The Mayrische Musikalienhandlung in Salzburg Announces Autumn Closure

Earlier this week, the Mayrische Musikalienhandlung , a Salzburg institution and one of the oldest music shops in the world, sadly announced...

Earlier this week, the Mayrische Musikalienhandlung, a Salzburg institution and one of the oldest music shops in the world, sadly announced its closure. I initially discovered the news via Bärenreiter on social media in which they cited Constanze Mozart's diary entry: "... I also wanted one of the first prints of the biography (Mozart biography by Nissen) to be sent to me through the Mayrische Buchhandlung as soon as possible," Mozart's widow wrote on September 27, 1828.

Having sold books, scores, sheet music and more since 1592, this is, needless to say, a devastating loss for the city, for the industry and for music history and heritage. The company's announcement, which concluded with a congratulatory remark for the centenary of the Salzburger Festspiele (Salzburg Festival), stated the following:

"It is with great regret that the Mayrische Musikalienhandlung in Salzburg announces that the operation will be closed at 30.11.2020 (November 30th). The sale of the sheet music editions starts from 01.10.2020 (October 1st). The reasons behind the closure lie, on the one hand, in the ever increasing pressure of competition from the internet. On the other hand, there is an increased volume of copies in the teaching sector, which has made the sales of sheet music more and more smaller. Unfortunately, restructuring measures, as well as the introduction of their own web shop, have not stopped this development either. The decline in sales due to COVID-19 since mid-March 2020 has increased economic pressure once again. This means that the continuation of the music shop is no longer economically possible. The owner, Universal Edition AG, Vienna, has already financially supported the musical business in recent years. Ultimately, however, the company has to face the economic reality and therefore closes this branch. The music shop Musik Müller, which belongs to the company, continues in Vienna. The music shop Mayrische thanks its long-standing customers and its long-standing employees for their long-standing cooperation and loyalty."

ORF Salzburg's August 25th headline is one of heartbreak: "Music bookstore closes after 430 years." The article emphasizes the shock of local musicians as they lament the loss of Mayrische's specialist knowledge curated over centuries that cannot be found anywhere else. On August 27th, Der Standard ventured further into the details of its closure with an article disclosing reasons for the shop's economic predicament, including its vulnerability as an unsubsidized cultural enterprise. 

I decided to place an order online as a respectful adieu and act of support for this historical landmark. But unfortunately the store isn't currently shipping to the U.S. due to the pandemic. They're only shipping within Europe. So, if you meet this geographical requirement, I invite you to shop in my stead! Their offerings are endless, so allow ample time for browsing. One of the items I did have in my virtual cart was the Mozart KlangArt 2021 Calendar. I wanted to purchase it for my home office space because, well, 2021 can't arrive soon enough. And at this point, I think we all need a reminder that 2020 will, in all of its madness, eventually end. The 2021 calendar marks the 230th anniversary year of Mozart's untimely departure in 1791 and includes a CD with sacred works performed by some of the most gifted interpreters of his music (listen to samples).

My first visit to Salzburg was a solo adventure, and since I tend to explore and navigate unfamiliar places using locations as visual markers, the Mayrische Musikalienhandlung was indeed a fixture of remembrance with its historical renown and signature red flag with customers browsing bins on the ancient street. When I returned two years later, it was a welcome sight. I'm deeply saddened, both personally and professionally, that its presence and working expertise will soon be lost to us. 

The fact that such an establishment cannot survive in one of the few music metropolises in Europe is a frightening reality as we look to the future. Some will resurface successfully from the pandemic and others will not. And we must take note. When our oldest and most treasured exponents begin to falter, this marks the beginning of a collapse in our ecosystem. 

Yes, I'm pensive these days. A feeling of powerlessness has become a regular sensation as my contracts have been canceled and guardianship efforts for music history and heritage have all but ceased. Preservation initiatives, concerts, tourism, museum operations, events, etc. Not one aspect of our sector has gone unscathed. And while other industries begin to recover, our march towards recovery is arduously complicated in the face of financial dependence on the fickle generosity of donors and non-profit organizations whose funding availability is never certain, nor guaranteed. 

How can we continue to operate in such a fragile and compromised manner? A "return to normal" would be devastating when "normal" was something we could never afford in the first place. The pandemic has revealed a great deal about what's wrong with society and how its wealth is immorally and unethically distributed, including the negligence of refusing to properly subsidize the arts. 

With an abundance of new research demonstrating public and private benefits from the driving economic force of a billion-dollar arts industry, there's no excuse for governments to refuse support any longer. My hope is that out of this darkness promising solutions will emerge that leave us in a better place than we were before. In the words of my colleague David Bahlman: "I think we need to speak about finance, remuneration and value loud and often as primary issues in order to retain the integrity of heritage projects and the dignity of those who make them happen."


Mozart in Italia Project Celebrates 250th Anniversary of Mozart's Journey

UPDATE // July 19, 2020  Today, I'm announcing the cancellation of Mozart in Italia 250 due to COVID-19. The pandemic is a fo...

