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was not long before he discovered his irreparable mistake. The partner
he had taken for life was a vixen, foul-mouthed, quarrelsome, a bigot
in religion, reckless in extravagance, utterly unappreciative of her
husband's genius, and, as he complained, "did not care whether he was
an artist or a cobbler," as long as he could supply her with money. She
bickered with him constantly, insulted him for his inability to clothe her
expensively, refused to know his friends, and acted like the virago that
she was on the slightest provocation. Naturally genial and affectionate,
and peculiarly fitted for a happy domestic life by his peaceful and
amiable temperament, it is not surprising that he soon wearied of the
woman who made existence a torture to him. No children came to soften
the asperities of this ill-assorted union, and if Haydn turned from it
to find the happiness and the comfort that were resolutely denied him at
his own fireside, and at last became addicted to gallantry, excuse if not
pardon may be accorded him. They lived apart during the greater portion
of their married life, but were not formally separated until thirty-two
years later. She passed the last years of her life at Baden, near Vienna,
preceding her husband to the grave by nine years.


From an India proof of an engraving by J. Thompson of drawing by
Hammerton. Presented to the publisher for Surmon's Exeter Hall edition of
"The Creation" by the Chevalier Neukomm.]

It was not long after this marriage that the good Count Morzin found
himself unable to maintain his orchestra longer, and therefore he was
compelled to dismiss it and its conductor. Haydn was thus thrown on his
own resources again, but not for long. By this time he had made a name for
himself, and fortunately Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy had been a frequent
visitor at Count Morzin's and heard much of Haydn's music there. It had
impressed him greatly by its originality and its spirit. On the breaking
up of the orchestra the Prince at once engaged Haydn as his second
Capellmeister, and in May, 1761, when he was twenty-nine years old, he
went to Eisenstadt in Hungary, where was the country seat of the richest
and most liberal of the Austrian nobles. There Haydn's wandering ended,
for in service of this family he was fated to remain for the rest of his

The Esterhazy family was distinguished for its love of music, and the
first Prince Paul, who died nearly fifty years before Haydn entered
on his long connection with this house, founded a private chapel, the
performers in which were increased in number from time to time. There were
a chorus, solo singers, and an orchestra, and they participated not only
in the church services, but in concerts and eventually in operas. When
Haydn joined the orchestra it consisted of only sixteen musicians, but
they were all excellent artists, and the precision and finish of their
playing surpassed anything of the kind that Haydn had previously heard.
He was now free to exercise his musical invention in any direction that
he saw fit to choose. The orchestra was at his call on any day and at any
hour, and he was thus enabled to experiment with it, and as he himself
said, "to observe what was good and what was weak in effect, and was
consequently in a position to better, to change, to amplify, to curtail"
his music according as a hearing of it suggested. He was now free from all
care, cut off from the outer world, and able to give full play to the art
aspirations that were in him.

With all this independence on one side, on the other he was in a position
not much higher than that of an upper servant. The agreement between
Haydn and the Prince is still in existence, and some of its stipulations
are so curiously humiliating that they are worth reproducing here. It is
impressed on Haydn that he must be temperate; must abstain from vulgarity
in eating and drinking and conversation; must take care of all the music
and the musical instruments, and be answerable for any injury they may
suffer from carelessness or neglect; that as he is an expert on various
instruments, he shall take care to practice on all that he is acquainted
with; that when summoned to perform before company he shall take care that
he and all members of his orchestra do follow the instructions given and
appear in white stockings, white linen, powder, and with either a pig-tail
or a tie-wig. For pay, a salary of four hundred florins, to be received
quarterly "is hereby _bestowed_ upon the said Vice-Capellmeister by his
Serene Highness." In addition, Haydn is permitted to have board at the
officers' table, or half a gulden a day in lieu thereof. The whole tone
of the contract places the composer in the light of a menial. It is by no
means likely that it was made intentionally offensive, and, in fact, it
is doubtful if Haydn found it so. In Germany at that time, the musician
was not highly considered socially, and the composer was far less esteemed
than were the virtuoso of eminence and the vocalist of superior abilities.
We read of musicians, in the establishments of some of these princely
patrons, who, when they were not needed to play to entertain the guests,
were expected to wait on table or to assist in the kitchen.


