Mozart &
Material Culture


At first a Russian-Turkish conflict, in 1788 the Austrian emperor Joseph II was drawn into the war by a treaty of alliance he had made in 1781 with the Russian Empire. The war led to an economic downturn in Vienna and, with troops concentrated in the east, facilitated civil unrest in other parts of in the empire, including the Austrian Netherlands and Hungary. Joseph II, who had led his troops at the front, returned to Vienna in November 1788, in ill health; he died on 20 February 1790. Joseph’s successor, Leopold II, negotiated the Treaty of Sistova, which ended the war on 4 August 1791.

Mozart Relevance

The financial downturn caused of the Austro-Turkish War appears possibly to have negatively affected artistic patronage in Vienna and attendance at public concerts. By and large, however, this should not have been particularly significant to Mozart: he had apparently stopped giving public concerts by mid-1786 (possibly to concentrate on lucrative operatic commissions), and in 1787 had been appointed chamber musician to Joseph II, which provided him with a reasonable yearly salary and left him free to pursue other composition and performing opportunities. Among these were opportunities to write patriotic music including Ich möchte wohl der Kaiser sein K539, which Mozart listed in his thematic catalogue as Ein teutsches kriegslied (A German Warsong). 

K539 1.jpeg

K539 1

'Ich möchte wohl der Kaiser sein' K539 (Mozart's thematic catalogue)

'Ich möchte wohl der Kaiser sein' K539 (Mozart's thematic catalogue)

Date 1
Date 2
Date (Mozart)
Location (Mozart)

Pages referencing Austro-Turkish War:

W. A. Mozart, Music for the memorial to Field Marshall Gideon Laudon