in 1736. Colorado pianist Katie Mahan takes us there in this episode of "Mozart Snapshots."

Schloss Leopoldskron in SalzburgSimon1976
Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg

The palace was passed along to the Prince-Archbishop's nephew, Count Laktanz Firmian, in 1744 who continued his uncle's tradition of supporting arts and culture. Paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Titian adorned the walls.

Count Firmian spotted Wolfgang's musical talents at a young age and helped to persuade the new Prince-Archbishop to allow the Mozart family to take several long, paid leaves of absence so young Mozart could further his studies in other musical cities.

By Mozart's early teens, the only genre left to learn was Italian opera. And once again, Count Firmian helped pave the way for Mozart's entry into that world by introducing the Mozart family to his brother, Karl Joseph von Firmian, who lived in Italy. Wolfgang and his father traveled to Milan to stay with Karl Joseph, who introduced them to important musicians and financial backers in the city. Those introductions led to Mozart's first commission in Italy, his opera "Mitridate."

The successful premiere of "Mitridate" led to two more trips to Italy and more commissioned music, confirming the old adage that it's all "who you know" in business.

Pianist Katie Mahan is from Golden, Colorado, but lives in Salzburg now for her concert career. She is following in Mozart's footsteps in his home city every week in this video blog series. Come back each week for a new episode.


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