My ideal summer destination as a Mozartian? The Salzkammergut , of course! It's a resort area of lakes and mountains spanning from M...

The Salzkammergut: A Mozartian's Ideal Summer Destination

My ideal summer destination as a Mozartian? The Salzkammergut, of course! It's a resort area of lakes and mountains spanning from Mozart's hometown of Salzburg eastwards along the Austrian Alpine Foreland and the Northern Limestone Alps to the peaks of the Dachstein Mountains. "Salzkammergut" translates as "Estate of the Salt Chamber" deriving from the Imperial Salt Chamber, the authority charged with operating the precious salt mines of the Habsburg Monarchy.

I hope you enjoy these photos from my first trip which recall so fondly those initial impressions from summers past. I was truly overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounded me, especially within the context of it being my first visit to Austria to experience Mozart's history and heritage. And being from Southeastern Ohio where hills, lakes and forests abound, the envelopment of Austria's Alpine ranges felt like home from the very beginning. I'd describe the experience using the (untranslatable) German concept of comfort, coziness, relaxation and contentment: Gem├╝tlichkeit! I've visited the Salzkammergut twice and look forward to my return!

Among other activities during that first trip, I took a cruise on Lake Wolfgang (Wolfgangsee) via the S.S. Wolfgang Amadeus from St. Wolfgang to St. Gilgen, a picturesque village where Mozart's mother Anna Maria was born on Christmas Day in 1720 and where his sister Maria Anna ("Nannerl") lived with her husband until his death in 1801. Now known as the Mozarthaus St. Gilgen, the former residence has been owned by the Cultural Association Mozartdorf St. Gilgen since 2005 and was listed as an historical monument in 2007. It has a museum, concert hall and event space for weddings and other celebrations. Since 2005, St. Gilgen has been promoted as the "Mozart Village" by the Wolfgangsee Tourist Board.

St. Gilgen rightfully honors the Mozart women who do not receive the recognition they deserve for their own achievements as well as the vital roles they played in Mozart's success, for which they both made tremendous sacrifices. Anna Maria and Nannerl's likenesses are beautifully displayed on the exterior of the Mozarthaus St. Gilgen and since 2008, the Mozarthaus has displayed a permanent exhibit about their family's history, giving special attention to Nannerl and her extraordinary musical gifts.

There's a beautiful garden featuring a bronze fountain sculpture of Anna Maria as a child by sculptor Toni Schneider-Manzell. Although Wolfgang himself never visited St. Gilgen, his likeness (see photo above) was realized by Viennese art nouveau sculptor Karl Wollek in 1926. The fountain sculpture of the child prodigy is located in the town square (Mozartplatz) directly in front of St. Gilgen's town hall (Rathaus).

My photos and narrative are only a glimpse meant to pique your interest! No matter how much material I share with you, nothing can truly capture the experience of being there in person. This is the priceless and irreplaceable value of our historical sites. There's absolutely no substitution. When they're gone, they're gone. They provide a closeness to the past through an elevated sensory experience that's all-consuming and unparalleled. No architectural or technological reproduction can replace them. Synthetics cannot satiate our need for this organic connection to history and its figures.

Although visiting sites may not always be feasible financially or otherwise, you can still experience these special places and support preservation and advocacy efforts from home. How? In this instance, be sure to visit all of the links I've included in this article and watch videos like this that capture the breathtaking splendor of the Salzkammergut. You're not there, but it's the next best thing. You'll be inspired! 

In regards to becoming active in preservation initiatives with organizations, museums and other groups, read my article, "Hats and Ideas: The Mozartian Collective and The Power of Preservation" for ideas, visit my resources page for directories and contact me with any questions. I hope that my readership (aka "The WolfGANG") will take the opportunity this summer to re-energize their commitment and take even the smallest action. It all counts. And it takes all of us working together, near and far, in measures big and small, to ensure our success!