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Haydn by J. Cuthbert Hadden

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by J. Cuthbert Hadden



Chapter I: Birth--Ancestry--Early Years
Chapter II: Vienna--1750-1760
Chapter III: Eisenstadt--1761-1766
Chapter IV: Esterhaz--1766-1790
Chapter V: First London Visit--1791-1792
Chapter VI: Second London Visit--1794-1795
Chapter VII: "The Creation" and "The Seasons"
Chapter VIII: Last Years
Chapter IX: Haydn, the Man
Chapter X: Haydn, the Composer
Appendix A: Haydn's Last Will and Testament
Appendix B: Catalogue of Works
Appendix C: Bibliography
Appendix D: Haydn's Brothers
Appendix E: A Selection of Haydn's Letters



The Rev. Robert Blair, D.D.
In Grateful Acknowledgment of
Many Kindnesses and Much
Pleasant Intercourse


The authority for Haydn's life is the biography begun by the late
Dr Pohl, and completed after his death by E.V. Mandyczewski. To
this work, as yet untranslated, every subsequent writer is
necessarily indebted, and the present volume, which I may fairly
claim to be the fullest life of Haydn that has so far appeared in
English, is largely based upon Pohl. I am also under obligations
to Miss Pauline D. Townsend, the author of the monograph in the
"Great Musicians" series. For the rest, I trust I have acquainted
myself with all the more important references made to Haydn in
contemporary records and in the writings of those who knew him.
Finally, I have endeavoured to tell the story of his career
simply and directly, to give a clear picture of the man, and to
discuss the composer without trenching on the ground of the


EDINBURGH, September 1902.




Introductory--Rohrau--A Poor Home--Genealogy--Haydn's Parents--
His Birth--His Precocity--Informal Music-making--His First
Teacher--Hainburg--"A Regular Little Urchin"--Attacks the Drum--
A Piece of Good Luck--A Musical Examination--Goes to Vienna--Choir
School of St Stephen's--A House of Suffering--Lessons at the
Cathedral--A Sixteen-Part Mass--Juvenile Escapades--"Sang like a
Crow"--Dismissed from the Choir.

Haydn's position, alike in music and in musical biography, is
almost unique. With the doubtful exception of Sebastian Bach, no
composer of the first rank ever enjoyed a more tranquil career.
Bach was not once outside his native Germany; Haydn left Austria
only to make those visits to England which had so important an
influence on the later manifestations of his genius: His was a
long, sane, sound, and on the whole, fortunate existence. For
many years he was poor and obscure, but if he had his time of
trial, he never experienced a time of failure. With practical
wisdom he conquered the Fates and became eminent. A hard,
struggling youth merged into an easy middle-age, and late years
found him in comfortable circumstances, with a solid reputation
as an artist, and a solid retiring-allowance from a princely
patron, whose house he had served for the better part of his
working career. Like Goethe and Wordsworth, he lived out all his
life. He was no Marcellus, shown for one brief moment and
"withdrawn before his springtime had brought forth the fruits of
summer." His great contemporary, Mozart, cut off while yet his
light was crescent, is known to posterity only by the products of
his early manhood. Haydn's sun set at the end of a long day,
crowning his career with a golden splendour whose effulgence
still brightens the ever-widening realm of music.

Voltaire once said of Dante that his reputation was becoming
greater and greater because no one ever read him. Haydn's
reputation is not of that kind. It is true that he may not appeal
to what has been called the "fevered modern soul," but there is
an old-world charm about him which is specially grateful in our
bustling, nerve-destroying, bilious age. He is still known as
"Papa Haydn," and the name, to use Carlyle's phrase, is
"significant of much." In the history of the art his position is
of the first importance. He was the father of instrumental music.
He laid the foundations of the modern symphony and sonata, and
established the basis of the modern orchestra. Without him,
artistically speaking, Beethoven would have been impossible. He
seems to us now a figure of a very remote past, so great have
been the changes in the world of music since he lived. But his
name will always be read in the golden book of classical music;
and whatever the evolutionary processes of the art may bring, the
time can hardly come when he will be forgotten, his works


