Printer-friendly version

Mozart vs. Beethoven

August 11, 2011 at 9:22 PM

 Today we will answer a very important question; a question that has plagued classical music scholars for centuries, I’m sure. The first person to actually ask me this question was not a learned professor or a talented colleague, it was my twin brother. Which was surprising at the time since his favorite musician was Weird Al Yankovic and his favorite instrument was his hand in his armpit. The question is this: in a no holds barred battle to the death, who would win-Beethoven or Mozart?

Initially, I was shocked that he knew the names of more than one classical composer and secondly, I was shocked that I had never considered this myself. The question, while slightly inane, does bring a certain humanity to historic figures that are often set upon pedestals as gods of composition. These high and lofty figures were mere mortals in their day with strengths and weaknesses. Besides, why shouldn’t we pit them against each other for our own amusement?


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Born: January 27, 1756

Lived In: Vienna, Austria

Composed: Nearly 1,000 works in just over 30 years including everything from simple piano songs to epic operas.  His most famous works include The Magic Flute, A minor Piano Sonataand his Requiem.

Fun Fact:  He was a very fashionable guy who always had the best clothes and wigs money could buy.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Born: December 16, 1770

Lived: Bonn, Germany

Composed: Just over 200 published pieces exist from his lifetime as well as dozen of unpublished sketches.  His most famous works include Piano Concerto No.5 (Emperor)Symphony No.5and the massiveSymphony N0. 9.

Fun Fact:  He started to loose his hearing at the age of 26.

When setting up this match, important things must be considered.  Location for one.  I would hold the fight in Vienna.  Mozart did travel all over Europe as a child prodigy but his favorite place was Vienna.  Likewise, Beethoven might have considered Bonn his home, but he did spend time in Vienna in his 20′s studying under the top composers and music theorists of the day.  Vienna would be the most neutral territory for the two.

Another consideration must be the referee.  We would need to have an individual that while respecting each composer’s talent did not have a definite bias one way or the other.  I would suggest bringing Hayden out of retirement to judge the match.  Hayden was a teacher to both and saw great potential in both composers.

Now, for the Battle Royale.

‘The bell rings and the composers approach each other.  Mozart, being the excitable little scrapper he is, throws the first punch using his impeccable counterpoint he mastered while still in puberty.  Beethoven is stumbles back, but this is nothing he hasn’t seen before.  He counters with a one-two punch using his ability to develop a theme and genius use of codas.  Mozart is shaken by this since it in no way follows the musical forms he himself had mastered.  He quickly retaliates with his innovative comic operas but it’s deflected by the strength of Beethoven’s symphonies. 1, 2, 3, 4…9! 9 punches right to the throat (He wrote 9 symphonies).  Beethoven thinks he’s won but while his back is turned, Mozart takes he out with the sheer prolific volume of his compositions.  Beethoven is down for the count.  As Hayden is counting, Beethoven struggles to get up.  I don’t believe this!  He’s standing again!  Mozart looks nervous.  He’s got nothing left to throw at his opponent.  Beethoven throws down Mozart using his pent up Daddy issues.  That’s right folks, he had to put his career on pause in his late 20′s to take care of his family because his father was a belligerent alcoholic.  There’s a lot of pain there folks.

I guess it doesn’t matter how much music you write, when it comes to a fight, he with the most issues wins and Beethoven had issues.  I won’t even get into his “Immortal Beloved.”

Facebook YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Anne Cole Violin Maker
Anne Cole Violin Maker

Metronaut Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine