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of his artistic career was reached in the works of his old age, "The
Creation" and "The Seasons." The success of both was enormous, and he
composed very little after the latter work. His health began to fail, and
he laid it at the door of "The Seasons." He said, "I should never have
undertaken it. It gave me the finishing stroke." He lived in comparative
seclusion, and only once more appeared in public, the occasion being a
performance of "The Creation." He was then seventy-six years of age.
As he entered the concert room he was saluted by a fanfare of trumpets
and the cheers of the audience. His excitement was so great that it was
thought advisable to take him home at the end of the first part. As he
was borne out friends and pupils surrounded him to take leave. Beethoven
was present, and bent down to kiss the old man's hands and forehead. All
animosities were soothed in that last hour of triumph; the crowning moment
and the close of a great master's career. When Haydn reached the door he
urged his bearers to pause and turn him face toward the orchestra. Then
he raised his hands as if in benediction, and in a long, lingering glance
bade farewell to the art to which he had been devoted since the time when,
as a boy, he hoarded his florins to purchase the precious volume of Fux,
which he placed under his pillow when he slept, down to this pathetic
culminating moment.

Haydn's life passed peacefully until in 1809 Vienna was bombarded by the
French, and a shell fell near his dwelling. His servants were alarmed,
but he cried in a loud voice, "Fear not, children. No harm can happen to
you while Haydn is here." The city was occupied by the enemy, and the
last visitor Haydn ever received was a French officer, who sang to him,
"In native worth." Haydn was deeply affected and embraced his guest
warmly at parting. A few days afterward, he called his servants about him
for the last time, and bidding them carry him to the piano he played the
Emperor's Hymn, three times. Five days later, May 31, 1809, that busy
life ended peacefully. He was buried in the Hundsthurm Churchyard, close
to the suburb in which he had lived; but eleven years later the remains
were exhumed by order of Prince Esterhazy and reinterred in the parish
church at Eisenstadt. When the coffin was opened for identification before
removal, the skull was missing. A skull was sent to the Prince from an
unknown source and was buried with the other remains; but there are good
grounds for the belief that the real skull is in the possession of the
family of an eminent physician of Vienna.

[Illustration: HAYDN'S GRAVE IN HUNDSTHURM CHURCHYARD.

At Gumpendorf, a suburb of Vienna, from whence the remains were taken to
the parish church at Eisenstadt.]

Fifteen days after his death Mozart's Requiem was performed in honor of
his memory at the Schotterkirche. Numerous French officers were among the
mourners, and the guard of honor about the bier was chiefly composed of
French soldiers No sooner did Haydn's death become known, than funeral
services were held in all the principal cities of Europe.

The list of Haydn's compositions is enormous. It includes 125 symphonies;
30 trios for strings, and strings and wind; 77 quartets for strings; 20
concertos for clavier; 31 concertos for various other instruments; 38
trios for piano and strings; 53 sonatas and divertissements for clavier; 4
sonatas for clavier and violin; 14 masses; 1 Stabat Mater; 8 oratorios and
cantatas; 19 operas; 42 canons for voice in two and more parts; 175 pieces
for the baritone; and a vast collection of other works, among which are a
collection of over 300 original Scotch songs in three parts with violin
and bass accompaniments and symphonies.

In estimating Haydn's life-work as a composer, the principal stress must
be laid on him as a reformer in his art. Contrapuntally, music had reached
its highest development, but in many other important directions it was
at a low ebb. Concerted music had not yet achieved any prominence as a
distinct branch of the art. Vocal music was in the ascendant and the
church and the opera-house offered the principal if not the only means
for composers to achieve distinction. In Vienna, the Emperor, Joseph
II., was a liberal patron of music, and the nobles, after the fashion
of nobles generally, followed the example of the court, and entered
into rivalry with each other in founding and supporting costly musical
establishments of their own. The Viennese, however, had no very marked
sympathy with art at its highest. One hundred and twenty-five years ago,
Leopold Mozart wrote: "The Viennese public love nothing that is serious or
reasonable; they have not the sense to understand it, and their theatres
prove sufficiently that nothing but rubbish such as dances, burlesque,
harlequinades, ghost magic and devil's tricks will satisfy them. A fine
gentleman, even with an order on his breast, may be seen laughing till
the tears run down his cheeks, applauding as heartily as he can, some bit
of foolish buffoonery; while in a highly pathetic scene he will chatter
so noisily with a lady that his wiser and better-mannered neighbors can
scarcely hear a word of the piece." From which it will be seen that
fashion changes but little as time passes.

