Venice and Vienna – two focal points of European culture. Venice and Vienna – two towns that play a major role in the life of the Italian composer Antonio Salieri, the famous counterpart of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Vienna. Who would write the better operas? The established master from Venice or the ambitious young man from Salzburg? Who would win and keep the favour of the Emperor? Whose name will last and whose name will be forgotten? One is tempted to say that Mozart gained the upper hand, but that would not be true. Salieri has precisely not been forgotten, because Mozart, his most fierce competitor, became so popular.
It has been raining last night. The ground was wet, the air damp when I got up today at 6 o’clock. I looked out at the kitchen window and smiled: Beethoven. Mist rolled over the vineyards, a few minutes until sunrise, soon it would be gone and the hills would bath in bright sunlight. Another glorious morning to start the day with. I had to think of that Romantic wanderer who sets out early in the morning for his long voyage across the mountains. He is enthusiastic to discover different countries and people, he is looking forward to adventures and to meet the love of his life. While he climbs the winding mountain path, he looks back to the place he has just left. A heartbreaking moment. He knows he must go, he feels this inner urge, there is no turning back. And still, leaving home to meet the unknown…
From time to time I just stare at the sky. I lose myself in that ocean of blue. The intoxication that overcomes me at such moments is close to the trance I enter into when I listen to some of Ludwig van Beethoven’s compositions. His Piano Sonata No. 3 in C, Op. 2 for instance. A few weeks ago I enjoyed the evening light in front of our house. The sun had already disappeared behind the trees and we were waiting for the bats to come out and flutter around. The blue hour.
Mozart was fond of Prague and Prague was fond of Mozart – that is a fact. The composer celebrated some of his earliest and biggest successes in Prague, like the lasting triumph of his operas “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Don Giovanni”, which endeared the city to a man looking for flattery. And of course the visit of such a distinguished guest as Mozart allowed the city to capture some of the glory that usually was reserved to Vienna, the capital city of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.