Mozart and Beethoven: A Comparison of Lives and Music
In 1747 Leopold Mozart married Maria Anna Pertl. Leopold and Maria Anna would have seven children, two of who would survive. Maria Anna born in 1752 who the family called Nannerl . Then in 1756 Wolfgang Amadeus who was nicknamed Wolfgangerl. Wolfgang Amadeus was not his original birth name it was shortened to this from Joannes Chrisostomos Wolfgangus Gottlieb. It is little wonder even two of the children survived; “Given Leopolds insistence that they be brought up on a diet of water and gruel, the wonder is that any survived at all.” (Siepmann, Mozart His life and Music) Leopold Mozart was very musical himself and was a skilled violinist, composer and an author. He wrote a well received publication on the art of playing the violin.
He began teaching Nannerl music when Mozart was 3 years old. Mozart would play after his sister’s lessons were finished and by the time he was four he could play pieces from memory. By the time Mozart was five years old he made his first debut at Salzburg University. Shortly following this debut Mozart and Nannerl would begin touring with their father.
In 1762 the two children went to Munich to play for Elector Maximillian III and then to play in the royal court of Vienna. Wolfgang contracted scarlet fever while in Vienna and his father was noted at saying “This affair has cost me fifty ducats at least” (Siepmann, Mozart His life and Music) Wolfgang suffered a phobia of trumpets, when he was ten years old his father sought to cure young Wolfgang of this affliction by having Johann Schachtner blow one in his direction, Wolgang collapsed in fear.
From 1763 to 1766 Leopold took his children on an extensive European tour starting in Salzburg and visiting 25 cities, including Paris, London, and Munich. I would imagine that this would be no easy undertaking for 2 small children in 1763 with just the traveling, add the many performances and I would think it exhausting for an adult.
I think we may have a clear picture of Leopold as a parent. I think that some of his documented behavior and statements make it appear as though his extremely talented children were mere commodities.
Ludwig Von Beethoven was born in December 1770, in Germany or at least close to that date there seems to be a bit of controversy with the actual date. His father Johann Beethoven was a court musician and singer. He recognized Ludwig’s talent and potential early and thought he may have another Mozart in his son. He thought to capitalize on his son’s talent and made the young child practice relentlessly. “Beethoven paid heavily for his father’s ambitions. More than one visitor to the house saw the little boy weeping as he practiced. Repeatedly he was locked in the cellar and/or deprived of food” (Siepmann, Beethoven His Life & Music)It was also noted that Johann Beethoven drank excessively and not to have been an easy father leaving the children in the care of serving maids....