Instrumental music was, for the most part, confined to dance tunes, and
minuets, allemands, waltzes and ländler were the rage. Presently these
rose to importance and musicians began to take greater care in composing
them, until at length came the suite, which was formed of a series of
dances all written in the same key but varying in accent and character.
Then followed a second part to the minuet, in the fifth of the key, and a
return to the first part, which proved to be the stepping-stone to form;
and the minuet survived the suite, of which it was originally a part, and
continued an indispensable element of the symphony down to the time that
Beethoven enlarged it into the scherzo.

In considering the influence that Haydn exercised on instrumental music
it may perhaps be interesting to take a passing glance at the condition
of orchestration when he began to compose. The string band, then, as now,
was the foundation of the whole, and the wind instruments were used to add
solidity to the score. The orchestra generally consisted of the string
quintet, two flutes, two oboes, two bassoons, two trumpets, two horns and
tympani. The first oboe did little else than duplicate the first violins,
while the second oboe only appeared now and then with a holding note, or
doubled the first oboe. The first bassoon either played in unison with the
bass or sustained the fundamental harmony, while the second bassoon, from
time to time, doubled the first. The violas rarely had an independent part
and as a rule duplicated the bass. It is true that Haydn had before him
the example of Stamitz, who gave an independent part to the viola in some
of his symphonies, but the innovation does not seem to have influenced
Haydn. Trumpets, horns and drums had but little to do except to produce
noise when contrast in effect was deemed necessary. Unquestionably,
Emanuel Bach departed somewhat from this conventional and circumscribed
treatment of the orchestra and gave to his wind instruments independent
parts. In his symphony in E-flat is to be found, amid the customary unison
and octave passages for the strings, some charming and even piquant
free writing for the wind, together with a marked feeling for contrasts
between the wind and the strings. The horns, especially, are used with a
genuine appreciation of their peculiar quality of tone and the effect of
their timbre. Occasionally the strings remain silent and the wood wind
are heard alone. More than this, for there is an attempt to employ
all the instruments in a manner calculated to let their characteristic
individualities produce their due effect in regard to tone-color; but,
strangely enough, Haydn does not appear to have been in any way swayed
by the innovations of his great predecessor, whose clavier works he had
studied so assiduously. Still, a near and an inevitable change in the
methods of writing for the orchestra was in the air, and the ground was
not wholly unprepared for Haydn.

[Music: Fac-simile of original sketch made by Haydn for the Austrian
Hymn, in which the melody and harmony differ somewhat from the published
version.]

The orchestration of John Sebastian Bach was thin despite its elaboration.
The strings formed the foundation, according to the prevailing rule, and
were written in so many real parts, and when wind instruments appeared,
they were also used with an independent polyphony. His contrasts were, for
the most part, produced by giving a melody to a simple solo instrument,
accompanied only by a bass, while a figured bass indicated the chords
to be filled in by the organ or the clavier. It can hardly be said that
the greatest of the Bachs advanced the art and science of orchestration.
Handel's scoring was in quite another vein, and may be viewed as
revolutionary for its era. In his overtures, especially, his strings are
used with the evident object of producing solidity in effect. The oboes
often strengthen the violins in unison and the bassoons perform the same
service for the basses, but he also used these instruments independently
and to embroider the broad and simple themes of the strings. In addition,
he made use of the latter and of the wind separately, each body full
in itself and responding each to the other. Now and then he used three
trumpets, and in his "Rinaldo" he resorts to four, giving the bass to the
drums. In "Saul" he uses three trombones. Clarinets were unknown to him,
and the bass tuba was unborn in his day; but otherwise he was acquainted
with all the instruments of the modern orchestra and made use of them. One
cannot recall an instance in which he used them all in combination, and
hence, the four trumpets of "Rinaldo" and the three trombones of "Saul"
are not heard together in any of his scores. Notwithstanding the fame of
Handel, his daring innovations in orchestration do not seem to have been
studied by Haydn, or if they were, they exercised no early influence over
him.

