Beethoven had a seemingly troubled relationship with Haydn. He had travelled to Vienna to study with the great master after they’d met in Beethoven’s native Bonn when Haydn was toing-and-froing to London.
It never really worked: Haydn was too busy with his own commissions to pay sufficient attention to his brilliantly talented, but admittedly difficult, pupil. Beethoven was reduced to taking covert lessons elsewhere to enhance the perceived gaps in his technique.
But Beethoven’s claim that he “never learned anything from Haydn” is given the lie by his first two symphonies – while he may not have learned much from Haydn the teacher, he certainly learned a lot from Haydn the symphonist.
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