The Mythical Encounter: Beethoven’s Alleged Audition for Mozart in Vienna

Bythu lita

Jan 2, 2024

For many folks unschooled in the world of classical, Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are two faces firmly on the Mount Rushmore of music, and the idea of them ever meeting is as mind-bending as Napoleon having a chin-wag with Julius Caesar. And yet, these giants of history not only met, but they did so in a manner so fateful that the whole thing proves almost eerie in retrospect.

The story of how Beethoven auditioned for Mozart

Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany in 1770. As a child, he exhibited musical talent from an early age. The legacy of another classical child prodigy was still fresh in the air of Europe. Mozart was born in 1756, and he caused a stir among the elite with his stunning skills when he was little more than a kid. In the process, Mozart changed the way musicians were viewed, and Beethoven’s father was keen for his son to follow in his footsteps, so practice proved pretty intense for him.

By the age of 14, Beethoven was already working as a musician. His performances at the court chapel saw his skills develop, and soon, he was deemed good enough to make the journey over to Vienna, Austria, to rub shoulders with the crème de la crème of music. At the age of 16, Beethoven found himself performing before Mozart. The maestro looked on curiously at this new hot-shot teen.

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He was awed by the youngster’s ability and extended an offer to Beethoven to be his teacher. Some reports even have Mozart uttering to an acquaintance mid-audition that that the young pianist before him would make a huge mark on the world, but such a line has never been firmly ratified. Nevertheless, the offer to be his mentor has been formally recorded, but tragically, it would never come to fruition.

Almost simultaneous with the audition, news reached Beethoven that his mother was now gravely ill. So, he returned with haste to Bonn and with a heavy heart, he was unable to accept Mozart’s offer. Soon after his return to Germany, his mother died, plunging his father into a downward spiral of alcoholism and depression. This left Beethoven responsible for the care of his siblings, and he was unable to return to Vienna.

After five years of support, he ventured back to Vienna, but sadly, Mozart had now passed away, too, at the age of 35. Still, there were plenty of masters around to help develop Beethoven, and Franz Joseph Haydn became his new mentor. The patron, Count Waldstein, who helped to broker this mentorship, shared the following fateful

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