Gluck's scores must be considered epoch-making in the art of
orchestration. His "Orpheus" was produced in 1762 when Haydn was thirty
years of age; his "Iphigénie en Aulide" was produced in 1774, and the
other "Iphigénie" was given in 1779. In these works instrumentation was
advanced to an extent that broke almost wholly with the past. When Gluck
died Haydn was in his fifty-fifth year, and yet the older composer, the
report of whose world-wide fame must have reached Haydn's ears, even in
the seclusion of Eisenstadt, does not appear to have suggested anything to
Haydn. The twelve great Salomon symphonies, Haydn's, till then, highest
achievements in orchestral writing, were not produced until some seven
years after Gluck's death, and in them the influence is unmistakably that
of Mozart, who had undoubtedly studied Gluck thoroughly.

The word "symphony" had various meanings before it became fixed as a name
for the highest form of instrumental music. It was, however, generally
understood to signify an overture, and its closest connection was with
the opera. Originally it was merely a notification to the audience that
the opera was about to begin; an appeal for silence and to concentrate
attention on the coming entrance of the singers. The French "symphony," as
exemplified by Lully, opened with a slow movement followed by an allegro,
frequently in fugue form, and passed again into an adagio which ended the
overture. The Italian symphony consisted of three movements, the first
of which was a moderate allegro, the second an adagio, and the last a
livelier and lighter allegro; and the Italian overture, as will be seen,
became the foundation of the modern symphony as far as the positions of
the movements are concerned. Before Haydn, Stamitz, Abel, J. C. Bach and
Wagenseil, as well as Emanuel Bach, had written symphonies, and a symphony
by Stamitz, in D, is peculiarly interesting, inasmuch as its form is
completely in accordance with that which was established permanently by
Haydn. The opening movement is an Allegro, with the familiar double bar
with the repeats and the binary form. The second movement is an Andante
in the dominant; the third is a Minuet that has even the Trio, and the
finale is a Presto. The clavier sonatas of Ph. Emanuel Bach congealed this
form and had a permanent influence on it, in the impression they made upon
Haydn, who, by his mastery of his art, his amazing fecundity in invention
and his unflagging productive powers, was enabled to increase the scope
and aim of this form so greatly as to entitle him to be recognized as the
creator of the symphony. Haydn's first symphony was written in 1759, for
Count Morzin. We are unaware of any printed copy of it in this country.
Pohl describes it as a slight work in three movements for two violins,
viola, bass, two oboes and two horns. It appears to be modelled on the
symphonies of Stamitz, Abel and John Christian Bach. The symphonies that
followed differed but little in character from this one and afford little
if any insight into Haydn's influence on the symphonic form. He appears
to have followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, curiously enough,
ignoring the symphonies of Emanuel Bach. The orchestration is meagre and
conventional, the violins are almost constantly playing, and the wind
is only used to duplicate them. It is not until we come to the first
symphony composed by him at Eisenstadt that we see him as an innovator.
This work is in C-major, and is generally known as "Le Matin." It is in
four movements and begins with a few bars of adagio. The opening allegro
is remarkable for its variety of subjects and their treatment, and for
the careful manner in which it worked out. Between this movement and the
adagio is a long dramatic recitative for the violin, very impressive, but
having no discoverable connection with what precedes or what follows it.
In breadth, dignity, and expressiveness it surpasses anything that the
composer had hitherto produced. From this time forth the symphony steadily
grew under Haydn's hands; the form was enlarged, the orchestration
was varied, the timbres of the different instruments were studied and
instrumental effects gradually assumed an importance that increased with
each succeeding symphony. But his greatest symphonies were not written
until the period of the Salomon concerts. In the meanwhile Mozart had
appeared upon the scene. Haydn's first symphony was produced when Mozart
was three years old, and the latter died in the very year in which Haydn's
connection with the Salomon concerts began. That Haydn influenced Mozart's
early works is beyond question; that Mozart in turn, influenced Haydn
later, is equally indisputable.

