1st Viennese School?

Mugshots of some of the most famous musicians to grace our planet.

Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and (sometimes) Schubert are frequently lumped together under the blanket heading of the First Viennese School. But, unlike the Second Viennese School (Schönberg, Berg and Webern – of whom more next week), in the case of these four mostly Vienna based composers, the use of the term ‘school’ seems slightly inappropriate.

The only teacher/pupil pair in this quadrumvirate is Haydn and Beethoven; and even that seems to have been a somewhat troubled relationship, with the pupil omitting his famous teacher’s name from the cover of his opus 1 set of 3 piano trios (Haydn had, it seems, suggested – with, more than likely, benign intent (thinking that it would boost sales) – that Beethoven included the phrase ‘pupil of Josef Haydn’ on the front of this first opus: the work was published with a dedication to Prince Lichnowsky but with no mention of Haydn!).

As for the others, Mozart and Haydn were friends  but Mozart was never a student of Haydn’s and Schubert’s sometime inclusion in the group is simply based on his proximity in location and time to the others (Mozart had been dead for six years when he was born and he was twelve when Haydn died).

Here is the last trio of Beethoven’s Opus 1: it was the composer’s favourite; Haydn had serious reservations about it…

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