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Beethoven: Sparks of Joy — Mozart’s birthday; Beethoven’s regard for him

Beethoven: Sparks of Joy — Mozart’s birthday; Beethoven’s regard for him

Mozart’s birthday; Beethoven’s regard for him.

Notes by Margaret Scialdone. ~ As January 27th is the 265th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  we’ll step away from the sonatas for a few days and allow Beethoven to pay homage to his great predecessor. The teenaged Beethoven first went to Vienna in 1787, and it’s believed that he met with Mozart who agreed to take him on as a pupil. However, Beethoven immediately received news that his mother was critically ill, so he returned to Bonn after five days. When he finally came back to Vienna in 1792, Mozart had already died, at the age of 35. Beethoven then took up lessons from Haydn, which were unsatisfactory because Haydn was busy with concert tours, so he ended up studying counterpoint with Albrechtsburger and composition with Saliieri.

Beethoven had obviously studied every note Mozart had ever written, and his sketchbooks and compositions are full of Mozartean references. However, we’ll concentrate right now on one of Beethoven’s favorite genres – variations – composed on themes from Mozart’s operas.
In “The Marriage of Figaro”, the Figaro, who’s about to get married, learns that the count whom he serves intends to exercise the “Lord’s right” – to sleep with the bride on her wedding night. Furious, he announces in the aria “Se vuol ballare” his determination to thwart the Count’s plan.

Here you will find Mozart’s aria is sung by Erwin Schrott, and Beethoven’s variations, WoO 40, are performed by Jiyoung Park and Hue-am Park.

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