[Illustration: JOSEPH HAYDN.

From an engraving by J. E. Mansfield, published by Artaria, in Vienna,
1781. Haydn in his forty-ninth year.]

In "Le Matin," before alluded to, the second violins play with the first,
and the viola with the basses almost through the whole of the first
movement. The slow movement has no wind instruments whatever. In the
minuet, though, there is a long passage for wind instruments only, and
in the trio is an extensive and florid solo for bassoon. Haydn treated
the strings in this same confined manner, and the wind after this solo
fashion for some twenty years. Then came an effort to make the strings
more independent and to pay attention to the peculiar qualities of the
viola and violoncello. In the symphony in E-minor (Letter I) the wind is
given long holding notes while strings sustain the subject. This was the
first step toward greater freedom of orchestration in Haydn's symphonies;
but it was not until his "Oxford" symphony that he broke wholly with the
past. It was written in 1788, the same year in which Mozart produced his
three greatest symphonies. This work is in his mature style, and the
orchestration is delightfully clear, flexible and fresh. If he had written
no more symphonies after this, however, he would not have attained to the
rank he has won as a symphony composer. His fame in this walk of his art
was assured by the twelve symphonies he wrote for Salomon after 1790. In
these he reached his highest point. His mastery of form was perfected,
his technical skill was unlimited, and he ventured into bold harmonic
progressions that were little short of daring, for his time. His orchestra
had been enlarged to two flutes, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, two
trumpets and drums, and in his three last symphonies, the two in D-minor
and the one in E-flat, two clarinets appear. It is in these twelve
symphonies that the influence of Mozart is clearly manifested. The bass
has attained to independence; the violas no longer duplicate it except
for certain effects; the second violins have a free motion of their own;
the wind instruments express musical ideas proper to them and appropriate
to their special qualities of utterance. The form and character of the
symphony were established permanently.

Simplicity, clearness of style, grace and playfulness are the leading
features of Haydn's symphonies. There are few of the more notable of them
in which his command over the science of his art is not delightfully
manifested. Haydn is invariably lucid, always finished to the highest
point, always logical and always free from display for the mere sake
of display. It is a prevailing fault to dwell too persistently on the
cheerful simplicity of Haydn's music and to forget how serious and
profound he could be when occasion demanded. These latter qualities are
nobly manifested in his more important symphonies in those portions
of them devoted to the "working out." Such symphonies as appeared
before Haydn fixed the form and showed the capacity of that species of
composition have wholly disappeared. It would perhaps be over dogmatic
to assert that had it not been for Haydn the symphonies of Mozart and of
Beethoven would not have been what they are; but it is certain that Haydn
gave the impulse to both in as far as their symphony writing is concerned.

Of the quartet Haydn may be justly called the inventor, and it is in this
phase of his art that he may be most profitably studied. The quartet
was, as Otto Jahn truly says, "Haydn's natural mode of expressing his
feelings," and it is in the quartet that Haydn's growth and progress in
his art are most strikingly illustrated. Their influence on music has been
greater than that exerted by his symphonies. Here he is seen in his full
and his best strength, and it is here too that his extraordinary creative
powers are most brilliantly emphasized. When these works first appeared
they were sneered at by the pedagogues of the day, but by-and-by more
respect was shown to them even by their earlier antagonists, for it was
seen that the quartet was not only susceptible of depth of sentiment and
seriousness of treatment, but that musical learning also had in them a
field for its finest development. These quartets, from the opportunities
they afforded for performance in the family circle, exercised great
influence in raising the standard of taste, and in their educational
aspects they were thus of the highest service. They crystallized form
and in essence may be looked on as the parent of all the serious and
so-called classical music that has been composed since. The progeny may
only distantly resemble the parents, but the form establishes beyond all
cavil the family resemblance.

