While the international music world celebrates, especially in Vienna, Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday, there is the small northern Italian town of Rovereto, which has not forgotten another famous 18th century composer prodigy who visited three times the township: the Austrian Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born in Salzburg, Austria, on January 27th, 1756, fourteen years before the birth of the German composer was born in Bonn on December 17th, 1770.
Both composers died in the Austrian Imperial capital, where they are still celebrated and remain buried at the Viennese Zentralfriedhof.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart spent many years traveling, composing, performing in his home town, abroad, and in Vienna where he died on December 5th, 1791. As a child prodigy, and later as a grown up young man, pushed by his father’s ambitions, the Austrian pianist and composer played in Belgium, Germany, England, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, former Czechoslovakia (today’s Slovakia and the Czech Republic) and Italy. Mozart visited and performed his music in the Northern Italian township of Rovereto, in Juliet and Romeo’s home-town of Verona, in Venice, Milan, Bologna, Florence and Naples. He and his father were particularly fond of Rovereto, where red carpets had been laid out by the local aristocrats and rich silk merchants for the young composer. The township had an active academic and intellectual crowd which had welcomed Mozart lavishly praising him beyond expectations.
Ludwig van Beethoven, on the other hand, did not travel much internationally. After the German prodigy composer had left his home town of Bonn for Vienna, in 1787, hoping to be able to study under Mozart, and again in 1792, hoping to study with Haydn, which he did, health issues and a gradual insetting deafness always plagued him. His plans of travelling outside Austria and throughout Germany had to take a break. The German composer was 21 years old when he arrived in the Austrian imperial capital. There he lived on and off for the rest of his life supported and sponsored by various Austrian aristocratic benefactors. Besides playing in Prague, Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin, Ludwig van Beethoven had hoped to play his compositions for an English audience but he never was able to do so.
Had the two composers been neighbors, or school mates of the same age, they would have been in all probability fierce competitors since they were constantly driven to exhaustion by ambitious fathers. However, as music history goes, four years before Mozart’s death, the two composers met in Vienna where both realized how they were destined to music world immortality. After their encounter, Amadeus apparently commented that the superb talent of Ludwig would lead the young Catholic German composer to great success; Ludwig also was impressed by the Austrian master composer and wrote of his respect for Mozart to his friends.
Trying to find peace and health at Austrian thermal resorts, and attempting to hide from Viennese musicians who were more than eager to copy his musical compositions with which he earned a living for himself and his adopted nephew, the restless and at time very difficult Ludwig van Beethoven moved more than twenty two times within the Viennese region. Frustrated by his gradual incoming deafness, the German composer left a moving “Testament” writing in the village of Heiligstadt, outside Vienna, where he described his feelings about his own hearing problems which justified his eccentric solitary life-style and a letter declaring his unwavering love for a woman who he never named. He died in Vienna on March 26, 1827, at the age of 57, eulogized by the famous Austrian writer Grillparzer who led a funeral procession which counted more than 20,000 citizens and music fans.
Both composers were consumed by their talents and by wanting to create music since a young age, however, both made time for food and drinks.
Used to a life of aristocratic parties, financial support, fancy elegance and applause, Mozart lived lavishly, even while he was at times out of money. He loved especially those specialties which were and still are typically Austrian: liver dumpling soup (Leberknoedelsuppe), semolina dumpling soup (Griesnockerlnsuppe), Parmesan cheese souffleed omelet wedges in soup (Parmesanschoeberlsuppe), sweet shredded pancake (Schmarren), Linzertorte (jam filled pie), boiled tri tip of beef (Tafelspitz)… and no…no Wiener Schnitzel which had not been introduced yet into Viennese cuisine during his time.
Beethoven’s hearty and disorderly appetite, together with his restlessness and impatience, made him prefer hearty foods, such as cold cuts, rye bread, Speck (air cured bacon) which he washed down with cheap Austrian wine. According to his biographers, Beethoven taste for foods and drinks seem hardly to qualify him today as a refined gourmand. Either due to his parents’ poverty, carelessness, ignorance, Ludwig was never instructed how to behave with social grace, and probably as a child rarely, if ever, was exposed to the same social amenities which included fine dining as Mozart had experienced, surrounded as he was by high church prelates, nobles and wealthy admirers. Ludwig’s meal choices, probably somewhat refined in Vienna, never ceased to reflect a simple hearty Germanic taste. He loved roasted veal, which he considered an absolute food delicacy, which was probably stuffed the Viennese way with bread dumpling dough. Salted boiled cod and cabbage, grilled fish from the Danube, or brought in from the nearby eastern European lake Balaton, such as carp and Sander fish (Sander lucioperca), also called Schill, Hechtbarsch, Zahnmaul, or Fogossch, together with boiled potatoes (Erdaepfel) cultivated in Austria since the 17th century, long before the French created French Fries, were his favorite meals served on Fridays.
