Book: Mozart, A Cultural Biography by Robert Gutman
Don’t take the Sound of Music tour. Don’t tell an Austrian how much you like the Sound of Music. For heavens’ sake, don’t walk down the Getreidegasse humming “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music.
I had been warned before I went to Salzburg that Austrians do not like American’s beloved musical because it portrays them as too friendly to the Nazis in World War II. What others saw as accommodation, the Austrians saw as survival. But the lovely lady who guided us on a walking tour around the UNESCO World Heritage Site Old City, blamed it on dissing Austrian music. “Edelweiss,” she explained, “is not even an Austrian folk song.” And with that, we went back to exploring the childhood neighborhoods of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg’s favorite son.
While Mozart did indeed spend his childhood in this city (when he wasn’t on tour impressing crowned heads of Europe with his prodigy), he lit out for Vienna, saying a few nasty things about Salzburg when he was old enough. Learn all about the boy genius and his pushy dad in Mozart, A Cultural Biography, perhaps the best of dozens of biographies of Salzburg’s pride and joy, and worthy of a place in the traveler’s library.
So after you land at the Mozart airport, visit the Mozart Cafe, munch on some Mozart candy, attend the Mozart Festival or listen to puppets perform Mozart’s operas, but DO NOT take the Sound of Music Tour. Keep your ear on the Baroque music of Mozart.
Travel guides come wrapped in books of biography, too, you know. What biographies have you read that deepened your understanding of a destination?