Mozart or Beethoven?


Following on from Elena’s post about her enviable concert experiences, one thing that has always fascinated me is how different writers (and musicians) produce.

So are you a Beethoven or a Mozart?

Here’s Mozart’s manuscript for K. 617, Adagio and Rondo for glass harmonica, flute, oboe, viola, and cello.

The glass harmonica was an instrument that plays on the principle of running your finger around the top of a wine glass to produce a beautiful humming, otherworldly sort of sound. The Metropolitan Opera used a glass harmonica for the mad scene in their recent production of Lucia di Lammermoor–here’s an article from the NY Times about it. It’s usually played on the flute since they’re aren’t that many glass harmonicas around now–or people who know how to play them. This instrument was made in 1785.

But I digress. Here’s one of Beethoven’s scores.

The point I’m trying to make (yes, there is one) is that Mozart was notorious for composing in his head and then just writing it all down; or writing the music down after he’d improvised it at a concert. So his scores, although they have a certain messiness from writing fast, tend to be very clean. Whereas Beethoven used the delete key a lot, scribbling out and, although you can’t see this here, digging his nib into the paper with splattery results–all sturm und drang.

So for the writers among us, who’s a Beethoven and who’s a Mozart?

And for everyone, did you hear the Met broadcast of Lucia? (I missed it, to my great annoyance.) And what’s your favorite instrument?

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