Mozart &
Material Culture

Souvenirs

Manned hot-air balloon flights became popular in the 1780s, in particular through the first flights of the early French balloonists Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier, Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Jean Pierre Blanchard. Exhibitions of ballon flights were given across Europe and in the United States.

 

Louis Joseph Watteau, La 14e expérience aérostatique de Monsieur Blanchard, Lille, 26 août 1785 ( Lille, musée de l'hospice Comtesse)

Louis Joseph Watteau, La 14e expérience aérostatique de Monsieur Blanchard, Lille, 26 août 1785 ( Lille, musée de l'hospice Comtesse)

Mozart Relevance

On 6 July 1791 Mozart wrote to his wife: 'This very moment Blanchard is either going up in his balloon — or else will fool the Viennese for the third time.' Mozart was at the time working on Die Zauberflöte and it may have been Blanchard’s success (on 6 July he successfully flew for one hour from the Prater to the village of Enzersdorf near Vienna) that inspired the scene at the start of the Act I finale of the opera where the Three Genii descend to the stage in a balloon.

Author/Creator
Blanchard, Jean-Pierre
Date (Mozart)
1791, July
Location (Mozart)
Vienna