European Mozartways

Mozarts Journeys

Mozart reached the age of 35 years, ten months and nine days. However, on 3720 of those days, which is a total of 10 years, two months and eight days, he was on tour. If his early childhood years are deducted, the result is that he spent one third of his life on journeys.

All journeys between 1762 and 1773 were planned and organised by his father, Leopold.

Travelling in the 18th century

During the Enlightenment, most travellers were nobles, diplomats, scientists, artists and craftsmen. However, women also travelled, including Mozart's mother, Anna Maria, and his sister, Nannerl.
The purpose of these study trips and educational journeys was to obtain education and training, to establish contacts with other scholars - in the case of the Mozarts with musicians and musicologists - to learn about other schools of thought and to exchange academic experiences.

Travelling in the 18th century was rather arduous.  Many wagons and carriages, including those of the Mozart family, often became stuck in the mud.  Especially in Italy, highwaymen lurked in preparation for an ambush. Many complaints were heard about the primitive roads, which made journeys painful and strenuous.
The distance between two stages (posts) amounted to ca. 25 km or fifteen miles. The speed of travel depended on the condition of the roads, the terrain, the season and the weather. A carriage covered between 5.5 and 7.5 km per hour, which meant that each stage took from 3.5 to 4.5 hours. The exchange of horses in the post stations often took up to two hours. To travel the route Salzburg-Munich at that time, two days had to be set aside; today, the same distance can comfortably and easily be covered via the Intercity in ca. 90 minutes.

The accommodations were often poor, with humid rooms and insufficient hygiene being quite normal. Leaving without paying the bill for drinks and food, forced donations, theft, drinking sessions and sexual offence belonged to the "bad forms" of that time. The greatest dangers of a journey were considered to be "wine, women and dice".
When the Mozart family set off from Salzburg on June 6, 1763 for their great Western European journey, they were to experience radical changes in Europe which can be summed up in one word: "Enlightenment".

In his life, Mozart travelled through the following ten countries of today: Belgium, Germany, England, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic and visited more than 200 places and cities. They produced lasting impressions for him and shaped his thinking. His destiny as a composer certainly would have been different without his many travels.

Mozarts most important travels through Europe

W.A. Mozart loved to travel extensively. The impact on Mozartís development and musical oeuvre is uncontested.

His most important journeys include the "extensive Western Europe trip" (1763 - 1766), his three trips to Italy and his trip to Paris, stopping in Munich, Augsburg and Mannheim, where he met the Weber family of musicians. The Mozart family travelled to Vienna three times. Mozart did not return to Salzburg after the fourth trip.


The trip across Europe


When the Mozart family left Salzburg on June 6, 1763 for a journey across Europe that was to take three and one-half years, Europe was experiencing a time of upheaval. Father Leopold took advantage of a period without war to risk introducing his children to the European courts. The journey took the family to Munich, Augsburg and on to Ulm, Mannheim and Frankfurt, where the fourteen-year-old Goethe heard the child prodigies. They continued through Cologne, Aachen, and Brussels and on to Paris, where the family settled down for five months. Mozart published his first works in Paris, six weeks later he was invited to appear at the court of King Ludwig XV. The child prodigies also performed for the King's mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour. Their success in Versailles was their breakthrough in France.


In April 1764 their journey continued to England. Mozart composed his first symphonies and made the acquaintance of Johann Christian Bach. The family returned to Holland, Belgium and France and back to Paris for another two months. They travelled through Switzerland, on to Munich and back to Salzburg, where they arrived on November 29, 1766.


The three trips to Italy


Mozart and his father stepped on Italian soil three times. Their first trip to Italy (December 1769 - March 1771) was both pleasant and honourable. It inspired Mozart with new impressions and ideas, adding more experience and diversity to his art. Mozart was introduced in the Italian art scene, met the Italian upper class, the noblesse, the higher nobility and church dignitaries and even the Pope. He met an old friend from London, the castrate Manzuoli, and met another wunderkind his own age in Florence: Thomas Linley. The two boys developed a close friendship. Pope Clement XIV conferred on W. A. Mozart the Order of the Golden Spur, making the composer "Sir Wolfgang, Signore Cavaliere Mozart". In Bologna Mozart studied counterpoint with the Franciscan padre Martini. He conducted his opera Mitridate, Re di Ponto at the opera in Milan.


Father and son set off again for Milan in August 1771. Mozart wrote the festive opera "Ascanio di Alba" as a wedding gift for the Archduke Ferdinand to the Princess Beatrice of Modena¸ which was received with thunderous approval.


The Mozarts returned to Italy from October 1772 to March 1773. Mozart had been commissioned by Milan to write another opera. The premiere of "Lucio Silla" was catastrophic, probably due to the three-hour wait for the Emperor's arrival. As a consequence, Mozart failed to receive any further commissions from Italy.


Trip to Paris


(1777 - 1779) W. A. Mozart travelled to Paris alone with his mother since the court had not given his father permission to leave Salzburg. The trip's primary goal was to secure employment at one of the European courts. This wish was not fulfilled. Neither in Munich nor in Mannheim, although Mozart had a great deal of fun in Augsburg, where he met his cousin, Maria Anna Thekla, and became very good friends with her. Apart from his lack of money, Mozart had a wonderful time in Mannheim: he enjoyed the inspiring music played by the Mannheim Orchestra which was currently at its peak. The Archduke's refusal came six weeks later. They were delayed in continuing on to Paris since Mozart preferred to travel with the Webers, leaving his mother behind. He fell in love with Aloysia Weber at this time. The family was planning a journey to Italy and Mozart would have loved to join them. But his strict father in Salzburg was raging. He finally left for Paris with his mother at the end of March as a sacrifice to his father. His sojourn in Paris was unsuccessful. His mother became seriously ill during their stay and died. Mozart left Paris in September, returning to Salzburg via Mannheim and Munich.


Salzburg 1783


Mozart travelled to Salzburg with his wife, Constanze, to show her his native town.


Prague 1787


Mozart travelled to Prague twice this year, first to a performance of his opera "The Wedding of Figaro", second to work on "Don Giovanni", premiering in Prague.


Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin 1789


Mozart travelled to Berlin in April without Constanze, having been invited by Prince Karl Lichnowsky. This journey did not result in a job or commission to write an opera.


Frankfurt 1790


Mozart's last journey was to attend the coronation festivities of the new Emperor, Leopold II as King of Bohemia. Mozart had had waited for an invitation in vain and drove off on his own initiative.


Prague 1791

Trip to the coronation of Leopold II as the King of Bohemia and to La Clemenza di Tito.