If there’s a city that can pull off a touristic Mozart dinner concert, it’s the composer’s birthplace of Salzburg in Austria. The musicians and singers are mostly trained at the famous Mozarteum and the meal prepared in Europe’s oldest restaurant. Add to that the ambiance of the Baroque Hall in the Stiftskeller St Peter, and you’ve got a winner that even the locals enjoy.
When planning a trip to Salzburg with a good friend from South Africa, attending a classical concert was a must on our list of things to do. My research showed we can’t go wrong with the Mozart dinner concert, which is patterned after an evening that might have occurred during Mozart’s life.
Why dinner AND music?
Because the composer himself makes numerous references to culinary delights in his operas and letters to other people. The special dinner concert menu is therefore prepared according to 18th-century recipes which Mozart would certainly approve of.
In fact, an excerpt from the 1783-diary of the composer’s sister Nannerl confirms the Mozart family did eat here:
“Papa and Henry had lunch at St Peter…”
Mozart dinner concert in Salzburg
|Dates||Every single day of the year|
|Prices||Regular adult ticket from €63|
|Duration||2,5 to 3 hours|
|Dress code||Smart casual|
The Mozart dinner concert repertoire
The musical programme at the Mozart dinner concert is performed by members of the Amadeus Consort Salzburg, consisting of two opera singers and five instrumentalists. Most of them are graduates of the world-renowned Mozarteum University in Salzburg.
Arias and duets from three of Mozart’s famous operas – Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute and The Marriage of Figaro – are performed before and between courses. In addition, you can look forward to a charming interpretation of the first movement of the popular serenade A Little Night Music.
I loved the enthusiasm of the musicians and the singers of the Amadeus Consort Salzburg. They play on original instruments and in appropriate period clothing. Their enjoyment of the music is palpable. You won’t say it’s something they repeat again and again for different audiences. The only slightly negative comment I have is that the soprano’s appearance was a bit dull compared to the other performers.
If you’re a foodie, you may turn your nose up at the 4-course Mozart dinner concert menu. Before you do, remember the food is meant to represent a typical meal during Mozart’s time. Also, it’s Austrian. There isn’t much colour on the plates. Dumplings and potatoes are pretty much the staple food.
This is what you can expect to eat during the Mozart dinner concert in Salzburg, although seasonal changes are possible:
Traditional dark bread (Schwarzbrot) – Baked in the St Peter’s kitchen and served with local butter. The bread is already on the table when you arrive.
Lemon chicken dumpling soup – Rosemary dumplings and curd cheese add substance to the clear soup.
Stuffed chicken breast – Described as a “stuffed breast of roasted capaun”. The chicken is stuffed with quark (a soft, unripened cheese) and herbs and served on a glaze of red wine. It’s accompanied by potato gratin and vegetables from the monastery garden.
Parfait of forest honey – A semi-frozen parfait served with two different sauces. I was delighted by the beautiful presentation with Mozart’s profile dusted on the plate in cocoa powder. It was a special touch to end a delightful evening.
Wine and beer are the appropriate drinks to accompany your Mozart dinner. However, it’s important to note that drinks aren’t included in the dinner concert price.
While the Stiftskeller St Peter proudly states that prices for wine and drinks are “based on a high level of gastronomy” it also means it doesn’t come cheap.
Mozart dinner concert guests can choose their wines from St Peter Stiftskeller’s impressive wine list to which you can find a link here. It’s possible to order wine by the glass but if you’re two or more people it works out a little cheaper to buy a bottle. We decided to splurge on one of the “cheaper” bottles of white wine and not worry about ordering drinks for the rest of the evening.
If you’re a beer drinker, the good news is that Austrian beer from the tap is more reasonably priced than the wine at Stiftskeller St Peter.
Stiftskeller St Peter
The Mozart dinner concert in Salzburg is held in the opulent Baroque Hall of the Stiftskeller St Peter. It’s one of the last old concert halls in the city where lighting with real candles is still permitted. The beautifully lit room with its stucco and frescoes and sparkling chandeliers is the perfect venue for this concert.
The Stiftskeller St Peter can easily claim to be home to the oldest restaurant in central Europe. It was first mentioned in 803 by the English scholar Alcuin of York in his Carmina anthology. Hell, it can even be the oldest existing restaurant in the world! Other than Mozart and his family, Christopher Columbus and Johann Georg Faust are said to have been served here.
The bigger St Peter’s Abbey, of which the Stiftskeller is a part, is at the foot of the Mönchsberg between the Salzburg Cathedral and the Festspielhaus. Founded in 696, it’s also the oldest monastery with a continuous history in Europe.
|Another interesting Mozart fact
The premiere of the uncompleted Great Mass in C minor, with Mozart’s wife Constanze singing first soprano, was supposed to take place in the St Peter’s Abbey church on 26 October 1783.
Tips for a memorable Mozart dinner concert experience
- For the best views of the stage and a fancier menu, book VIP tickets for the Mozart dinner concert. The 4-course menu includes Salzburger Nockerl as well as the city’s famous sweet and fluffy soufflé dessert. Your table is guaranteed to be in the first two rows from the front.
- Diners are seated on a first-come, first served basis. Arrive a bit earlier to ensure a good seat. We didn’t but were still very lucky to be seated at a table with two empty places near the front. Although we had our backs to the musicians, it was easy to turn our chairs around to face them every time they played. Since not all the VIP tables were occupied, there was no-one in front of us. A good time to arrive would be between 18:30 and 18:45 for the 19:30 show.
- The Baroque Hall is an elegant room and the tables are set to lend it an even greater sense of occasion. Think white tablecloths, silver cutlery, and candlelight. Make the effort to look a little smarter than when you’re out sightseeing. You don’t have to wear an evening dress and high heels, but you’ll stick out like a sore thumb in jeans and a T-shirt.
- Don’t arrive with a massive hunger and expect to be satisfied quickly. After the bread, the other three courses arrive slowly in between and after the musical performances. The portions were big enough for me but if you’re a big eater it’s best to already have something in your stomach at the start of the evening.
- Make the evening more interesting by talking to your table companions. Ours were a Swiss lady and an American couple. Afterward, we even met more South Africans who sat at a different table. And bumped into them again the next day on our day trip to Hallstatt!
- From 30 November to 30 December the regular dinner concert is replaced by a special Advent Mozart dinner concert. Tickets are a bit more expensive, starting at €74. The reason is that an extra course of veal terrine and oranges with mulled wine pear is served.
More Mozart concerts in Salzburg
If the Mozart dinner concert isn’t your thing, there are many more classical music concerts in Salzburg to choose from.
There’s the concert at Mirabell Palace where the Mozart family played for the Archbishop of Salzburg. Or why not listen to Mozart from an elevated position at the Hohensalzburg Fortress? The return trip with the cable car is included in the ticket price.
For an earlier concert which allows time for dinner after, the Mozart in Residence concerts are very popular.
Read more: If you find this review helpful, you may also enjoy my overview of the Salzburg Card with proposed itineraries.
Sleep in Mozart-style
Take your experience of Mozart in Salzburg to even greater heights by staying in the historic Hotel Mozart. It’s a small, family-run hotel within walking distance of the composer’s birthplace and only 5 minutes away from the Mozart Residence where the family later stayed. Also, read my review of the Altstadt Hotel Hofwirt where we stayed.
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