In 1781 Beethoven was invited to Holland. his father could not go but it was an opportunity not to be missed and he let him go with his mother. Like Mozart, Beethoven would tour as a "child prodigy". They arrived in Rotterdam in autumn 1781. Travelling down the Rhine, it was so cold that his mother had to frequently rub his feet to avoid frostbite. Beethoven gave only a few performances in private houses. He obviously was not yet the child prodigy his parents wished him to be.
In 1787 Beethoven travelled to Vienna. This was the turning point in his career. He spent several weeks organising his future life during which time it is supposed he met Mozart, who would later be his teacher. Mozart asked Ludwig to play something for him, but thinking that the piece had been rehearsed beforehand Mozart was not particularly impressed. When Beethoven realised this, he asked Mozart to suggest a theme on which he might improvise.
This time the young pianist of sixteen did indeed impress the genius from Salzburg. Mozart went to an adjoining room where some friends were listening: "Take note", he said, "one day the whole world will be talking about him". Some biographers suggest that Mozart taught Beethoven composition; others disagree. There is as yet no conclusive proof for either theory.
Beethoven had to leave Vienna shortly after his arrival there. His mother had died and he had to return to Bonn. But he was back to Vienna again in 1792, receiving instruction from Haydn. From this point on, the city really became his home.
Haydin's fees for these lessons were symbolic as he was anxious to help Beethoven. Haydn got him lodgings in the attic of the home of Prince Lichnowsky hoping that a good relationship might develop, which is in fact what happened. Within a short time Beethoven was a guest of honour in the prince's house with rooms, servants and a carriage at his disposal.
In the early years in Vienna, Beethoven was known more as a performer than a composer, and he used to take part in competitions with other pianists. In 1796 he went on tour to Prague and Berlin, performing the first three parts of his "Mass" and the first six parts of Psalm 191.