Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven

A Search for Clues in the Lives of two Musical Geniuses

Busts of Mozart and Beethoven in the Paris Opera (Garnier Palace)

1861/74 Source: Wikimedia
The thirteen-year-old Ludwig van Beethoven

The thirteen-year-old Ludwig van Beethoven

Oil painting by a master from Bonn c. 1783 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) Source: Wikimedia

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in 1770, therefore, he was 14 years younger than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. During Mozart’s time as a child prodigy, the wife of a valet in Koblenz, Mrs. Van Beethoven, attended one of the concerts of Wolfgang and Nannerl. She was enthralled and had a dream. Should she ever have a child herself, it would be great to see it grow up as a child genius. Her dream was to come true. Ludwig van Beethoven, her son, became one of the greatest composers of his time.

Years later, while Mozart was facing a rough time after his return from Prague and was in dire need of money once again, Ludwig van Beethoven came to Vienna in 1787. He was sixteen and wanted to take lessons from Haydn and Mozart. Who knows what might have happened, had Beethoven’s mother not suddenly fallen ill, forcing him to return to Bonn after just two weeks. Mozart, who was working on “Don Giovanni” and was deeply worried for his fatally ill father, did not receive Beethoven, let alone give him lessons. When Beethoven returned to Vienna much later, Mozart was already dead.

Mozart, Beethoven – and the Symphony as Musical Genre

One of the greatest achievements of Mozart and Beethoven was the development of the symphony into a distinct, sophisticated and almost dramatic art form. Originally designed to serve as an introduction for a concerto or opera, both geniuses along with Joseph Haydn elevated the symphony to the genre we know today.