Coffee and classical music have a lot of obvious similarities. They can be smooth at times, robust at others. There are connoisseurs of each and some of both. You might even listen to classical music while enjoying a latte or café au lait.
There are, however, other connections between these two worlds that may not be as well known, but are certainly more fascinating. Here are some our favorites.
Bach wrote a Coffee Cantata: J.S. Bach often held concerts at his favorite coffee house in Leipzig, “Zimmerman’s Coffee House”. During this time, he wrote a mini comic opera or dramma per musica called Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (Be still, stop chattering) featuring a character addicted to coffee. It has come to be known as the Coffee Cantata.
Beethoven was a coffee fiend: Beethoven started each day by drinking a cup of coffee brewed using exactly 60 coffee beans. Why 60? Some people who have studied the man theorize that Beethoven believed this to be the number required for the perfect cup of coffee. For reference, a cup of modern coffee contains 10 beans or less. Beethoven certainly enjoyed his joe on the much stronger side.
Glenn Gould drank gallons: Glenn Gould was more than just one of the most celebrated classical pianists of the 20th century. The Canadian was also a bit of an eccentric described as drinking “gallons of coffee”. Of course that could be because he enjoyed a “very nocturnal sort of existence” scheduling many of his errands at the latest hour possible – a lifestyle he described in a 1979 television documentary.
Mozart preferred his coffee black: About two months before he died, Mozart wrote to his wife about playing billiards after which he ordered black coffee and smoked a “wonderful pipe of tobacco”. Coffee even makes an appearance in Don Giovanni.
There’s a classical music themed coffeehouse in Portland, Oregon: The Rimsky-Korsakoffee House in Portland is a classical-music themed cafe in an old Craftsman-style house. One of the city’s first coffeehouses, it serves coffee and desserts and has hosted classical music events. Learn more about it on Wikipedia.
Rossini noticed that coffee’s effects wore off after constant use: A lover of many foods, Gioacchino Rossini was quoted as saying, “Coffee is a matter of fifteen or twenty days: luckily the time to make an opera”.
Many Viennese cafes frequented by famous composers are still standing: Café Landtmann, for example was established in 1873 and was a hangout for Gustav Mahler. Anton Bruckner frequented Hotel Imperial. Mozart reportedly liked Cafe Frauenhuber. Cafe Dommayer was the site of Johann Strauss Jr.’s first performance where he and his orchestra were an instant hit.