Franz Joseph Haydn was born at the little market-town of Rohrau,
near Prugg, on the confines of Austria and Hungary, some
two-and-a-half hours' railway journey from Vienna. The Leitha,
which flows along the frontier of Lower Austria and Hungary on
its way to the Danube, runs near, and the district

[Figure: Haydn's birth-house at Rohrau]

is flat and marshy. The house in which the composer was born had
been built by his father. Situated at the end of the market-place,
it was in frequent danger from inundation; and although it stood
in Haydn's time with nothing worse befalling it than a flooding
now and again, it has twice since been swept away, first in 1813,
fours years after Haydn's death, and again in 1833. It was
carefully rebuilt on each occasion, and still stands for the
curious to see--a low-roofed cottage, very much as it was when
the composer of "The Creation" first began to be "that various
thing called man." A fire unhappily did some damage to the
building in 1899. But excepting that the picturesque thatched
roof has given place to a covering of less inflammable material,
the "Zum Haydn" presents its extensive frontage to the road, just
as it did of yore. Our illustration shows it exactly as it is
to-day. [See an interesting account of a visit to the cottage
after the fire, in The Musical Times for July 1899.] Schindler
relates that when Beethoven, shortly before his death, was shown
a print of the cottage, sent to him by Diabelli, he remarked:
"Strange that so great a man should have been born in so poor a
home!" Beethoven's relations with Haydn, as we shall see later
on, were at one time somewhat strained; but the years had
softened his asperity, and this indirect tribute to his brother
composer may readily be accepted as a set-off to some things that
the biographer of the greater genius would willingly forget.

A Poor Home

It was indeed a poor home into which Haydn had been born; but
tenderness, piety, thrift and orderliness were there, and
probably the happiest part of his career was that which he spent
in the tiny, dim-lighted rooms within sound of Leitha's waters.

In later life, when his name had been inscribed on the roll of
fame, he looked back to the cottage at Rohrau, "sweet through
strange years," with a kind of mingled pride and pathetic regret.
Flattered by the great and acclaimed by the devotees of his art,
he never felt ashamed of his lowly origin. On the contrary, he
boasted of it. He was proud, as he said, of having "made
something out of nothing." He does not seem to have been often at
Rohrau after he was launched into the world, a stripling not yet
in his teens. But he retained a fond memory of his birthplace.
When in 1795 he was invited to inspect a monument erected to his
honour in the grounds of Castle Rohrau, he knelt down on the
threshold of the old home by the market-place and kissed the
ground his feet had trod in the far-away days of youth. When he
came to make his will, his thoughts went back to Rohrau, and one
of his bequests provided for two of its poorest orphans.


Modern theories of heredity and the origin of genius find but
scanty illustration in the case of Haydn. Unlike the ancestors of
Bach and Beethoven and Mozart, his family, so far as the
pedigrees show, had as little of genius, musical or other, in
their composition, as the families of Shakespeare and Cervantes.
In the male line they were hard-working, honest tradesmen,
totally undistinguished even in their sober walk in life. They
came originally from Hainburg, where Haydn's great-grandfather,
Kaspar, had been among the few to escape massacre when the town
was stormed by the Turks in July 1683. The composer's father,
Matthias Haydn, was, like most of his brothers, a wheelwright,
combining with his trade the office of parish sexton. He belonged
to the better peasant class, and, though ignorant as we should
now regard him, was yet not without a tincture of artistic taste.
He had been to Frankfort during his "travelling years," and had
there picked up some little information of a miscellaneous kind.
"He was a great lover of music by nature," says his famous son,
"and played the harp without knowing a note of music." He had
a fine tenor voice, and when the day's toil was over he would
gather his household around him and set them singing to his
well-meant accompaniment.