To celebrate these two amazing artists, and for those of us who wish to cook something which their musical heroes would have liked, I came up with two classic recipes which are indeed examples of the classic Austrian cuisine influenced by Hungarian and Northern Italian way of cooking:
FOR MOZART’S AND BEETHOVEN’S DINING TABLE – PARMESAN SCHOEBERL (PARMESAN CHEESE SOUFLEED OMELET WEDGES)
Serves a party of 8-12
6 egg whites of large eggs
salt to taste
6 egg yolks of large eggs
3 Tbsp melted butter
6 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 oz flour
Enough butter to grease a rimmed one quarter sheet pan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F for at least 20 minutes. Beat the egg whites with the salt to a very stiff peak. Whisk the egg yolks and fold them into the egg whites gently, alternating flour, melted butter and Parmesan cheese. Grease the rimmed pan, line it with parchment paper; grease the parchment paper with more butter. By hand, with a spatula, spread the fluffy mass onto the bottom of the pan and bake it for about 10-12 minutes or until the mass has a fairly firm consistency. Set aside for a few minutes and turn the rimmed pan upside down on a heat resistant cutting surface. Let the Schoeberls cool off, cut them into either squares or diamonds. Serve them in clear consommé broth.
ON THE AUSTRIAN SCHOEBERLN
These very special Viennese wedges of souffleed omelet, which are served in clear soups or consommés’, date back to the old classic Viennese cuisine. They are light and floating soup “dumplings” which probably came to be as a variation of the Austrian all-around Frittatensuppe, which serves thin strips of savory crepes in clear broth. Austrian cuisine includes various recipes on Schoeberln, which change name according to added ingredients, such as: Parmesanschoeberln (with Parmesan cheese), Biscuitschoeberln (only made with eggs and flour whisked to a peak, like for the German biscuit), Kaiserschoeberln (with chives and Parmesan cheese), Kauterschoeberln (with herbs such as fresh basil, tarragon or chervil), Karottenschoeberln (with shredded or grated carots), Markschoeberln (with bone marrow), Gemueseschoeberln (with peas and minced celeriac, carrots, and parsley), Schinkenschoeberln (with minced ham), Gratzerschoeberln (with peas), Kohlschoeberln (with white bread, minced smoked pork, and cabbage), Milzschoeberln (with minzed cooked spleen of veal), Leberschoeberln (with calf or beef liver), Hirnschoeberln (with calf or beef brain), Krebsschoeberln (with crab meat), Fischschoeberln (with white fish meat) and Griesschoeberln (with cream of wheat or semolina).
EASY GRIESNOCKERLN (SEMOLINA DUMPLINGS) FOR CLEAR BROTH
Serves 2 – Makes about 6-8 dumplings
1 large egg, 3 Tbsps butter, softened, 6-7 Tbsps semolina flour, salt and freshly ground pepper, enough clear broth – Optional – Fresh snipped chives
Whisk egg and softened butter; add spoon-wise the semolina flour and mix. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. With the help of a teaspoon, make small dumplings. Drop them in the boiling broth. They will be ready when the float on the surface. Add the fresh chives.
FOR BEETHOVEN’S FRIDAY LUNCH – SERBIAN-HUNGARIAN STYLE ZANDER
4 large or 8 medium sized fillets of Zander (if not available use carp)
Kosher salt to taste
White coarsely ground pepper to taste
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp of Hungarian paprika
Enough flour to dust the fillets
Enough butter or oil to fry or broil the fish
Mix the salt, pepper, minced garlic, paprika and flour. Distribute this mixture on a flat surface or platter and dip and turn over each piece of fillet in the mixture until the fish is coated on both sides. Heat butter or oil and fry or broil the fish, skin facing down, until the fillets are crispy. Top the fish with garlic butter and serve with boiled potatoes.
How to make the garlic butter: In a food processor, mix at medium speed: 1/3 cup of butter left out at room temperature, 3 minced minced cloves of garlic, salt and white pepper to taste, and, if you like, one stemless sprig of parsley until you obtain a fairly smooth paste. Using a pastry bag squeeze out in small decorative heaps the garlic butter mixture over the fried or broiled fish fillets.
