The Mozart Family and Empfindsamkeit
: Enlightenment and Sensibility in Salzburg 1750–1790

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The overarching theme of the present dissertation is the documentation of the cultural and intellectual environment of the Mozart family in Salzburg from 1750 until 1790. A particular focus lies on the cultural transfer between the Protestant North and the Catholic South of the German-speaking lands. Enlightenment and Empfindsamkeit as a social and aesthetic ideal are traditionally associated with the northern parts of Germany, yet a new evaluation of sources and documents in Salzburg demonstrates the currency of these ideas in the archbishopric.
The dissertation assembles a wide range of information regarding the erudition and interests of Salzburg citizens in general and more specifically of friends and acquaintances in the direct environment of the Mozart family, demonstrating their active participation in a cultural modernity at large. Detailed accounts on the book and sheet music trade in the archbishopric demonstrate the ubiquity of the newest cultural products from North Germany, France and England. At the centre of this dissertation stands a reconstruction of the Mozarts’ Salzburg library and their literary knowledge, which displays their wide interests and their participation in the vibrant cultural life of their hometown. The currency of and the high value attached to Empfindsamkeit within Salzburg culture is demonstrated in locally printed educational books, portrait collections, a ‘hill of friendship’ in Aigen near Salzburg, the theatre repertoire and the books and music for sale in town.
It is hoped that this vibrant cultural life, as documented in the present dissertation, will help to challenge several traditional concepts in historiography and Mozart biography about Enlightenment and modernity in Salzburg.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorCliff Eisen (Supervisor) & Matthew Head (Supervisor)

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