Haydn's Mother

It is rather a pretty picture that the imagination here conjures
up, but it does not help us very much in trying to account for
the musical genius of the composer. Even the popular idea that
genius is derived from the mother does not hold in Haydn's case.
If Frau Haydn had a genius for anything it was merely for moral
excellence and religion and the good management of her household.
Like Leigh Hunt's mother, however, she was "fond of music, and a
gentle singer in her way"; and more than one intimate of Haydn in
his old age declared that he still knew by heart all the simple
airs which she had been wont to lilt about the house. The maiden
name of this estimable woman was Marie Koller. She was a daughter
of the Marktrichter (market judge), and had been a cook in the
family of Count Harrach, one of the local magnates. Eight years
younger than her husband, she was just twenty-one at her
marriage, and bore him twelve children. Haydn's regard for her
was deep and sincere; and it was one of the tricks of destiny
that she was not spared to witness more of his rising fame,
being cut off in 1754, when she was only forty-six. Matthias
Haydn promptly married again, and had a second family of five
children, all of whom died in infancy. The stepmother survived
her husband--who died, as the result of an accident, in 1763--and
then she too entered a second time into the wedded state. Haydn
can never have been very intimate with her, and he appears to have
lost sight of her entirely in her later years. But he bequeathed a
small sum to her in his will, "to be transferred to her children
should she be no longer alive."


Joseph Haydn, to give the composer the name which he now usually
bears, was the second of the twelve children born to the Rohrau
wheelwright. The exact date of his birth is uncertain, but it was
either the 31st of March or the 1st of April 1732. Haydn himself
gave the latter as the correct date, alleging that his brother
Michael had fixed upon the previous day to save him from being
called an April fool! Probably we shall not be far off the mark
if we assume with Pohl that Haydn was born in the night between
the 31st of March and the 1st of April.

His Precocity

Very few details have come down to us in regard to his earlier
years; and such details as we have refer almost wholly to his
musical precocity. It was not such a precocity as that of Mozart,
who was playing minuets at the age of four, and writing concertos
when he was five; but just on that account it is all the more
credible. One's sympathies are with the frank Philistine who
pooh-poohs the tales told of baby composers, and hints that they
must have been a trial to their friends. Precocious they no doubt
were; but precocity often evaporates before it can become genius,
leaving a sediment of disappointed hopes and vain ambitions. In
literature, as Mr Andrew Lang has well observed, genius may show
itself chiefly in acquisition, as in Sir Walter Scott, who, as a
boy, was packing all sorts of lore into a singularly capacious
mind, while doing next to nothing that was noticeable. In music
it is different. Various learning is not so important as a keenly
sensitive organism. The principal thing is emotion, duly ordered
by the intellect, not intellect touched by emotion. Haydn's
precocity at any rate was of this sort. It proclaimed itself in a
quick impressionableness to sound, a delicately-strung ear, and
an acute perception of rhythm.

Informal Music-Making

We have seen how the father had his musical evenings with his
harp and the voices of wife and children. These informal
rehearsals were young Haydn's delight. We hear more particularly
of his attempts at music-making by sawing away upon a piece of
stick at his father's side, pretending to play the violin like
the village schoolmaster under whom he was now learning his
rudiments. The parent was hugely pleased at these manifestations
of musical talent in his son. He had none of the absurd, old-world
ideas of Surgeon Handel as to the degrading character of the
divine art, but encouraged the youngster in every possible way.
Already he dreamt--what father of a clever boy has not done the
same?--that Joseph would in some way or other make the family
name famous; and although it is said that like his wife, he had
notions of the boy becoming a priest, he took the view that his
progress towards holy orders would be helped rather than hindered
by the judicious cultivation of his undoubted taste for music.

His First Teacher

While these thoughts were passing through his head, the chance
visit of a relation practically decided young Haydn's future. His
grandmother, being left a widow, had married a journeyman
wheelwright, Matthias Seefranz, and one of their children married
a schoolmaster, Johann Matthias Frankh. Frankh combined with the
post of pedagogue that of choir-regent at Hainburg, the ancestral
home of the Haydns, some four leagues from Rohrau. He came
occasionally to Rohrau to see his relatives, and one day he
surprised Haydn keeping strict time to the family music on his
improvised fiddle. Some discussion following about the boy's
unmistakable talent, the schoolmaster generously offered to take
him to Hainburg that he might learn "the first elements of music
and other juvenile acquirements." The father was pleased; the
mother, hesitating at first, gave her reluctant approval, and
Haydn left the family home never to return, except on a flying
visit. This was in 1738, when he was six years of age.


