Bach, Mozart and the “Musical Midwife.”

A very interesting article which explores the influence of Bach’s music on Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, especially The Well tempered Clavier.


The sun was shining on Vienna, this Sunday morning in 1782. As the clock on the church tower was approaching 10:00, the 26-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was briskly walking towards the Royal Library, to the residence of Baron van Swieten, the former representative of the court of Vienna in Berlin, now, the chief librarian. He was whistling a theme from the manuscript he held in one hand, a manuscript he had just finished a few minutes before. With his other hand, he was carrying his viola.

The small group of the most promising young musicians in Vienna, whom the Baron invited to his house every Sunday, had now arrived. Mozart placed one of his newly dried manuscript copies on each of the four wooden music stands placed in a semi-circle in front of the marble fireplace. The Baron sat down in his comfortable chair nearby. Mozart, with a twinkle in his eye, unpacked his viola, and he and three of the other young musicians sat down in front of the music stands.

To continue the year 2000 commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the death of Bach (1685-1750), and to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Bach’s Well- Tempered Clavier, this article concerning Mozart, and a projected future article on Robert and Clara Schumann, will present evidence of the degree to which these composers who lived after Bach, intensively studied and “re-composed” his works as pedagogical exercises, to deepen their knowledge of polyphony and counterpoint, and then directly made use of Bach’s compositional method in composing new works. This evidence will be presented through the words of these composers, and through several of their musical works, not widely known today.

Read on….