From a photograph.]

The chief Capellmeister, and nominally the head of the orchestra, was
Gregorius Josephus Werner, an industrious musician, of whose compositions
nothing has come down to us, and of which nothing deserved to come down.
He was now old, and was to all intents and purposes replaced by Haydn,
whose revolutionary ideas and innovations generally must have greatly
disturbed the calm of his prim, formal, and pedagogic chief, who, in fact,
rarely spoke of him except as "a mere fop" and "a song scribbler." Haydn,
on the contrary, always expressed a warm respect for the old musician,
who lived for five years under the new order of things and then ceased to
repine, in death. But Prince Paul Anton died four years earlier, in fact
before Haydn had been in his service for quite a year, and was succeeded
by his brother Prince Nicolaus, the "great Esterhazy," famous for the
lavishness with which he displayed his wealth and for the enthusiasm of
his love for and patronage of the fine arts.

Under Prince Nicolaus a new order of things began, and his generosity was
at once illustrated. The salaries of all the musicians were increased,
Haydn's four hundred florins being increased to six hundred and shortly
after to seven hundred and eighty-two, or about three hundred and ninety
dollars of our money. The force of the Capelle was enlarged to seven
singers and fourteen instrumentalists, and rehearsals took place every
day. By this time, a knowledge of Haydn's music existed outside his own
country, and his works were beginning to be known in London, Paris, and
Amsterdam, and five years after he had been at Eisenstadt, the official
journal of Vienna, the _Wiener Diarium_, alludes to him as "der Liebling
unserer Nation." His industry was unrelaxing, for he had already composed,
under the Esterhazys, some thirty symphonies and cassations, several
divertimenti in five parts, six string trios, a concerto for French horn,
twelve minuets for orchestra, besides concertos, trios, sonatas and
variations for the clavier. His vocal compositions were a Salve Regina
for soprano and alto, two violins and organ; a Te Deum; four Italian
operettas; a pastoral, "Acis and Galatea," written for the marriage of
Count Anton, eldest son of Prince Nicolaus; and a cantata in honor of
the Prince's return from the coronation of Archduke Joseph as king of
the Romans. In none of these works did Haydn rise to any high power. The
greater Haydn was yet to develop.

To go through, in detail, his life at Eisenstadt would be only to repeat
what has been already said, and to give a catalogue of his compositions
in the order in which they were written. We shall therefore pass in rapid
view the events of his career and leave a consideration of his works until
we reach the point when it becomes necessary to estimate the musician
rather than the man. It may, perhaps, be interesting to describe Haydn as
he appeared personally to his contemporaries. He wore a uniform of light
blue and silver, knee breeches, white stockings, lace ruffles and white
neckcloth. His biographer, Dies, states: "Haydn was below the middle
height, and his legs were somewhat too short for his body, a defect which
was made more noticeable because of the style of attire he affected and
which he obstinately declined to change as the fashions changed. His
features were regular, his expression was spirited and at the same time
temperate, amiable and winning. His face was stern when in repose, but
smiling and cheerful when he conversed. I never heard him laugh. In build
he was firm; he was lacking in muscle." He had a prominent aquiline
nose disfigured by a polypus which he refused to have removed, and he
was heavily pitted by small pox. His complexion was dark, so dark, in
fact, that he was playfully called "The Moor." His jaw was heavy and his
under-lip was large and hanging. Lavater described the eyes and nose of
Haydn as something out of the common; his brow noble and good, but his
mouth and chin "Philistine." Haydn's own opinion was that he was ugly, and
he took pleasure in reflecting that it surely was not for his personal
beauty that so many women were attracted to him. That he tried to make
himself attractive to the opposite sex by extreme neatness of attire,
suavity of manner, and flattery, in which he was an adept, is certain;
and that he never lacked for warm admiration and even devoted love from
women is no less well-established. He was very fond of fun, even that
which was not wholly refined, and a predilection for rough practical
joking abided with him to the last. He was sincere and unaffected in his
piety and looked upon his talent as a gift from God, to be used dutifully
in His service. It was seldom that he began to pen a composition without
writing at its head, _In Nomine Domini_, and at its end, _Laus Deo_. Now
and then he merely used the initials L.D., or S.D.G. (_Soli Deo Gloria_)
and sometimes he wrote B.V.M. (_Beatæ Virgini Mariæ_). This custom was
retained not only in his works for the church, but in those for the
orchestra and even for the stage; and the most elaborate dedication of all
is that to his opera "L'Infidelità Delusa," which he closes with _Laus
omnipotenti Deo et Beatissimæ Virgini Mariæ_.