The town of Hainburg lies close to the Danube, and looks very
picturesque with its old walls and towers. According to the
Nibelungen Lied, King Attila once spent a night in the place, and
a stone figure of that "scourge of God" forms a feature of the
Hainburg Wiener Thor, a rock rising abruptly from the river,
crowned with the ruined Castle of Rottenstein. The town cannot be
very different from what it was in Haydn's time, except perhaps
that there is now a tobacco manufactory, which gives employment
to some 2000 hands.

It is affecting to think of the little fellow of six dragged away
from his home and his mother's watchful care to be planted down
here among strange surroundings and a strange people. That he was
not very happy we might have assumed in any case. But there were,
unfortunately, some things to render him more unhappy than he
need have been. Frankh's intentions were no doubt excellent; but
neither in temper nor in character was he a fit guardian and
instructor of youth. He got into trouble with the authorities
more than once for neglect of his duties, and had to answer a
charge of gambling with loaded dice. As a teacher he was of that
stern disciplinarian kind which believes in lashing instruction
into the pupil with the "tingling rod." Haydn says he owed him
more cuffs than gingerbread.

"A Regular Little Urchin"

What he owed to the schoolmaster's wife may be inferred from the
fact that she compelled him to wear a wig "for the sake of
cleanliness." All his life through Haydn was most particular
about his personal appearance, and when quite an old man it
pained him greatly to recall the way in which he was neglected by
Frau Frankh. "I could not help perceiving," he remarked to Dies,
"much to my distress, that I was gradually getting very dirty,
and though I thought a good deal of my little person, was not
always able to avoid spots of dirt on my clothes, of which I was
dreadfully ashamed. In fact, I was a regular little urchin."
Perhaps we should not be wrong in surmising that the old man was
here reading into his childhood the habits and sentiments of his
later years. Young boys of his class are not usually deeply
concerned about grease spots or disheveled hair.

Attacks the Drum

At all events, if deplorably neglected in these personal matters,
he was really making progress with his art. Under Frankh's
tuition he attained to some proficiency on the violin and the
harpsichord, and his voice was so improved that, as an early
biographer puts it, he was able to "sing at the parish desk in a
style which spread his reputation through the canton." Haydn
himself, going back upon these days in a letter of 1779, says:
"Our Almighty Father (to whom above all I owe the most profound
gratitude) had endowed me with so much facility in music that
even in my sixth year I was bold enough to sing some masses in
the choir." He was bold enough to attempt something vastly more
ponderous. A drummer being wanted for a local procession, Haydn
undertook to play the part. Unluckily, he was so small of stature
that the instrument had to be carried before him on the back of a
colleague! That the colleague happened to be a hunchback only
made the incident more ludicrous. But Haydn had rather a
partiality for the drum--a satisfying instrument, as Mr George
Meredith says, because of its rotundity--and, as we shall learn
when we come to his visits to London, he could handle the
instrument well enough to astonish the members of Salomon's
orchestra. According to Pohl, the particular instrument upon
which he performed on the occasion of the Hainburg procession is
still preserved in the choir of the church there.

Hard as these early years must have been, Haydn recognized in
after-life that good had mingled with the ill. His master's
harshness had taught him patience and self-reliance. "I shall be
grateful to Frankh as long as I live," he said to Griesinger,
"for keeping me so hard at work." He always referred to Frankh as
"my first instructor," and, like Handel with Zachau, he
acknowledged his indebtedness in a practical way by bequeathing
to Frankh's daughter, then married, 100 florins and a portrait of
her father--a bequest which she missed by dying four years before
the composer himself.

A Piece of Good Fortune

Haydn had been two years with Frankh when an important piece of
good fortune befell him. At the time of which we are writing the
Court Capellmeister at Vienna was George Reutter, an
inexhaustible composer of church music, whose works, now
completely forgotten, once had a great vogue in all the choirs of
the Imperial States. Even in 1823 Beethoven, who was to write a
mass for the Emperor Francis, was recommended to adopt the style
of this frilled and periwigged pedant! Reutter's father had been
for many years Capellmeister at St Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna,
and on his death, in 1738, the son succeeded to the post. He had
not been long established in the office when he started on a tour
of search for choristers. Arriving at Hainburg, he heard from the
local pastor of Haydn's "weak but pleasing voice," and
immediately had the young singer before him.

