“I’d rather have met Nannerl”
In the footsteps of Mozart in Sankt Gilgen at Lake Wolfgang
What did Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart have to do with St. Gilgen? “Quite a lot!” says Augustin Kloiber, and he should know. As a certified restorer and museum curator of the Local History Museum of St. Gilgen, he knows the town and its history like the back of his hand. He took us on a journey through his St. Gilgen and led us along the way through memories of W.A. Mozart and his family.
The Mozart Family and St. Gilgen are very closely related. For example, Mozart’s uncle was the town judge and Mozart’s mother was born in St. Gilgen. Mozart’s sister Anna Maria, better known as “Nannerl”, spent 17 years of her life there. And she was really not very happy about it, especially right after moving there.
Nannerl moved to St. Gilgen in 1784. Her husband with the long name, Johann Baptist Reichsfreiherr Berchtold von Sonnenberg, brought five children from previous marriages, and together with Nannerl, two more came into the world. The family lived in the “Mozart House”, which one can visit today and experience through the interestingly designed exhibition.
Although St. Gilgen is nowadays an attractive destination for tourists from all over the world, this was not always the case. When Nannerl married Johann Berchtold von Sonnenberg, there was no more than a glass factory and a brewery in St. Gilgen. “For a woman with her talent this was certainly difficult, especially because no one of her status lived there,” presumes Augustin Kloiber.
“You have to imagine this – a highly talented woman like Nannerl, a very good pianist, if not the best pianist of her time. And then she comes here to a fishing village, there was no-one of her status here and that must have been terribly hard for her.”
And although the initial time for Nannerl would have taken some getting used to, she remained in St. Gilgen until her husband’s death. It is quite clear that she left some traces in the Salzkammergut and in the Mozart House, which sits picturesquely on the banks of Lake Wolfgang.
Mozart’s birthplace and his house in the City of Salzburg are well known by many people. The Mozart House in St. Gilgen, on the other hand, is still an insider’s tip. Beautifully situated on the shores of the turquoise blue Lake Wolfgang, the house offers an exciting exhibition on the Mozart family and the inhabitants of the house. On a modern timeline, interested visitors learn that Nannerl moved into the house in 1784 and many years later, the same house was bought and managed by the Mozart Village Cultural Association.
When you walk through St. Gilgen, you will inevitably pass by the Mozart Fountain. Located on Mozart Square, in the centre of the village, the work was created by the Viennese Art Nouveau sculptor Karl Wollek. The violin-playing Mozart is shown. “This is one of the most photographed places in the area,” says Kloiber on his way to the parish church.
“The parish church in St. Gilgen is very important, because here there is the basin in which Mozart’s mother was baptised on the day of her birth,” explains Augustin Kloiber when visiting the church. But that is not all there is of Mozart’s history in the church – the tomb of Nannerl’s mother-in-law and her husband are also here.
Salzburg is well known for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He is also the reason why every year countless guests from all around the world come to trace the footsteps of Mozart and his family. And what does Augustin Kloiber say about this? “I would rather have met Nannerl during her 17 years here and chatted with her and played music. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible,” he laughs.