What nationality was Mozart? Austrian? German? Actually, neither.

Colorado pianist Katie Mahan with Father Petrus Eder – a librarian at St. Peter’s Abbey in Salzburg.

What was is like to walk the streets of Salzburg when Mozart was growing up there? In the old part of the city, it’s remarkably similar. Many of the same buildings remain. You can easily visit many of the places Mozart lived or performed. But what has changed is how city residents refer to themselves.

In Mozart’s time, a resident of Salzburg wasn’t considered Austrian. Or German. Salzburg was an independent state of the Catholic church, ruled by the most powerful Archbishop in the German-speaking lands. So Mozart was neither German nor Austrian. He was Salzburgian. Salzburg did not become part of the Austrian empire until 1805, more than a decade after Mozart died.

Salzburg’s musical history is rich. It was a major European musical center in Europe for hundreds of years, attracting musicians from all over. Many of Mozart’s manuscripts ended up in Berlin after his death. However, most were moved to Poland for safety during World War II, where they remain today. Only a dozen of his manuscripts reside in Salzburg today, and those are under the watchful eye of Benedictine monks at the St. Peter's monastery.

In this episode of Mozart Snapshots, pianist Katie Mahan takes us to Europe’s oldest library inside St. Peter’s Abbey in Salzburg. The library is off-limits to the general public, but Katie not only shows us the library, but she chats with the priest responsible for caring for the precious Mozart manuscripts.

Katie Mahan was born and raised on Colorado but now lives in Salzburg for her concert career. She has been following in Mozart’s footsteps in her video blog series, Mozart Snapshots.

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