A Musical Examination

The story of the examination is rather amusing. Reutter gave the
little fellow a canon to sing at first sight. The boy went though
the thing triumphantly, and the delighted Reutter cried "Bravo!"
as he flung a handful of cherries into Haydn's cap. But there was
one point on which Reutter was not quite satisfied. "How is it,
my little man," he said, "that you cannot shake?" "How can you
expect me to shake," replied the enfant terrible, "when Herr
Frankh himself cannot shake?" The great man was immensely tickled
by the ready retort, and, drawing the child towards him, he
taught him how to make the vibrations in his throat required to
produce the ornament. The boy picked up the trick at once. It was
the final decision of his fate. Reutter saw that here was a
recruit worth having, and he lost no time in getting the parents'
sanction to carry him off to Vienna. In the father's case this
was easily managed, but the mother only yielded when it was
pointed out that her son's singing in the cathedral choir did not
necessarily mean the frustration of her hopes of seeing him made
a priest.

Goes to Vienna

Thus, some time in the year 1740, Reutter marched away from
Hainburg with the little Joseph, and Hainburg knew the little
Joseph no more. Vienna was now to be his home for ten long years
of dreary pupilage and genteel starvation. In those days, and for
long after, St Stephen's Cathedral was described as "the first
church in the empire," and it is still, with its magnificent
spire, the most important edifice in Vienna. Erected in 1258 and
1276 on the site of a church dating from 1144, it was not finally
completed until 1446. It is in the form of a Latin cross, and is
355 feet long. The roof is covered with coloured tiles, and the
rich groined vaulting is borne by eighteen massive pillars,
adorned with more than a hundred statuettes. Since 1852 the
building has been thoroughly restored, but in all essentials
it remains as it was when Haydn sang in it as a choir-boy.

The Choir School of St Stephen's

Many interesting details have been printed regarding the Choir
School of St Stephen's and its routine in Haydn's time. They have
been well summarized by one of his biographers. [See Miss Townsend's
Haydn, p. 9.] The Cantorei was of very ancient foundation. Mention
is made of it as early as 1441, and its constitution may be gathered
from directions given regarding it about the period 1558-1571. It
was newly constituted in 1663, and many alterations were made then
and afterwards, but in Haydn's day it was still practically what it
had been for nearly a century before. The school consisted of a
cantor (made Capellmeister in 1663), a sub-cantor, two ushers and
six scholars. They all resided together, and had meals in common;
and although ample allowance had originally been made for the board,
lodging and clothing of the scholars, the increased cost of living
resulted in the boys of Haydn's time being poorly fed and scantily
clad. They were instructed in "religion and Latin, together with the
ordinary subjects of school education, and in music, the violin,
clavier, and singing." The younger scholars were taken in hand by
those more advanced. The routine would seem to us now to be somewhat
severe. There were two full choral services daily in the cathedral.
Special Te Deums were constantly sung, and the boys had to take part
in the numerous solemn processions of religious brotherhoods through
the city, as well as in the services for royal birthdays and other
such occasions. During Holy Week the labours of the choir were
continuous. Children's processions were very frequent, and Haydn's
delight in after years at the performance of the charity children in
St Paul's may have been partly owing to the reminiscences of early
days which it awakened.

A House of Suffering

But these details are aside from our main theme. The chapel-house
of St Stephen's was now the home of our little Joseph. It ought
to have been a happy home of instruction, but it was, alas! a
house of suffering. Reutter did not devote even ordinary care to
his pupil, and from casual lessons in musical theory he drifted
into complete neglect. Haydn afterwards declared that he had
never had more than two lessons in composition from Reutter, who
was, moreover, harsh and cruel and unfeeling, laughing at his
pupil's groping attempts, and chastising him on the slightest
pretext. It has been hinted that the Capellmeister was jealous of
his young charge--that he was "afraid of finding a rival in the
pupil." But this is highly improbable. Haydn had not as yet shown
any unusual gifts likely to excite the envy of his superior.
There is more probability in the other suggestion that Reutter
was piqued at not having been allowed by Haydn's father to
perpetuate the boy's fine voice by the ancient method of
emasculation. The point, in any case, is not of very much
importance. It is sufficient to observe that Reutter's name
survives mainly in virtue of the fact that he tempted Haydn to
Vienna with the promise of special instruction, and gave him
practically nothing of that, but a great deal of ill-usage.

