The paths of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart first crossed at a benefit concert for musicians in December 1783, where the works of both composers were on the programme. Documents from the period show that they admired each other, and that the two men would soon develop a close friendship.
Two of Haydn’s London symphonies are on the programme, from a series of twelve symphonies that he had written on the occasion of two visits to London between 1791 and 1795. It was probably during the premiere of his Symphony No. 102 that a chandelier fell from the ceiling, and it was only by a miracle that no one was injured. But this accident has mistakenly been told of the performance of Symphony No. 96, as a result of which the work came to be called the ‘Miracle’. The two works are linked not only by this anecdote, but also by their ultimate artistic quality – the London symphonies embody the apex of Haydn’s orchestral output.
Mozart wrote his Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-Flat Major, often called “Jeunehomme”, in 1777, in honour of the talented pianist Madame Jenové. The concerto requires an expert approach: the gallant style, with singing melodies and other apparently simple finesses, lays bare any weakness in technique or sensitivity of the pianist. Grande dame Elisabeth Leonskaja performs this concerto, according to Bachtrack, ‘as if she is in the middle of a pleasant but important conversation with the notes, the audience, the orchestra, even with Mozart.’
Flagey, Brussels Philharmonic