Historical novelists recreate the emotions and events of distant times. It helps if they can use real places that still exist. In the case of MOZART’S LAST ARIA, I was able to set much of the action in streets and buildings where Mozart lived and worked – and where you can still visit.
In my historical thriller, the composer’s sister Nannerl comes to Vienna to investigate her suspicion that Wolfgang was poisoned. One of the men who helps her is Baron Gottfried van Swieten, an important patron of her brother. Swieten was Imperial Librarian, and you can see the majesty and learning of that time arrayed on the shelves of the Prunksaal, the great library attached to the Hofburg, the Emperors’ palace in central Vienna.
The library is open to the public, but you’ll rarely find more than five or six other visitors there at one time – most people are shuffling with the crowds through the Emperor’s rooms down the way. It’s a gem hidden in rather plain site.
The house where Mozart died was destroyed some time ago (though you can visit a museum in the house where he wrote The Marriage of Figaro nearby). There’s a department store there now, on Rauhenstein Lane. But if you stand with your back to the spot, you can look to your left, your right, and in front of you, and you’ll see just what Wolfgang would’ve seen – except there’ll be less horse manure on the streets. Much of central Vienna remains just as it was in Mozart’s time.
Despite its destruction, I was able to describe the interior of Mozart’s home quite fully, however. There have been a number of academic theses written about the furniture and layout of the apartment. Yes, really. (Some years ago, the startling discovery was made that not only did he have two windows on the front of his studio, but he also had another one on the side. You get a Ph.d. for this stuff, you know. But anyway I’m very grateful to those dedicated Mozartians.)
You can look at a photo tour of other Mozart sites and locations from MOZART’S LAST ARIA in Vienna on my website.
Read the rest of this post on my blog The Man of Twists and Turns.