UPDATE // July 19, 2020 

Today, I'm announcing the cancellation of Mozart in Italia 250 due to COVID-19. The pandemic is a formidable enemy. Current circumstances have reduced many of us to prioritize daily survival (financial, medical, etc.) over everything else in our lives and this new reality has impacted the trajectory of this project in terms of its anticipated scope and participation. 

Please note that the cancellation of this project does not effect the ongoing programming of the Associazione Mozart Italia and European Mozart Ways which is expected to continue. I hope that, one day soon, we'll be able to celebrate Mozart together again in a manner we all deserve. Thank you for your support and understanding during this difficult time. 



I'm honored to announce a new initiative, Mozart in Italia 250, in partnership with Associazione Mozart Italia (AMI) and European Mozart Ways (EMW). Since 1770 is such a significant year in the Mozart biography as it pertains to his travels to Italy, I wanted to create a way to bring recognition to this history through a shared experience while inspiring morale amidst the pandemic. Mozart in Italia 250 celebrates this anniversary and more broadly recognizes the composer's relationship with Italy that began 250 years ago and continues today.

The call of fandom is an approach I've used successfully in past projects, including those exhibited at the Mozarthaus Vienna. And this time, I'm asking Italian fans to share a celebratory photo or video from their home, garden, balcony, or any other location convenient for social distancing. And whether or not they live in a particular location Mozart visited in 1770, or during his three tours (1769-1773), this collective effort to capture the here and now will result in a "living map" or "living history" that's symbolic of his journey.

Last month, I presented the idea to my friend Greta Di Raimondo, Interim President of AMI Parma. She embraced the project with enthusiasm and immediately contacted AMI Founder Arnaldo Volani, whose support I also received that same day. Following their approval, I contacted my Salzburg colleague Gerhard Spitz, EMW Secretary General, who was keen to promote it through his organization's network representing all of the countries Mozart ever traversed.

While Mozart in Italia 250 focuses on Mozart and Italy, this project is intended for everyone because it is our shared heritage. Now through the August 1st deadline (and beyond!), we can join our Italian friends by following Mozart's 1770 travels through an interactive map, travel letters and other resources on European Mozart Ways. We can listen to the music Mozart composed during this time period. We can utilize and stay attuned to the #MozartInItalia250 hashtag across social media. And we can party like it's carnival season in Venice on the Facebook event page where we can share, interact and celebrate the journey together!

Greta studies at the Università Iuav di Venezia and is a gifted filmmaker, so I asked if she'd be willing to weave a tapestry of the project's media submissions into a video. She has committed to the task, so we have much to look forward to in the culmination of this material through her work! To get an idea of Greta's passion and ability, watch her documentary from Mozartwoche 2017 (Mozart Week 2017) in collaboration with AMI and the Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg.

This video will be a compliment to the other objectives previously mentioned. Mozart in Italia 250 aspires to reimagine Mozart's travels through crowdsourced media from Italian fans, build recognition for this history and heritage and elevate esprit de corps among audiences internationally. And all of this will be achieved through our ongoing web-based campaign powered by activity on the event page and respective partner pages (see the Facebook pages for AMI and EMW).

My December article, The Mozart Verona Portrait and the Question of Cultural Heritageabout the January auctioning of the 1770 Mozart portrait, in many ways prefaces this newly realized effort, but it was the pandemic's brutal toll on Italy that ultimately influenced the creation of Mozart in Italia 250 and its people-centric approach to acknowledging the anniversary and its milestone events, including:

January 1770 - The 13-year old Mozart is painted from life in what is now known as the Verona portrait, one of few authenticated portraits of the composer. 
July 1770 - Mozart is awarded the Order of the Golden Spur by Pope Clement XIV for transcribing Allegri's Miserere from memory upon hearing its performance in the Sistine Chapel in April.
October 1770 - After studying with Padre Martini, Mozart takes the entrance exam and is admitted into the prestigious Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna.
December 1770 -  The premiere of Mitridate, re di Ponto (Mithridates, King of Pontus) represents Mozart's debut in Milan and initiation into the world of Italian opera. It is a critical and popular success with 22 performances, the first three conducted by Mozart at the harpsichord. He receives two additional commissions.
Mozart in Italia 250 is a campaign that, during an extraordinary moment in our own history, pauses to celebrate that of another: the enduring artist who continues to bring us together in harmony, all around the world.


The Met Opera's Stream of Cosi fan tutte on Easter Honors New York's Cultural Icons

A scene from The Met Opera's 2018 production of  Cosi fan tutte . Happy Easter! As we spend the holiday through social distanci...

A scene from The Met Opera's 2018 production of Cosi fan tutte.

Happy Easter! As we spend the holiday through social distancing due to the pandemic, I hope all of us manage to find comfort and encouragement from many sources, including Mozart's music. Through the generosity of orchestras, opera companies and individual artists around the world, we are so incredibly fortunate to find ourselves enveloped in an abundance of content as we shelter in place. Although our industry is dealing with unparalleled economic challenge, and as professionals our future is uncertain, our communal call to action remains steadfast.

