Monthly Archives: April 2014

Mathias Haydn

Last week we took a look at Beethoven’s parents. This week, let’s look at Mathias Haydn, father to composer Franz Joseph, composer Johann Michael Haydn and tenor Johann Evangelist.

Mathias was born in 1699 in the small town of Hainburg. His father, Thomas, was a wheelwright and Mathias followed in his footsteps. After his apprenticeship, he left Hainburg and traveled as a journeyman for 10 years. It is during this time that Mathias took up the harp. He was self taught and could not read music but he had a great love for music and apparently a lovely tenor voice. In 1727, he returned and became a master wheelwright, joining the guild. The next year, he married Maria Koller. They settled in Rohrau in a house that Mathias had built himself.

Mathias and Maria both sang and included their children in learning those folk songs. The family performed small concerts for their village neighbours. At the age of six, Joseph was sent to Hainburg to start his studies in music with the blessing of his parents. In turn, his two brothers followed.

In 1741, Mathis became the Marktrichter (meaning market judge in German), what we might think of as a village mayor, though his duties far exceeded that as he was responsible for the conduct of the people, including ensuring that they went to church each week. He held this position until 1761.

In 1747, Maria died and Mathis remarried soon after. Mathis passed away in 1763 after an accident while working which resulted in several broken ribs. He lived long enough to see his children well on their way to successful careers!


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Maria van Beethoven

Maria Magdalena Keverich was the daughter of Heinrich Keverich, chief overseer of the kitchen at the palace of the Elector of Trèves at Ehrenbreitstein. Though her father in law viewed her as a chambermaid, in fact her family was well positioned and included court councillors and merchants.

At the age of 16, Maria married Johann Laym, valet to the Elector of Trèves. They had one son who did not survive infancy. Her husband also died within the first two years of their marriage and at 18, Maria was a widow.

Johann van Beethoven fell in love with the young Maria and they wed in 1767. Both families objected to the marriage. The reasons behind her family’s objections are unclear. From the van Beethoven side, the Kapellmeister, Johann’s father, made it clear that he thought they were beneath them in class standing. In actuality they were of the same class but Lodewijk felt that he was of a higher standing.

In July of 1787, Maria van Beethoven passed away. Johann had turned to alcohol more and more over the years and this is where much of his money went, leaving his family to try and survive on very little. A loving mother, she did what she could to make the best of a bad situation. Maria develop tuberculosis and did not survive.

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Johann and Lodewijk van Beethoven

Most everyone is familiar with the name Beethoven. Even if you don’t listen to his compositions, you have probably at least heard his name. But what about the family behind the man? We often don’t think about the family dynamics behind the great composers of the past, focusing on their music more so than the individual. Let’s take a brief look at his father and grandfather. Ludwig van Beethoven is the son of Johann and grandson of Lodewijk. He was named after his grandfather – Ludwig is the German equivalent of Lodewijk.

Lodewijk van Beethoven was born in January 1712 in Belgium, near Mechelen. He moved to Bonn, Germany at the age of 20 and died there in December 1773, about a week after his grandson turned 3 years old. Lodewijk was a well known musician in Bonn in his day – a source of pride for the younger Ludwig. He worked at the court of the Elector of Cologne Clemens August of Bavaria, starting as a bass singer and moving up to be appointed the Kapellmeister (music director) in 1761.

Lodewijk had one son, Johann. Johann was born in 1740 and spent his life in Bonn. He died in 1792. Also musically inclined, he joined the court of the Elector of Cologne in 1964 as a tenor. Johann played the violin, zither, and the keyboard instruments of the day, such as harpsichord and clavichord. He also taught harpsichord and clavichord.

When his son, Ludwig, showed an interest in music at a young age, Johann became his first teacher. Rumors abound that he was a strict teacher. He had dreams of creating another child prodigy like Mozart and stated Ludwig’s age to be six at his first concert when he was really seven. Ludwig went on to have many other teachers and as we know developed into an amazing musician. His father was an alcoholic and the family came to depend more and more on Ludwig for financial help. After the death of his wife, Johann declined even more. Two years later, Ludwig eventually gained the legal right to have half of Johann’s salary paid to him instead to aid in supporting his two younger brothers.

What a stressful position to be in as a young man. It is a family dynamic that continued for most of Ludwig’s life as he felt he needed to care for his siblings and their offspring – sometimes to the point of interference.

