Mozart spent much of his youth touring Europe with his family. He would often give performances with his sister Nannerl for the royal crowd.
When Wolfgang was just eight years old, the family visited London for the first time. There, Wolfgang met J.S. Bach’s youngest son, Johann Christian Bach, the man pictured above, who was then a gifted and famous musician in his late twenties. “John Bach” (he lived in England for the final two decades of his life) was born when his father was fifty years old. He sometimes referred to his father as “the old wig.”
By all accounts, Mozart and J.C. were equally delighted to find an equal to play with. And play they did! At one event attended by the King and Queen of England, Mozart sat between Bach’s knees at the keyboard, and they improvised a piece in which they would take turns playing, much like the game in which a story is told by each person making up a sentence in turn. The piece went on for over two hours! An observer later recalled: “…each led the other into very abstruse harmonies and extraneous modulations, in which the child beat the man!”