Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ever been to Mozart World?

It is hard to believe how little time I have had in the last while. I thought that the end of the university year would lead to some respite but have been very wrong. Just a few days ago I returned from one trip and am about to leave on another a few days from now.

I spent a few days in Salzburg. The place has turned Mozart into a local industry, with Mozartkugeln, Mozartalar and other tacky Mozart kitsch available on almost every corner. Walking around the place it was hard to believe at times that real people live there. At least I didn’t see any Mozart impersonators there, unlike Copenhagen which seems to be full of guys dressed up as Andersen. What I found quite fascinating was that all the places I am aware of that are making a living from their long dead famous sons were detested by those men and, more often than not, rejected them. Thus, Mozart was thrown out of Salzburg, which was a theocratic state. Indeed, it still feels that way - the place where I stayed had been a monastery and had the oppressive atmosphere of somewhere where you are being watched and where you will only cope by very much fitting in with everyone else. The third city with a famous son who had to leave that I have been to recently is Granada, its advantage being that it has the Alhambra, which tops pretty much everything else as an attraction – especially a brilliant, but not very well known outside of Hispanic countries, writer. In fact, in terms of rejecting their famous sons, Granada was perhaps the most extreme; not only did Lorca detest the place but he ended up being killed not far from it during the Spanish civil war. Now, there is actually relatively little in Granada to tell you that he lived there. There is a park and an out of the way museum as well as a fair number of postcards with pictures of him. Not like the omniscient image of Mozart in Salzburg.

There is a peaceful cemetery in the centre of town where the Mozart family has their grave. People come there to look at the gravestone. I do not think that Mozart himself is buried there but just some members of his family. Even if he is, though, stopping there makes as much sense as buying the chocolates. That’s not where Mozart is really present in any meaningful way. And the same is true of Copenhagen and all the other places. Still, like Granada, Salzburg is worth seeing in its own right – it is a beautiful town with many interesting nooks and crannies; as well as being a good example of the oppressiveness and hypocrisy of theocratic states.


At 23/7/06 11:45 pm, Blogger Daniel Bowen said...

Ah, MozartWorld... well I suppose they have to take full advantage of whatever local history they've got. Would the majority of tourists expect anything else?


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