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The end of a season!

Tonight we close out our 42nd season with The Parker Quartet and Kikuei Ikeda, violist.

Our 42nd year has been another great season filled with old friends and new faces. Long term MTO performers the Gryphon Trio, the St. Lawrence Quartet, and Marc-André Hamelin all played with their usual brilliance. The Jerusalem Quartet, Arnaldo Cohen, the Miró Quartet, Eve Egoyan, the Alcan Quartet, David Jalbert, and the Arditti Quartet all delighted us with amazing return performances. Cohen, the Miró, and Jalbert also gave delightful master classes for us – fun and informative for the students onstage and the audience attending.

We were able to bring an octet to our stage again for the first time in several years and enjoyed some pieces that we don’t often hear live with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble. Our vocal recital for the season brought us Phillip Addis and his lovely baritone voice. And previously seen as a accompanist on our stage, pianist Stephanie Chua gave us a fabulous contemporary classics concert! Making his Toronto and MTO debut, pianist Benjamin Grosvenor charmed us on stage with his talent and off stage with his grace and intelligence at a chat with some students. Also debuting on our stage was violinist (and new father) Alexandre Da Costa. Accompanied by Wonny Song, as a last minute replacement, Da Costa gave us a stunning performance.

Tonight we shall enjoy the Parker Quartet and Kikuei Ikeda. Tomorrow brings our last master class for the season with Ikeda. We look forward to bringing you more great music again in the fall. Join us for our 43rd season!

Thursday, October 9, 2014 – St. Petersburg Quartet
Thursday, October 23, 2014 – Belcea Quartet
Tuesday, October 28, 2014 – Janina Fialkowska
Thursday, November 20, 2014 – Daedalus Quartet
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 – Simon Trpceski
Thursday, December 11, 2014 – Trio D’Argento with Barbara Croall
Thursday, January 8, 2015 – Juilliard Quartet
Tuesday, January 20, 2015 – Barbara Pritchard
Thursday, January 29, 2015 – St. Lawrence String Quartet
Thursday, February 12, 2015 – Bertoli-Marleyn Duo
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 – Denes Varjon
Thursday, February 26, 2015 – Gryphon Trio
Tuesday, March 10, 2015 – Till Fellner
Thursday, March 19, 2015 – Elias Quartet
Thursday, March 26, 2015 – Elliot Madore
Thursday, April 16, 2015 – Lafayette Quartet

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In order to continue presenting quality chamber music, fundraising is a necessity. We have a few different avenues to raise money including our yearly Scaramouche dinner and silent auction.

Located at One Benvenuto Place, Scaramouche offers a lovely view of the city to compliment their amazing food and service. Chef Keith Froggett has been with Scaramouche since 1983 and is one of the best in his field. Chef Keith and Carl Korte (co-owners), along with their amazing staff, treat us to an evening of stunning food and impeccable service each year. Having been to Scaramouche for just a “regular” evening out (there is nothing regular about an evening out there!), I know that the high quality of the food and service is the norm for them and not just something they do for our fundraiser. Going to Scaramouche is truly a magical evening out.

To read more about Chef Keith, I suggest checking out this article from The Grid from 2012.

We have been blessed to have such great partners in this yearly event and are looking forward to year number 26 this June! If you would like more information on our fundraiser, please contact Music Toronto at

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Wonny Song

Pianist Hélène Mercier is unable to accompany Alexandre Da Costa on Thursday night. Fortunately, Wonny Song was able to step in and will be playing the same program with Da Costa. Song is a regular collaborator with Da Costa and it is sure to be a great evening.

Song was born in South Korea and raised in Montreal. He started his piano studies at the age of 8 and graduated with a bachelor degree from Montreal University in 1998. Sing then studied with Anton Kuerti at the University of Toronto and Marc Durand at The Glenn Gould School. In 2004, he completed his doctoral studies at the University of Minnesota.

He has released several CDs and has participated in chamber music festivals in the U.S., Japan, and Canada including the Montreal Chamber Music Festival and the National Arts Centre Young Artist Festival. In addition to numerous solo recitals, he has appeared as a soloist with many orchestras world wide such as our own Toronto Symphony.

Teaching is also important for Song. He currently hold the position of Associate Director and Director of Artists-in-Residence project of Lambda School of Music and Fine Arts in Montreal.

We are grateful he is able to fill in on Thursday night and look forward to a great concert!

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