Haydn's life at Eisenstadt, as it was at Esterhaz, to which Prince
Nicolaus and his household removed in 1766, was one of almost complete
seclusion from the outer world and of unflagging work. The quantity of
music he wrote was enormous and the rapidity with which he poured it forth
was astonishing. At Esterhaz he was obliged to provide for two operatic
performances and for one or two formal concerts each week, in addition
to the daily music. It was here that Haydn wrote nearly all his operas,
the greater number of his arias and songs, and the bulk of his orchestral
and chamber music. The vast quantity of music he wrote and the rapidity
with which he produced it has given rise to the belief that he composed
quickly; but such was not the case. His work was always carefully thought
out, and whenever an idea occurred to him that he thought of musical value
and worth elaborating, he pondered long over it and only began to write it
out finally after he was, as he said, "fully convinced that it was as it
should be." He was now in receipt of a salary of one thousand florins, or
about five hundred dollars, and it is stated that he nearly doubled this
by the sale of his compositions. His operas, of which he was specially
fond, brought him the least profit. The extravagance of his wife, however,
kept him constantly embarrassed in his money affairs, and an attachment he
formed for one of the singers in the chapel, Luigia Polzelli, did not mend


Probably suggested by the miniature portrait]

For the rest, the story of Haydn's life is little else than a catalogue
of his works. From 1766, the year in which he became, by the death of
Werner, the head of the Esterhazy Capelle, to 1790, the year of his first
visit to London, nearly a quarter of a century, was the most fruitful
period of his musical career. His greatest works, however, were yet to be
written. Though he was already famous, he was not permitted to hold his
position unassailed, and many and violent were the attacks upon him for
his innovations and his disdain for pedagogic rules, by the critics of the
older and more conservative school. Honors, nevertheless, began to pour in
on him. The Philharmonic Society of Modena elected him a member in 1780.
In 1784, Prince Henry of Prussia sent him a gold medal and his portrait in
return for six quartets dedicated to him. In 1787, King Frederick William
II. gave him a diamond ring as a recognition of his merit as a composer.
In the meanwhile, in 1785, he received a commission to compose the "Seven
Last Words of Christ" for the Cathedral of Cadiz, a fact which evidences
how far his reputation had travelled from the solitude of Esterhaz. In the
period named, he had written eight masses including the famous "Mariazell"
mass in C, and the great "Cecilia" mass, the largest and most difficult of
all his works in this kind, and now only performed in a condensed form.
Within the same period he wrote sixty-three symphonies, most of which are
in his earlier style, though a steady progress is shown toward the master
symphonies he wrote for the London concerts.

During his residence at Esterhaz he wrote over forty quartets, and
these were, up to the time of his departure for London, his greatest
achievements. It was in these that he became the originator of modern
chamber music and led the way to both Mozart and Beethoven. His clavier
music still was under the influence of Emanuel Bach, though the
twenty-eight sonatas that belong to this period, in freedom, melody
and clearness are far in advance of anything that had been previously
achieved. Seventeen clavier trios are also the product of this period and
are still full of charm. He did not begin to write songs until he was
nearly fifty years old, and the twenty-four he composed at Esterhaz were
by no means of marked value. His part-songs were of a better order, but
his canons were best of all, and may be still heard with pleasure.

