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Last Updated: Monday, 2 January 2006, 08:21 GMT
Mozart birthday fever grips Austria
By Bethany Bell
BBC News, Salzburg

Mozart memorabilia in Salzburg
All kinds of Mozart memorabilia can be found in Salzburg
Austria is celebrating the 250th birthday of one of its most famous sons - the composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Salzburg, the city of his birth, is hoping to cash in with a mixture of kitsch and high culture and its Mozart industry is going into overdrive this month.

An enterprising local dairy has developed a new Mozart yogurt and a Mozart dessert drink - flavoured with chocolate, hazelnut and marzipan.

The yogurt is one of hundreds of new products being developed for the composer's 250th birthday on 27 January.

As well as yogurt, you can buy Mozart sausage, Mozart baby bottles and Mozart perfume. Traders here are hoping for a bumper year.

Some Austrians think it all too much, including Kurt Palm, himself the author of a new book about Mozart.

"The new slogan for 2006 is not sex sells, but Mozart sells. If Mozart could see what happens now only in Austria, in Vienna or Salzburg this year, he would either only laugh about it or he would be disgusted," he says.

But for Salzburg, Mozart-marketing and tourism brings in the money. The city's mayor Heinz Schaden says the composer is one of the city's most important sources of income.

"It's probably difficult to calculate it in euros but if you make an opinion poll with all the tourists who come to Salzburg, many would say I want to see the city where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born. Salzburg is hard to imagine without Mozart. He put this city on the map."


But amidst the kitsch, Salzburg has not forgotten what really matters about Mozart: his music.

This summer there will be a chance to see every opera that Mozart wrote. For the first time, the famous Salzburg Festival is staging all 22 operas in five weeks.

Mozart memorabilia in Salzburg
All Mozart's operas will be performed for the anniversary

Suzanne Staehr from the Salzburg Festival says it is a huge logistical and artistic challenge.

"Normally we show five or six operas in a festival season. Next season we will show 22 operas. But when should this experiment be done except in the anniversary year - and where else but Salzburg? The city of his birth takes on this challenge," she says.

World-famous musicians and conductors will be performing Mozart including Simon Rattle, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Riccardo Muti.

It is a prospect that even excites jaded Salzburgers.

"For real Mozartians there can never be too much Mozart and in any case there is going to be a lot of Mozart, we perhaps haven't heard so much before and that's going to be exciting, discovering the undiscovered Mozart," a shopper in central Salzburg says.

"Mozart is a very famous citizen of Salzburg and we are proud to have him and we enjoy celebrating his 250th birthday," says a local civil servant. "We hope many people come to Salzburg - the more often they come the better it is for us."

In the ice rink in Salzburg's Mozart Square, there is even the chance to go skating to the strains of the Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute.

All this Mozart may be too much for some people, but Salzburgers know when they are on to a good thing.

See some of the Mozart memorabilia

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