Mozart and the Czech Republic - A Tale of Inspiration

Mozart and the Czech Republic - A Tale of Inspiration

One of the world’s most prominent music composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was born 260 years ago. Find out more about the role this country played in his work.

In connection with this genial composer Czechs are fond of citing one of his quotations: “My Praguers understand me!” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is supposed to have spoken words to this effect after the successful premiere of his opera Don Giovanni conducted in Prague in 1787. Mozart took a great liking to Prague, which could have been partially due to the Praguers exhibiting much greater appreciation for his music than for example the Viennese. Afterwards, the composer would return to Prague several times. However, at the beginning of his career Mozart‘s star shone brightly in Olomouc and his trail also leads to Carlsbad.

Moravia Was the First

Although Prague always played “first fiddle” in Mozart’s life, right at the start of his stellar career he visited Brno and Olomouc. He arrived in Moravia from Vienna, which was at that time overrun by a smallpox epidemic. Originally, he was to perform in Brno, but due to the fear of the outbreak of the disease Mozart and his family had to travel further - to Olomouc. He stayed there for a little while and composed one of his symphonies. After some time he returned to Brno to give a concert in the Reduta Theatre. By the way, this playhouse is still in operation, being used by the Brno National Theatre and boasting the title of the oldest theatre building in Central Europe. But back to Mozart! We have not mentioned that Mozart’s Brno concert took place in 1767, when the composer was a mere 11 years of age.

Success in Prague

Mozart’s work arrived in Prague before the actual composer. The immense success of The Marriage of Figaro came as quite a shock even to Mozart himself. Apparently, he confided in his letter to a friend that The Marriage of Figaro was a hot topic of conversation in Prague and amazingly people even sang it in the streets.

Not surprisingly, Mozart finished his following opera, Don Giovanni, in Prague and conducted its premiere here, in the Estates Theatre. Mozart’s birthday will be marked with a gala concert featuring   the internationally renowned opera singer Simona Houda Šaturová and the orchestra of the National Theatre  that will be led by the German conductor Ralf Beck. The concert will take place on January 27, 2016, while some other events on a larger scale are planned for the summer. To learn more about these click here, while we will go back to Mozart and his Prague visits.

On his trips here he used to stay with his friends Mr. and Mrs. Dušek in the Bertramka Villa. During one of his strolls with the singer Josefína Dušková they headed for the Strahov Monastery, where Mozart is believed to have tried their famous organ. Supposedly, one of the witnesses to this event described it as an experience when one could turn to stone in sheer amazement at the brilliance of Mozart.

The musical genius paid his last visit to Prague in 1791, several months before his death. Before his demise he managed to compose and rehearse an opera for the occasion of the Coronation of King Leopold II. However, the Empress was apparently not very complimentary about the new piece. When aged 35 Mozart was bidding his last farewell to Prague, it is said that his fatal illness could already be seen in his eyes. After his death on December 5, 1791 Mozart’s Prague friends organised a memorial service in the Church of St. Nicholas. If you know this church situated in Lesser Town,  you will be most likely amazed that about four thousand people managed to squeeze in to pay their last respects to the great composer.

Grave in Carlsbad

The talent of Wolfgang Amadeus was inherited by his sixth child, his son Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart. Unfortunately, Franz Xaver never had the chance to get to know his father because he was born just a few months before his death. However, the genes of a genius could not be suppressed and he started composing as a child. Although he gained great recognition as a musician, he frequently compared himself with his father and alas never matched his fame and success. Similarly, as his father, Franz Xaver visited the Czech land. Twice he stayed in the spa town of  Carlsbad. On the second occasion he acted on the recommendation of his physicians, but regrettably the fatal disease which ended his life could not be averted. Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart died in Carlsbad and was buried there, too. His gravestone bears the inscription of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, because he was supposedly called that by his mother after his father had passed away.