The celebrated Austrian composer Joseph Haydn is most famous for his string quartets – a genre of chamber music that became very popular from the 1750’s to 1770’s. According to “The Treasures of Mozart”, two of his works in particular greatly captivated both Mozart and Beethoven: Opus 20 and Opus 33.
Chamber music is comprised of such genres as the string quartet and piano trio, and it is a more intimate form of music that Mozart greatly enjoyed. Mozart himself composed six string quartets over a three-year period.
Some of these quartets were heard by Haydn during a private performance that Mozart gave in Vienna in 1785. Mozart’s father, Leopold, was at this exact performance. According to him, Haydn made the following statement about Mozart’s work: “I swear to you before God, and in all honesty, that your son is the greatest composer I know, whether by name or reputation. He has taste, and moreover, a most profound understanding of composition.”
When Mozart actually published his pieces later that year, he dedicated all six to Haydn and signed them as Haydn’s “most Sincere Friend W.A. Mozart”.
It is interesting to look at the evidence of how much work Mozart actually put into these quartets. He referred to them as his “children”, and historians have noted that the watermarks in the paper and the amount of reworked or crossed-out passages show how much labour Mozart put into them. It is clear Mozart saw great value in the quartet, which is also further explanation of why he admired its master – Haydn.
Source: The Treasures of Mozart
Photo credited to: Google Images