Mozartians and others wandering through Salzburg may have noticed, on the arch linking the Franciscan monastery to the Franciscan Church -just behind the Cathedral, close to St Peter’s – a plaque commemorating Pater Peter Singer (1810-82). Father Singer was a member of the Franciscan order there, from 1830 to 1837; then, after a brief career in his native Tyrol, he settled in Salzburg in 1840 as organist and choirmaster at the monastery. He was the city’s leading musical figure in the mid-19th century. Singer was an immensely prolific composer of church music in a late (indeed posthumous) version of the Viennese classical style; it has been described as ‘excessively sentimental’. He also wrote on music theory, but was most famous for his Pansymphonikon, a huge organ intended to be capable of imitating every instrument of the orchestra, which he designed and built in 1845.
Until recently there was a museum to Father Singer within the monastery; now he is commemorated with a showcase, in which his sacred objects (a cross and rosaries) may be seen, with his reading glasses and, immaculately preserved, his skull. The musical items are now deposited at the Franciscan foundation in Lienz, in the Tyrol (phone +43/0 4852 62066). Visitors interested in Father Singer can be admitted at the monastery’s main entrance and taken to see the showcase.