There was something magical about 18th century Prague that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart could not resist.
Although Mozart was one of Vienna’s most influential musical residents, he also loved the fact that Prague was musically educated and very appreciative of the arts.
Mozart’s Visits to Prague
Mozart visited Prague five times, mostly to premiere some of his work.
His first visit, which lasted about a month, was in January 1787. He was greeted by Praguers as a star – concerts were organized in his honor and during a performance by the local symphony, he jumped on stage to improvise a solo on a piano. He was so beloved and so successful during the trip that he returned in October to premiere Don Giovanni at the Stavovské divadlo Estates Theater.
Mozart didn’t visit Prague again until 1789, when he stopped by twice during a roundtrip to Berlin.
In 1791, Mozart came back for the premiere of his opera La clemenza di Tito. Although it debuted to great acclaim, the coronation of Leopold II’s as king of Bohemia was happening at the same and somewhat overshadowed Mozart’s visit.
Mozart in Prague Today
The Stavovské divadlo Estates Theatre is still standing and still includes Don Giovanni in its repertoire. If you ever thought about catching a performance, why not do it in the same theater Mozart loved? You can also visit the Strahov Monastery and the Church of Sts. Simon and Jude, two other places where Mozart played.
The Czech Museum of Music owns the two-meter mahogany piano Mozart played on stage.
Although details are scarce regarding when and how, the story goes that Mozart was invited at one point to live at Villa Bertramka, located in what is now Prague 5. At the time, the villa belonged to soprano singer Josepha Dusche and her husband, who had become friends with Mozart. Although many also believe that Mozart completed his operas Don Giovanni and La clemenza di Tito while living at the villa, there’s little documentation regarding this.
Regardless of what is true and what’s the stuff of legends, Villa Bertramka is now a Mozart museum where you can see original manuscripts and correspondence, drawings, and musical instruments (including a piano Mozart played during his first visit to Prague).
Featured image via Royal Opera House Covent Garden/Flickr/CC BY 2.0