Lost memoir: Haydn told me, ‘I am but a child compared to Mozart’

Lost memoir: Haydn told me, ‘I am but a child compared to Mozart’


norman lebrecht

June 20, 2014

Our friend Michael Lorenz has come up with another Mozart gem – the memoir of a Scottish-Polish musician, Ludwig-William Ferguson-Tepper, who visited Haydn twice in Esterhazy and Vienna.

When I told him what I thought of his compositions and described to him the real enthusiasm they caused everywhere, he replied: “Ah! Sir: we have someone in Vienna who will crush us all; he is a universal genius, compared to whom I am a child.” He spoke of Mozart, who at that time was still alive…


Read more here (English and Francais).

hadyn in storm

pictured: Haydn in storm (Lebrecht Music&Arts)




  • Ludwig Ferguson

    That’s a great name.

  • Haydn could afford his compliments: by the time Mozart’s reputation was an upcoming one, Haydn’s position – both aesthetically and financially – was secure. Yet, how nice it is to read one composer being positive about a collegue… such a rare phenomenon! Mozart had great admiration for Haydn’s music and emulated it in his six ‘Haydn Quartets’. It seems that Haydn and Johann Christian Bach were the only other living composers about whom Mozart had something positive to say; in his letters (and apparantly also in his conversations) he was, on the whole, devastatingly critical about other composers and probably rightly so.

    In this context is interesting to observe that Beethoven, who thoroughly studied Mozart’s and Haydn’s works, had almost nothing to say about his great forerunner, while he did his very best to out-do Mozart, whose works got very famous during B’s lifetime. Mozart was B’s ‘posthumous’ competition about whom he mostly kept a careful silence.