Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are among the most accomplished classical music composers whose legacies in music world continue to marvel scholars. Both of them lived during the same period and composed some of the best musical compositions that are known in history. They also lived in the same city of Vienna, apparently having moved in to look for the better positions and salaries for their work. However, despite their accomplishments in music composition, the two musicians lived and died very fast, albeit poor and miserable lives. This paper is a comparison and contraction of musicians Ludwig van Beethoven, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
According to Josephson &Kiwak (2007),Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are 19th century classical music composers whose works continue to attract the interest of many scholars. Their contribution to the various music genres that they composed remain aesthetic features on the history of music. Even though the two composers lived almost in the same period, their lives and music sharply contrasted in the public sphere. However, similarities can also be identified in the way they composed their music and lived their lives. This paper compares and contrasts the lives and music of Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was born in 1770 in a musical family – his father and grandfather were both musicians. He started publishing his music at the age of twelve deputizing the Neefe. He spent most of his life in Vienna composing and writing music. Beethoven was accomplished music composer having studied under several musicians, such as Haydn, Schenk, and Salieri who directed his early composition at around 1792.
Josephson &Kiwak (2007) observe that Beethoven’s works are classical compositions that are classified into early, middle and late periods. The early period was characterized by the need to master the high classical music that were a favorite of the autocratic class from 1800 to 1892, with prince Kinsky, Prince Lobkowitz and Archduke Rudolp agreeing to pay him an yearly income if he stayed in Vienna to compose music.
During this period, Beethoven’s work evolved into the middle period to around 1813, where he developed and enhanced the high classical style leading to a dynamic and personalized style. Over the middle period, Beethoven composed the symphonies Nr. 3-8, piano concert Nr. 5 and chamber music that put him into the public limelight. However, that time range was also the beginning of Beethoven’s struggle with illnesses that finally led to his complete deafness, having discovered his unusual hearing levels earlier on. Additionally, this period characterized by Beethoven’s contemplation of suicide in an attempt to run away from the woes that life had presented to him. It was revealed letter to his brother, in 1802, called the Heiligenstadt Testament.
Beethoven’s personal life was greatly affected by the hearing disorder making him to handle social matters to a normal level. Thus, most of the time he was led by anger and mad temper with occasional insults to people. As observed by (Josephson &Kiwak, 2007), this problem may have contributed to his unusual interaction with women making it difficult for him to have any meaningful relationship with a woman. Like it is manifested by the departure of his long time girlfriend, Antoine Brentano, to whom he writes the letter, commonly known as immortal beloved; Beethoven became socially incompatible with so many people due to his deafness, which also affected his performance of music. Beethoven’s personal life is riddled by internal struggles where he wanted to get the custody of his nephew, even though the nephew did not like his unapproachable character.
The late period is marked by introverted and less dramatic music composition, although elements of maturity and security began to be evident, in this period. Though, during this period Beethoven gains a bit of economical control over his finances, he still could not afford to leave opulence life owing to the fact that his managers could not support him in collecting the funds. Thus, he later died in poverty, in 1827, having been inflicted with illnesses and blindness.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the author and composer of over 600 musical works, is arguably the most influential musician of the classical era. He was born in 1756, in Salzburg, Austria, 14 year before Beethoven’s birth. They lived almost during the same period. Mozart’s works is mostly acknowledged as pinnacles of operatic, symphonic, choral music and operatic. This makes him one of the most accomplished musical composers of the 19th century.
Mozart began his music career at the tender age of five, having mastered piano and performing for the European Royalty. He was a traveler who loved to explore better positions in his musical composition, at time settling in Vienna to compose most of his well-known music. Even though, Mozart enjoyed relative fame in his life, he never had financial security, which caused him to continue changing positions, probably, in search for better paying opportunities. Mozart died at the age of 35 when he had a wife and two sons.
Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Lives and Music Compared
Newman (2010) observes that the both composers were born in a musical family and their parents were musicians and, thus, followed example of their parents. Consequently, they became known classical music composers and built their fame from their unique composition. It is also clear that, the two composers led a life of poverty, which saw them travel to Vienna and other places, probably, to look for better paying positions. However, Vienna remained their favorite place of settlement, because they both died in the same place (Suchet, 2005). Additionally, the two composers influenced the latter musicians who marveled at their mastery of the artistic and iconic compositions that have continued to remain on top of classical music. Arguably, his works have influenced a good number of music composers who preceded Mozart, and one of them is Beethoven himself, who admittedly acknowledged Mozart’s musical prowess. In fact, Suchet (2005) observes that Beethoven admitted to his students that he could not match melodious mastery of Mozart’s Piano concerto 24, which itself was a movement of that time.
Beethoven composed some of his music as homage to Mozart through several themes, such as the two sets of Variations for Cello and Piano on themes from Mozart's Magic Flute. In retrospect, Mozart also acknowledged the works of Beethoven saying that he could give the world something new to talk about, which Beethoven later did through his compositions.
The two composers’ lives have been subjects of mythical discussion for many years. For instance, some people still argue that Mozart composed the Requiem for himself (Spaethling, 2005). As such, he remains an unusual figure among his admirers for being the subject of mythical and legendary stories that surround his life even in death. These myths and legends continue to be a subject of interest for screenwriters and dramatists who keep endeavoring to find excellent materials in these myths. For instance, an exceptionally popular case is the hypothetical rivalry between Mozart and Antonio Salieri. Estrella (2010) noted that this presupposition forms the foundation of plays, such as the Amadeus, written by Peter Shaffer. In most of these plays, Mozart is depicted as vulgar and loutish, although many people think this is far from the truth. Another comparison is the genre of music that the two composers produced. They both composed chamber music that was characterized by high classical sound. Their music brought them into the limelight.
Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart continue to be the subjects of study for music scholars, dramatist, and screen players. It is evident that they were accomplished classical era composers, whose marks in different genres of music remain indelibly in the history of music. Despite all these achievements, the two composers did not leave befitting lives. They enjoyed the admiration of the public.