Haydn's first quartet is the merest shadow. The first half of the opening
movement consists of no more than twenty-four bars. The subject comprises
eight bars; then comes eight bars of an episode modulating into the
dominant, and then the second subject, also eight bars in length; but
brief and pale as it is, it is unmistakably the germ that was elaborated
by Beethoven into such prodigious masterpieces. It is in the quartet that
Haydn found the fullest outlet for his wealth of musical thought, and
it is in the quartet that his genius is illustrated in its most marked
individuality. Quartets were written before his day, and also by his
contemporaries, J. C. Bach, Stamitz, Jomelli, Boccherini, and others, but
Haydn's marvellous invention, his originality in the mastery of form, his
fine feeling for the characteristic speech of each instrument enabled him
to obtain a mastery that left him without a rival. His early quartets
are exceedingly thin, and are in such glaring contrast with what came
after the composer had wholly developed the capacity of the quartet as a
means of profound expression of musical thought, that he is said to have
wished to ignore all his works in this class that preceded the nineteenth
quartet; but they are necessary to the student who would follow the
growth of musical form. It is an immense stride from the first of these
compositions to the ever-beautiful "Kaiser quartet," with its exquisite
variations, or "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser." The advance from simple
harmonies to polyphonic treatment of the different parts, is a peculiarly
interesting subject for study. Haydn stamped a character on the quartet
that has never been departed from; and what is known as the "quartet
style" was established by him so thoroughly that in all the mutations in
musical taste, it still remains a distinction that admits of no change.

Haydn also left the impress of his genius on the sonata, though to Emanuel
Bach is due the honor of having broken with the past as represented by
Domenico Scarlatti and Kuhnau. The same copiousness of invention and
perfection of form that characterize his quartets and symphonies are to be
found in his sonatas, too much neglected at present, for in several of
his later compositions of this class he appears to have gone further than
Mozart and to have overlapped into the era of Beethoven. His trios for
clavier and strings are full of interest, but with two or three exceptions
they are not of special value except as models. The strings are often
held subordinate to the piano, and the outer voices are too persistently
doubled. Of his other purely instrumental works, including concertos and
divertimenti, nothing survives except the fine concerto for clavier in D
with "principal violin."

His songs, of which he wrote many, have passed for the most part into
deserved oblivion. Some of his canzonets are marked by grace and delicacy,
but the sign of age is unmistakably on them. His masses display that
eternal freshness and that cheerfulness of spirit that are peculiarly
Haydn's, and the more important of them must rank forever among the
masterpieces of their class, notably the "Mariazell" Mass in C-major, and
the "Cecilia" Mass, in the same key.

"The Seasons" and "The Creation" are remarkable not only in themselves,
but as productions of his old age. It is true that his fame does not rest
on them, and it is equally true that if he had written nothing else these
works would not have brought the composer's name down to our day with the
glory that now surrounds it. Some portions of "The Creation" however, are
noble music, and these will always be listened to with delight. Never
was the human voice treated in a more masterly manner than it has been
by Haydn in these "oratorios," and the study of their scores is still
valuable to all who would learn how to support the voice by flowing and
brilliant orchestration without giving undue prominence to the instruments.

The dramatic interest of "The Creation" is not strong. There is nothing
in the shape of declamation, and the singers are confined to mere
description. The result is a lack of passion and a consequent monotony of
sentiment. The tone-picture of Chaos, with which the work opens, stands
out as one of the noblest bits of instrumentation that Haydn ever wrote.
The air "With Verdure Clad" is exquisite, in melody and orchestration,
but its many repetitions mar it and make it tiresome. "On mighty pens" is
another lovely air, but here too the composer has not been fortunate in
respect to discreet brevity. The choruses reach a high point of beauty
in regard to themes, development and voice treatment, and "The Heavens
are telling" still remains one of the noblest oratorio choruses outside
of Bach and Handel. But the breadth and dignity of all the choruses are
impaired by the elaborateness of the orchestration. Haydn was essentially
an instrumental composer, and it was but natural that he should have
yielded to the temptation to produce effects of which he was practically



Online LibraryVariousFamous Composers and their Works, Vol. 2 → online text (page 3 of 32)