Mozart on the Move: Travels to Munich and Vienna

About Mozart: the First Steps of the Child Prodigy into the Big, Wide World

Young Mozart together with his father and the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg Schrattenbach among the audience of the wedding concert for Crown Prince Joseph and Isabella of Parma in Vienna's Imperial Palace on 6 October 1760 (detail)

Oil painting by Martin van Meytens (1695–1770) 1760-65 (Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna) Source: Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library
The six-year-old Mozart in a gala dress given to him in 1762 at the Imperial Court in Vienna.

The six-year-old Mozart in a gala dress given to him in 1762 at the Imperial Court in Vienna.

Oil painting possibly by Pietro Antonio Lorenzoni (1721–1782) 1763 (International Mozarteum Foundation, Salzburg) Source: Wikimedia

Leopold Mozart quickly realised that Salzburg was too provincial for his children. His goal was the Imperial Austrian Court in Vienna. To prepare them for travelling, he planned a journey to Munich, which at that time was three days' travel away from Salzburg.

In the time of Amadeus Mozart, travelling was hard work. Non-suspended carriages trundled over unpaved roads. Without air conditioning, winters were bitingly cold, summers swelteringly hot and very dusty. But what could one do? For a concert at the court of the Bavarian elector Max III. Josef, Nannerl and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were reimbursed with one ducat. An interesting fact about Mozart: even this musical genius had a humble beginning…

“Vienna, ready or not, here we come!”

Autumn 1762 was the moment of truth. The Mozart children were ready to meet the imperial couple. The journey took three weeks and was torture for young Nannerl and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Leopold Mozart put up with the arduous journey – then as now, some parents wish to see their children succeed at any cost.

The journey bore great risks - an invitation to the Imperial Court in Vienna was far from guaranteed. The costs accumulated. Every day on the road, food, board, everything cost money. One can hardly imagine how nervous Leopold Mozart must have felt. However, the news of the two prodigal children from Salzburg spread like wildfire and the interest of the Viennese high society was piqued.

October 13, 1762: Wolfgang (“Wolferl”) Enchants the Imperial Family

Finally the Mozart family received the much coveted invitation: full of expectation, Emperor Franz I. Stephan, Empress Maria-Theresia and their children waited in the Mirror Saloon of Schoenbrunn Palace. The confident six-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart enthralled them all with his playing. Court composer Christoph Wagenseil correctly remarked: “You are a real musician!” The Mozarts returned to Salzburg richly remunerated. Father Leopold was fully content. Further journeys would follow…