Beethoven: Letters, Journals and Conversations

By Michael Hamburger ; Michael Hamburger et al. | Go to book overview
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Beethoven, who as a very promising young man came to Vienna in the spring of 1787, but had to return home (to Bonn) after a brief stay, was taken to see Mozart, who asked him to play something. Mozart, thinking that he was listening to some studied show-piece, praised it rather coolly. Beethoven, who noticed this, asked Mozart for a theme suitable for improvised variations. As he always played excellently when excited and, at this moment, was also inspired by the presence of a master whom he respected greatly, Beethoven began to perform upon the piano in such a manner that Mozart, whose attention increased to the point of fascination, at last went quietly to his friends sitting in the next room and said emphatically: "Keep your eyes on that fellow; one day he'll give the world something to talk about."


Bonn, Autumn, 1787

Noble and most esteemed friend,

I can easily imagine what you are thinking of me; and I cannot deny that you have good grounds for not thinking favourably of me; yet I shall not attempt to excuse myself till I have pointed out my reasons for hoping that my excuses will be accepted. I must confess to you that ever since the time when I left Augsburg my good spirits and, with them, my health began to decline. The nearer I came to my native city, the more letters I received from my father, asking me to travel faster than usual, as my mother was not in a good state of health; I therefore hurried on as fast I could, though far from well myself. The desire to be able to see my sick mother in time helped me to overcome every obstacle and to endure the


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