There are surprisingly few traces of Mozart in a city where he spent chunks of 29 years living in 20 houses. Some of those structures still stand, and one, known as the Mozart House on Schulerstrasse, provides a good feel for 18th-Century Vienna. Mozart aside, Vienna is one of the easiest places in Europe in which to vanish into another time, wandering the narrow back alleys and ducking into any number of 17th- and 18th-Century churches.
St. Stephen's Cathedral, where Wolfgang married Constanze, is breathtaking, and the perfect place to hear the Requiem, which will be performed there by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus in December to bring the Mozart year to a magnificent close.
The Mozart history presented in this year of celebration is not designed to display a new version of the man, or even to correct the false impressions of him that have filled the popular mind.
"I'm not against myths," Weiser says. "Myths happened to personalities. You can't kill them. Try to convince the world that Richard III was no hunchback and was an intelligent man. You can't, because you are not as smart as Shakespeare.
"The film 'Amadeus' created a legend one should not destroy. Of course, it's silly to think that Mozart died dictating the end of the Requiem to Salieri. It's rubbish. But Mozart would have wanted to die that way. Why destory it?"
A more academic exhibit at the National Library is designed to set the record straight on Mozart's life, showing through financial records that the composer was hardly the struggling pauper many biographers have idealized.
But the bulk of the Mozart bash is meant instead to boost Vienna, the music and the myth of the child genius whose every bit of creation is being shoveled before the worldwide public in concerts (New York's Lincoln Center is spending 19 months running through the complete works) and on recordings.
Organizers of Vienna's celebration are very big on a quote someone dug up in which the composer, in a letter to his father, said, "Vienna is the best place in all the world for my metier."
These days, the Viennese actually prefer Beethoven and Strauss, although the city's concert halls are dutifully presenting great globs of Mozart this year.
Of course, this game of claiming a piece of Mozart's greatness can be played by any number of cities in this part of the world, and many of them are doing just that, laying on musical festivals and latching onto some shred of history that seems to justify their connection to Wolfgang.
Salzburg, the composer's birthplace, does the most honest job of it. Even though Mozart despised the place, Salzburg is richly packed with relics such as the boy's child-sized violin and a lock of his hair.
There's even a town in Germany, Augsburg, that has trotted out a fellow named Wolfgang Mozart, who is supposedly the composer's only living direct descendant. This Mozart is 27, builds scaffolds for a living, has curly red hair and spent his childhood being teased by schoolmates who heard his name and said, "Yeah, and I'm Johann Sebastian Bach, ha, ha." The modern Mozart has never heard a Mozart opera, owns only one symphony recording, which he doesn't particularly like, and prefers the pop song "Rock Me, Amadeus."
All this mania is, of course, relatively new to the composer, and much of it traces to the Hollywood version of his life peddled by Milos Forman's "Amadeus," an adoringly mischievous characterization of Mozart as an impossible, irresponsible, irrevelant imp. Mozart was famous in his own time, but he won decidedly mixed reviews, and Emperor Joseph II delivered the ultimate putdown when he dismissed one of the young man's works by saying, "Too many notes, my dear Mozart."
It is only in this century that Mozart has achieved a place in the pantheon of musical history, and now comes a year of commemoration that conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt complains is "squashing poor Mozart like a steamroller." But organizers of the Vienna events say no damage is being done; rather, Mozart is being introduced to a new generation of listeners.
Mozart revisionism has been all the rage in the music world in recent years, as proponents of the original instruments movement applied their new orthodoxy to his works. In Vienna, where Mozart's face now adorns the 5,000 schilling note (about $500), there is no attempt this year to put a new spin on Mozart's works. If there is any trend in the concert programs that fill the city's cultural calendar, it is the reverse: a return to the serene, somewhat syrupy interpretation that Vienna orchestras long have preferred for Mozart--and just about every other composer for that matter.
All this Mozart is expected to bring more visitors to Vienna than any previous event. But the Gulf War put a major crimp in the beginning of the celebration, as Americans and Japanese tourists led the wave of cancellations.
But bookings are coming back strong, tourism officials say.