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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 January 2006, 02:27 GMT
World celebrates Mozart's genius
Mozart shop in Salzburg
Shops in Salzburg sell all kinds of Mozart memorabilia
Celebrations marking the 250th birthday of Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are being held around the world.

Many of the events are centred on his birthplace in Salzburg, and Vienna, where he died at the age of 35.

In Salzburg, visitors were treated to an all-Mozart gala concert, and there was a big street party with wine and a huge birthday cake.

Dedicated recitals are being staged in Moscow, Prague, London, Tokyo, Havana and New York among many other cities.

"You feel Mozart in every street here," Salzburg resident Christine Mandle told Reuters news agency, as she stood with thousands of others to listen to church bells mark the hour the composer was born - at 2000 local time (1900 GMT) on 27 January 1756.

Salzburg also saw the Vienna Philharmonic perform Mozart's Piano Concert No 18, before renowned Italian conductor Riccardo Muti leads a musical tribute.

Sydney harbour
An orchestra performed on a floating aquashell in Sydney

Muti told Austrian radio that Mozart remained "very current", adding that he "knew how to say the indescribable with the simplest of means".

Surrounding the Salzburg events are dozens of shops and stalls selling all kinds of Mozart memorabilia including cuddly toys, T-shirts, baseball caps and even golf balls.

Gabi Burgstaller, Salzburg's regional leader, summed up the composer's importance, telling concert-goers: "Mozart would have existed without Salzburg, but Salzburg, this Salzburg, would not exist without Mozart."

New productions of Idomeneo and The Magic Flute were staged in opera houses in Vienna, where Mozart made his home.

A new museum has opened in the building where Mozart lived from 1784 to 1787 and where he composed The Impresario and The Marriage of Figaro.

Both Austrian cities are offering visitors tours highlighting places the composer visited, including his favourite restaurants and the homes of his friends and enemies.

Some Austrians think it is all exaggerated but lots of people are enjoying themselves, the BBC's Bethany Bell in Vienna says.

Mozart mania

The opening chords of the celebrations were heard in Sydney, where the city's symphony orchestra performed Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and his Divertimento No. 11 in D major from an "aquashell" floating in the harbour.

Mozart would have existed without Salzburg, but Salzburg, this Salzburg, would not exist without Mozart
Gabi Burgstaller
Salzburg regional leader

Libby Christie, managing director of the orchestra, said she was "delighted" to be kicking off the celebrations.

In the US, many classical radio stations were sweeping away their usual playlists in favour of playing back-to-back Mozart.

Even in country music-obsessed Nashville there will be a concert of his Piano Concerto No 21.

Mozart, who has long been hailed a genius, was a child prodigy having composed his first symphony before the age of 10 and his first successful opera by the age of 12.

Before his early death he had created hundreds of solo and orchestral pieces, inspiring the likes of Beethoven and Wagner.


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