The Mozarteum Foundation possesses six original instruments owned by Wolfgang Amadé Mozart:
four string instruments (Mozart’s childhood violin, his Salzburg concert violin, his Costa violin and his viola)
and two keyboard instruments (his fortepiano and his clavichord).
All these instruments are in excellent playable condition and are regularly used in concerts.
Mozart’s childhood violin was built by the Salzburg court luthier Andreas Ferdinand Mayr (1693–1764), who was also an imperial household servant and musician colleague of Leopold Mozart. His name is given on a label inside the instrument. Though the exact date is not legible, the violin was probably made in the 1740s. It was donated to the Mozarteum Foundation in 1896.
By the time he was five, Wolfgang Amadé Mozart was already playing the piano and violin. To his father’s amazement the child began making music on the violin without any previous instruction, and according to one anecdote he spontaneously accompanied his father’s playing with musical friends. In 1762 Leopold reported from his first trip to Vienna that Wolfgang had “played him [the customs officer] a minuet on his little fiddle”.
Mozart’s skill on the violin was great even though his relationship with the instrument became ambivalent with the passing years. From his letters written during the long journey to Munich, Mannheim and Paris in 1778–79, we know that he played his own, highly demanding violin concertos and solo works publicly and was astonished by the great approbation bestowed on them. “You yourself do not know how well you play the violin”, remarked Leopold, himself a violinist and author of the Treatise on the Fundamental Art of Violin Playing, on his son’s proficiency.
When Mozart’s return to detested court service was looming, however, towards the end of the Paris trip, he wrote decisively to his father: “There is one more thing I must settle about Salzburg and that is that I shall not be kept to the violin, as I used to be. I will no longer be a fiddler. I want to conduct at the clavier and accompany arias” (11 September 1778). Mozart was able to realize this plan in Vienna where, during the last ten years of his life, the keyboard became his main instrument. Enthusiastically he wrote in 1781 to his father in Salzburg: “This is undoubtedly the land of the piano!”
Here you find a description of Mozart’s instruments which are property of the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation.