Austria's ever-resourceful entrepreneurs are putting together a celebration this year to cash in on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's death 200 years ago - an event the Viennese waltzed through with characteristic indifference at the time.
But Mozart has become big business here, with Mozart cookies, Mozart chocolates, plastic Mozart heads, models of Mozart playing the violin.And don't forget the much-prized 180-record "definitive Mozart, every note recorded" collectors' CD set emblazoned with commemorative rosette, displayed at all fine stores.
Coming 35 years after Austria's 200th anniversary celebrations in 1956 of Mozart's birth and 50 years after the 150th anniversary of his death, some cynics are getting a little bored with the commercialization of music that the acerbic British playwright Noel Coward said "sounds like piddling on flannel" and others called simply bland.
But the good burghers of Vienna see big bucks to be made with tourists flooding from around the world to see the town where the great composer died.
Tiny Salzburg, the town where Mozart was born but hated passionately, is mapping even more ambitious plans throughout the year at the Mozart Festival Hall to commemorate their greatest son and only claim to fame. Mozart's birthplace is being properly decked out, and concerts are planned through September.
Unfortunately, all this adulation comes a little late. The play and movie "Amadeus" is largely wonderful fiction, but it's correct in its dramatic ending, where Mozart's corpse was sent off unescorted through the darkened streets to Vienna's St. Mark's Cemetery, where it was dumped in an unmarked pauper's grave the day after his death Dec. 5, 1791.
No one seems to have really cared about Mozart then, as shown by the fact there's little left of his physical legacy. Although patronized by the Hapsburgs, Mozart seems to have been viewed at the time as a sort of pop musician and former child prodigy whose scores were popular but not lasting.
After the "Marriage of Figaro," which snooty aristocrats regarded as far too racy and radical, Mozart's popularity in fashionable Vienna fell off sharply.
But his musical legacy didn't die and came to haunt Vienna. It wasn't until 1859 that the city fathers got around to establishing a commission to find the exact location of his grave for proper commemoration. The current garish monument with its crying cherub is only a guess of where he was buried.
Nor is there much of Mozart's Vienna left. He lived in no less than 12 houses in the 10 years he lived in Vienna, a city he loved. Historians who have reconstructed his finances doubt stories that he was impoverished, and most of his homes were on fashionable streets. Indeed, he seems to have lived comfortably and regularly paid off his debts.
The best preserved of his Viennese homes is a second-floor apartment consisting of six rather small rooms on Great Schulerstrasse in the old city. With mercantile enthusiasm and no little hype, the apartment has been renamed the "Figaro House" for obvious reasons, and the brochure boasts that "nowhere in the world is a memorial place of art and music of this rank to be found."
It was rebuilt in 1941 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Mozart's death, dusted off again in 1956 and taken over by the city fathers in 1976 for refurbishment as a museum.
To get there, you have to dig through scaffolding around back, which is unmarked, and go up the empty stairs to the second floor, where there's a small sign on the door, proclaiming you've found Mozart's home.
Inside, there is very little to remind anyone of Mozart. There are a few photocopies of Mozart manuscripts, a miniature of Mozart's profile bearing the initials A.M., which we're told there's been much historical work proving that it may - or may not - have been Mozart's very own possession; and a couple of coins recovered during renovation that may - or may not - have fallen out of Mozart's pocket, or been hidden away and forgotten.
He lived here for three years. Both Haydn and the 16-year-old Beethoven stopped by to see him. (Beethoven later lived here, and was buried with proper ostentation along with Schubert in the Central Cemetery).
But nothing remains of Mozart's furniture, and the only room of any interest is his stucco study, bare except for a corner table.
The other Vienna monument of Mozart interest is the plaque outside the entrance to the catacombs of St. Stephen's cathedral a few blocks away that commemorates the brief stop Mozart's hearse made before whisking the body off to the pauper's grave. St. Stephen's and its catacombs, by the way, are fascinating.
Mozart spent his last 15 months in Vienna living at 8 Rauhensteingasse, a building torn down two years after his death and today uncommemorated.
The bottom line: It's a waste of time going to Vienna this year in search of Mozart. You will, of course, hear a lot of music, and I can recommend the chocolates - a self-described "harmonical triad" of almond icing, chocolate and nougat. The rest of it is hype.
But watch out: If Austrian hoteliers and restaurateurs judge this anniversary excess successful, wait for what happens in a few years when it comes time for the anniversaries of the deaths of Schubert and Beethoven.