One benevolent gesture that I'd like to bring to your attention for its contextual, historical and cultural significance, is tonight's free stream of Cosi fan tutte by The Metropolitan Opera. The company began its schedule of evening streams featuring archival content on March 16th and now in its fourth week, will present a Mozart opera for the first time. But it's not just any opera, or any production.

Cosi fan tutte is the third and final collaboration between Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte who immigrated to the United States in 1805 and lived the majority of his last 33 years in New York City. To learn more, read my recent article, "Building Recognition for Lorenzo Da Ponte's American Legacy."

The Met's 2018 production taking center stage tonight is set in 1950s Coney Island, a traditional summertime destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike. The opera's playful boardwalk amusement park atmosphere transports us to the carefree days of a summertime past. It premiered in March 2018 and two months later in May, the iconic Coney Island Boardwalk was designated as a scenic landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). Read more.

Lincoln Center Plaza: Visiting The Met on a beautiful, sunny day!

With New York City being the current epicenter of the pandemic, tonight's stream is timely and emotional. While the stage is dark and the city deals with an unprecedented moment in history, Cosi fan tutte brings us together in honor of its cultural icons: The Met, Coney Island and Lorenzo Da Ponte. I love this city and its resilient character. My heart goes out to everyone there, including my favorite New Yorker who took the above photo of me in Lincoln Center Plaza: author Stephanie Cowell!

I've seen many Mozart operas at The Met and there's no substitute for being there in person, but the next best thing is The Met: Live in HD experience whose content we're now gifted to enjoy for free at home. I hope you'll join me tonight at 7:30pm EDT to watch Cosi fan tutte. The opera will be available until 6:30pm EDT tomorrow. Also, be sure to check out the panel discussion that was recorded in advance yesterday!

To date, the national Live in HD outreach campaign I created in partnership with Fathom Events has offered over 100 free tickets to fans in 14 states to experience five Mozart operas at their local cinemas through this series. The next Mozart opera planned for HD transmission is a new production of Don Giovanni (his second collaboration with Da Ponte) in March 2021.

I'd like to close with the final text of Cosi fan tutte, translated by the late J.D. McClatchy, an American poet, librettist and literary critic. His book, Seven Mozart Operas: A Verse Translation, was dedicated to Peter Gelb, The Met's General Manager. I hope we find some morale and wisdom here. I'm wishing you every happiness on this Easter Sunday!

Happy is the man who looks
On the bright side of everything,
And in all circumstances and trials
Lets himself be guided by reason.

What only makes the others weep
Will be for him a source of joy,
And amid the storms of this world
He will find his peace in every season.


The Chronicles Launches on Patreon

It's Patreon launch day! Since my authorship began with The Chronicles of a Modern-Day Mozartian , I've never monetized it thro...

It's Patreon launch day! Since my authorship began with The Chronicles of a Modern-Day Mozartian, I've never monetized it through subscription fees, paywalls, ads or affiliate marketing. Since 2006, readers have had access to what I've created for public consumption at no cost, but now I'm asking that my readership arrive at this content in a financially supporting role through Patreon, a membership platform that empowers creators to earn recurring, sustainable income.

For only $5/month, you can become an active subscriber and join a private community where you'll enjoy exclusive content like early access updates and have the opportunity to engage in discussions with me about the future of The Chronicles. Learn more about membership and how your support will advance my work for our mutual passion!

For those of you who are new to The Chronicles, welcome! I invite you to look through my site to learn more about my career highlights and recent achievements. You'll find that it's more than a blog. It's a platform that represents my fieldwork, fan projects and other preservation initiatives for Mozart. The Chronicles is a catalyst for action. Over the years, I've fondly referred to the community I've built as "The WolfGANG," which is the name of my Patreon membership.

My emphasis on community in addressing the needs of music heritage preservation on a holistic level is the essence of my concept for Musicopolis. Preservation success depends on our relationships with each other and our environments. Music, memories, artifacts, architecture. Music fans, musicians, professionals, educators, civic leaders. We are interconnected, comprising a dynamic and diverse city with a single mission: to see our music history and heritage thrive, inspire and sustain.

Professionals and general audiences alike play a vital role as guardians and advocates, but we tend to operate independently in a vacuum, not through a more concerted effort for greater effect. We're storytellers who provide context, socio-cultural perspective and human interest. We're agents of this living and ever-evolving history of which we are a part. Our collective voice is one of immense power and beauty, giving rise to the meaning and potential of community.

My new membership initiative with Patreon is Musicopolis in practice. It is a public funding model (crowdfunding/sourcing/networking) that brings stakeholders from all sectors together in equal discourse while creating funds to further a shared vision.

In a world of saturated entertainment landscapes, our musical past is endangered, and business as usual isn't the solution. I invite you to join me in this exciting step towards realizing a new approach to the preservation of our music history and heritage!