It was during his stay at Esterhaz that his friendship for Mozart
developed; and never was one great genius more cordially or sincerely
admired by another than was Mozart by Haydn; and so frank was his
recognition of the younger composer's worth, that he was fond of declaring
that he never heard one of Mozart's compositions without learning
something from it. He pronounced Mozart "the greatest composer in the
world," and affirmed that if he had written nothing but his violin
quartets and the "Requiem" he would have done enough to insure his
immortality. The personal friendship between the two masters was a tender
one and like that of father and son. On the eve of Haydn's departure for
London Mozart was deeply moved and lamented their separation. With tears
in his eyes he said to Haydn, "We shall never see each other again on
earth," a prophecy that was only too literally fulfilled. When Haydn, then
in London, heard of Mozart's death he grieved over it bitterly and with
tears, and he wrote to a friend that his joy of returning home would be
gloomy because he should not be greeted by the great Mozart.

It was in 1787 that Haydn received an urgent invitation from Cramer, the
violinist, to visit London, but without any favorable results. Salomon
took more practical measures, and in 1789 sent Bland, the music publisher,
to try what personal persuasion could effect. It achieved nothing at this
time, and Bland was obliged to return and to inform Salomon of the failure
of the scheme. Haydn would not leave his "well-beloved Prince," but
"wished to live and die with him." In a favorable hour for musical art,
Prince Nicolaus died after a brief illness, in 1790. Haydn was in despair
and mourned him devotedly. The Prince testified to his appreciation of the
faithful services of his devoted Capellmeister by leaving him an annual
pension of one thousand florins, on the condition that he consented to
retain the title of Capellmeister to the Esterhazys. The Prince must have
known that the Capelle would be dismissed by Prince Anton, his successor,
whose taste for music was very slight. He discharged all the musicians
except the wind band, which was retained to perform at banquets and
other ceremonials. Prince Anton nevertheless was not unkind to those he
dismissed, for he gave them gratuities and added four hundred florins to
the pension of Haydn.

From this moment, Haydn was for the first time his own master, free to
go whither he would. His fame, which was world-wide, assured him a warm
welcome, no heed in what capital he might take up his residence, and his
pensions and his savings secured him from all fear for the comfort of his
declining years. He was now fifty-eight years of age. He took up his abode
in Vienna and soon received an invitation to become Capellmeister to Count
Grassalcovics. This he declined; but one day shortly after, he received
a visit from a stranger who announced himself as Salomon of London, and
was determined to take Haydn there will he nil he. Haydn resisted for
a time, but at last all was arranged favorably to Salomon, who, by the
way, was a famous violinist and conductor who was the projector of some
prominent London subscription concerts. The terms which were agreed upon
were as follows: Haydn was to have for one season: £300 for an opera for
Gallini, the owner and manager of the King's Theatre in Drury Lane; £300
for six symphonies and £200 additional for the copyright of them; £200
for twenty new compositions to be produced by Haydn at a like number of
concerts, and £200 guaranteed as the proceeds of a benefit concert for
him, £1,200 in all, or 12,000 florins. His travelling expenses were paid
by himself with the assistance of a loan of 450 florins from the Prince.
He left Vienna with Salomon on the 15th of December, 1790, and arrived
on English soil on the 1st of January, 1791. His reception in London was
enthusiastic. Noblemen and ambassadors called on him; he was overwhelmed
with invitations from the highest society and distinguished artists
hastened to pay him homage. The musical societies fought for his presence
at their performances, his symphonies and quartets were played, his
cantata "Ariadne à Naxos" was sung by the celebrated Pachierotto and the
newspapers vied with each other in honoring him.

