Wednesday 17 August 2016
Unlike my walk along the 'Julie-Andrews-Allee', this Salzburg jaunt wasn't serendipitous, but I did it the wrong way round, widdershins, as it were, unintentionally avoiding at first the Stations of the Cross. The great writer, and very much my current god in the reading stakes - from a biography by George Prochnik alongside Zweig's own studies of Marie Antoinette and Erasmus to his takes on Montaigne and now Mary Queen of Scots - bought an eyrie on the romantically-titled Kapuzinerberg in what, shortly after the First World War, was quiet, unfestivalled Salzburg. He chose the city for both for its calm and its position as 'the right springboard to [the rest of] Europe'. I'll let the author of The World of Yesterday paint the picture:
The little wooded hill on which I lived was the dying wave, so to speak, of the mighty mountain chain; inaccessible to automobiles [that only pertains up to a point now, though I saw no vehicles and only two other people on my way down]
and attainable only by a hundred or more stairs up a way of the Cross that was over three centuries old; the effort was rewarded by an enchanting view over the roofs and gables of the many-steepled city. Indulge me here: the light was good, so I give you three.
Zweig has to point out that the view in the other direction was towards the Alpine chain and - horrid irony - the Salzberg at Berchtesgaden where his oppressor, unknown at the time of purchase, would make his home. The fact that the 17th century Archbishop's lodge was in a ruinous state and well-nigh uninhabitable didn't put him off; nor did the cold in a time of post-war famine and need. It seems typical of Zweig's aristocratic remoteness that he only really got in touch with that on his few excursions a week into town.
The house is now screened on all sides by trees
and, sad to say, some dramatic barbed wire, but you can take the 'Weg' up behind the house into the woods. Had I had longer before returning to the hotel after a fine lunch in the Stiftskeller Skt Peter ('Europe's oldest restaurant'), I should have walked further to see the Alpine range end of things, but I went only so far,
having made the ascent via an obscure alley so that I hit the big view first and the church after.
There, at any rate, was a bust and wall plaque opposite the hidden house
after which I went down past the garden gate
and saw in reverse the Stations of the Cross.
A speedy walk towards the tram stop took me via the magical Steingasse which snakes between the Kapuzinerberg and the river, a mixture of the plush and established
with touches of Bohemianism.
At least Salzburg has a university, which saves it from ossification. Meanwhile, over at the Haus für Mozart where I saw the intriguing second performance of Adès's The Exterminating Angel, Zweig's bust
and Max Reinhardt's flank the entrance to one of the most opulent theatre bars in the world.
I was going on to write about Zweig's Montaigne, but work is pressing and the great French man of letters will have to join proud Mary Stuart when I've finished reading about her ill-starred path to the scaffold.