ON THE AMERICAN CHILES, PAPRIKA IN SERBIA, HUNGARY, AND AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN CUISINE
Dating back to at least 10,000 years ago and native to Bolivia, Brazil, Peru and Mexico, American “chiles”, also called chile peppers moved to Europe in 1493 after Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America. In fact, it was him who saw first and described the pungent fruit of the Capsicum frutescens. In Spain, the Capsicum became known as chile pimento. Through the political and diplomatic connections of the Habsburgs, which tied Hungary to the Viennese Empire and to Spain, and along the Danube, the fiery pepper arrived to Hungary. There it was grown to be used instead of the more expensive black pepper. In fact, Serbians began calling it “paprika” from a distortion name of the pepper. In time locally grown “paprika” peppers, planted under different climatic conditions, became the substitute to black, or white pepper. Paprika was used especially in local goulash dishes and or with Serbian fish specialties. All this, long before 1700, when Pitton de Tournefort chose to call the American fruit, Capsicum, and before 1753, when Carolus Linnaeus divided the botanical species of American chiles in two different groups: the group of the Capsicum annum, which requires annual replanting, and the group of the Capsicum frutescens which grows as a shrub and is perennial.
Mozart also loved breakfasting with hot chocolate beverages. Those were served to him whisked and hot, after being introduced to Austria from Spain during the early 17th century.
Beethoven probably liked hot cocoa too, however, there was yes, whisked hot chocolate in the 17th and 18th centuries, but no Sacher Torte during the two composers’ life time. The famous chocolate glazed Sacher cake with jam filling was created later in the 19th century.
FOR MODERN MOZART AND CHOCOLATE ENTHUSIASTS IN SALZBURG AND VIENNA, THERE ARE ALSO THE MODERN MOZARTKUGELN AND TALER BEYOND A SUPERB MUSIC…
ORIGINAL AND NON ORIGINAL MOZARTKUGELN AND MOZART CHOCOLATE CREATIONS
The first Original and very famous Mozartkugel was created by a Salzburg pastry chef Fuerst who presented the blue-silver tin wrapped chocolate ball at an exhibition in Paris. His and his family’s pastry shop still exist in Salzburg. One is downtown Salzburg, in the Alter Markt neighborhood (Brodgasse 13, 5020 Salzburg; Tel. +43 662 84 37 59-0), another is located in the Mirabellenplatz (Mirabellenplatz 5, 5020 Salzburg; Tel. + 43 662 88 1077), the third is in the Ritsbogen neighborhood (Sigmund Haffnergasse, 5020 Salzburg; Tel. +43 662 849137 and the fourth is located in the Getreidegasse (Getriedegasse 47, 5020 Salzburg; Tel. +43 662 843621).
The world of Mozartkugeln and Mozart chocolate products is full of creations which were more or less copied from the very first chocolate ball, Fuerst’s Original Mozartkugel. There are German versions by Reber, which are called Real Reber Mozartkugeln and there are various Austrian versions, such as Mirabelle’s of Salzburg and Heiner’s of Vienna. Today among all chocolate products which carry the name of Mozart only Fuerst’s creation is legally authorized to label the chocolate ball, the Original Mozartkugel.
FOR MODERN MOZART AND CHOCOLATE ENTHUSIASTS IN NORTHERN ITALIAN ROVERETO, BESIDES VISITING THE PLACES WHERE MOZART PLAYED:
EXQUISITA – IN CACAO WE TRUST
Via Felice e Gregorio Fontana, 10
38068 ROVERETO (Trento), ITALY – Tel. 39 0464 420757; http://www.exquisita.it
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON BEETHOVEN AND MOZART SITES, TOURS, CALENDAR OF EVENTS, GUIDED TOURS:
VISITING MOZART IN VIENNA including his Viennese home: http://www.mozarthausvienna.at
GUIDED WALKING TOURS IN VIENNA including Mozart site: http://www.goodtours.eu
VISITING ONE OF SEVERAL CHOCOLATE SITES AND HEINER’S SCHOKO MUSEUM AND SHOP: https://www.schokomuseum.at/en
VISITING MOZART SITES IN ROVERETO – FOR A CALENDAR OF EVENTS, AND FOR GUIDED TOURS CONTACT:
ASSOCIAZIONE MOZART ITALIA, Via della Terra, 48 – 38068 Rovereto, Italy; Tel. and Fax: +39 0464 422719 or email: inforami@mozartItalia.org or access http://www.mozartitalia.org and or ACCADEMIA DI MUSICA ANTICA, Piazza San Marco 7, 38068 Rovereto at http://www.archivumusicum.it/accademia-musica-antica/
ROVERETO’S TOURIST INFORMATION OFFICE: https://www.visitrovereto.it