The first of his six symphonies composed for Salomon was played March
11, 1791, at the Hanover Square Rooms, the composer conducting it at the
pianoforte. The orchestra, led by Salomon, consisted of nearly forty
performers. The work was received with a storm of applause and the Adagio
was encored, - a rare event in that day. The other symphonies were no less
successful, and were the finest works in their kind that Haydn had written
up to that time. His benefit, which took place in May, was guaranteed to
net him £200 but it produced for him £350. He was fêted constantly and
enthusiasm attended him wherever he went. Oxford conferred on him the
honorary degree of Doctor of Music during the Oxford Commemoration, an
important feature of which was three concerts. At the second of these,
Haydn's "Oxford" symphony was performed, Haydn giving the tempi at the
organ. At the third concert he appeared in his Doctor's gown amid the
wildest plaudits. He was the guest of the Prince of Wales for three days,
and at a concert given all the music was of Haydn's composition, and the
Prince of Wales played the 'cello. In the meantime Salomon made a new
contract with him which prevented him from complying with a recall from
Prince Esterhazy, to give his services in a grand fête for the Emperor. He
gave many lessons at his own price. Among his pupils was the widow of the
Queen's music master, Mrs. Schroeder. Haydn's susceptibilities were again
touched, and though his pupil was over sixty, he said afterward: "Had I
been free I certainly should have married her." To her he dedicated three
clavier trios. He quitted London in June, 1792, and when he reached Bonn,
Beethoven called on him for his opinion of a cantata. At Frankfort Haydn
met Prince Anton at the coronation of the Emperor Francis II. At last he
reached Vienna, where he was welcomed with wild enthusiasm and there was
the greatest eagerness to hear his great London symphonies. Did Haydn at
this triumphant moment recall the homeless young man who wandered through
the streets of the city on a November evening forty-three years ago,
penniless and despairing, and hopeless regarding his future prospects?

[Illustration: JOSEPH HAYDN.

From a miniature painted on ivory about 1785 to 1790, shortly before his
visit to London.

Among the friends who tried to dissuade him from making this journey was
Mozart, who said to him: "Papa, you have not been brought up for the great
world; you know too few languages." Haydn replied: "But my language is
understood by the whole world."]

At the end of this year Beethoven went to Haydn for instruction, and
the lessons continued until Haydn's second departure for London. The
connection between these two geniuses was not a happy one. There can
be no doubt that Haydn neglected his pupil. In fact, in the midst of
his social triumphs and at the height of his fame, giving lessons in
counterpoint could not have had much attraction for him; moreover the
twenty cents an hour that Beethoven paid for instruction was scarcely as
tempting to the Haydn of that day as it would have been to the Haydn of
fifty years before. The breach between the old and the young composer
widened. The latter went to Schenk, a reputable musician, for additional
lessons, and then refused to call himself Haydn's pupil. Haydn at one time
intended to take Beethoven to England with him, but the latter, whenever
occasion offered, made unflattering and contemptuous remarks about the old
man, and these irritating him and wounding his self-esteem caused him to
abandon his intention. Later, Beethoven's resentment softened, and when on
his deathbed he was shown a view of Haydn's humble birth-place, he said:
"To think that so great a man should have been born in a common peasant's

While in Vienna Haydn paid a visit to his native village Rohrau, the
occasion being the inauguration of a monument erected in his honor by
Count Harrach, in whose household Haydn's mother had been a cook. The
emotions of the composer may be imagined. The little boy who fifty-four
years earlier quitted home to study with the pedagogue Frankh, returned
in the glory of a fame that was world-wide, and one of the greatest of
composers, honored of monarchs, and courted of all. Good fortune had
followed him from the first; and though he suffered much in those sad,
early days, every change in his position was for the better. Far different
was the fate of a still greater master, the luckless Mozart.

In 1794, Haydn departed on his second journey to London under contract to
Salomon to compose six new symphonies. Prince Anton parted unwillingly
with him and died three days after. The success of the previous visit was
repeated, and his reception was even still more fervent and enthusiastic.
Toward the end of this stay he was much distinguished by the Court. At
a concert at York House, the King and Queen, the Princesses, the Prince
of Wales, and the Dukes of Clarence and Gloucester were present, and the
Prince of Wales presented Haydn to the King. Both the King and Queen urged
him to remain in England and pass the summer at Windsor; but Haydn replied
that he could not abandon Prince Esterhazy, and beside, the Prince
had already written that he wished to reorganize his chapel with Haydn
as conductor. He returned to his native land, his powers still further
developed, his fame increased and his fortune enlarged. By concerts,
lessons and symphonies he made twelve thousand florins ($6000) enough,
added to what he already possessed, to give him no further anxiety for the

Again was his welcome home marked by the most demonstrative cordiality.
From this time out there is but little to relate except to repeat the
story of his industry and his musical fecundity, until the culmination

Online LibraryVariousFamous Composers and their Works, Vol. 2 → online text (page 2 of 32)