Lessons at St Stephen's

Haydn was supposed to have lessons from two undistinguished
professors named Gegenbauer and Finsterbusch. But it all
amounted to very little. There was the regular drilling for
the church services, to be sure: solfeggi and psalms, psalms
and solfeggi--always apt to degenerate, under a pedant, into the
dreariest of mechanical routine. How many a sweet-voiced chorister,
even in our own days, reaches manhood with a love for music?
It needs music in his soul. Haydn's soul withstood the numbing
influence of pedantry. He realized that it lay with himself to
develop and nurture the powers within his breast of which he was
conscious. "The talent was in me," he remarked, "and by dint of
hard work I managed to get on." Shortly before his death, when
he happened to be in Vienna for some church festival, he had an
opportunity of speaking to the choir-boys of that time. "I was
once a singing boy," he said. "Reutter brought me from Hainburg
to Vienna. I was industrious when my companions were at play.
I used to take my little clavier under my arm, and go off to
practice undisturbed. When I sang a solo, the baker near St
Stephen's yonder always gave me a cake as a present. Be good
and industrious, and serve God continually."

A Sixteen-Part Mass!

It is pathetic to think of the boy assiduously scratching
innumerable notes on scraps of music paper, striving with yet
imperfect knowledge to express himself, and hoping that by some
miracle of inspiration something like music might come out of it.
"I thought it must be all right if the paper was nice and full,"
he said. He even went the length of trying to write a mass in
sixteen parts--an effort which Reutter rewarded with a shrug and
a sneer, and the sarcastic suggestion that for the present two
parts might be deemed sufficient, and that he had better perfect
his copying of music before trying to compose it. But Haydn was
not to be snubbed and snuffed out in this way. He appealed to his
father for money to buy some theory books. There was not too much
money at Rohrau, we may be sure, for the family was always
increasing, and petty economies were necessary. But the
wheelwright managed to send the boy six florins, and that sum was
immediately expended on Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum and Mattheson's
Volkommener Capellmeister--heavy, dry treatises both, which have
long since gone to the musical antiquary's top shelf among the
dust and the cobwebs. These "dull and verbose dampers to
enthusiasm" Haydn made his constant companions, in default of a
living instructor, and, like Longfellow's "great men," toiled
upwards in the night, while less industrious mortals snored.

Juvenile Escapades

Meanwhile his native exuberance and cheerfulness of soul were
irrepressible. Several stories are told of the schoolboy
escapades he enjoyed with his fellow choristers. One will suffice
here. He used to boast that he had sung with success at Court as
well as in St Stephen's. This meant that he had made one of the
choir when visits were paid to the Palace of Schonbrunn, where
the Empress Maria and her Court resided. On the occasion of one
of these visits the palace was in the hands of the builders, and
the scaffolding presented the usual temptation to the youngsters.
"The empress," to quote Pohl, "had caught them climbing it many a
time, but her threats and prohibitions had no effect. One day
when Haydn was balancing himself aloft, far above his
schoolfellows, the empress saw him from the windows, and
requested her Hofcompositor to take care that 'that fair-headed
blockhead,' the ringleader of them all, got 'einen recenten
Schilling' (slang for 'a good hiding')." The command was only too
willingly obeyed by the obsequious Reutter, who by this time had
been ennobled, and rejoiced in the addition of "von" to his name.
Many years afterwards, when the empress was on a visit to Prince
Esterhazy, the "fair-headed blockhead" took the cruel delight of
thanking her for this rather questionable mark of Imperial

"Sang like a Crow"

As a matter of fact, the empress, however she may have thought of
Haydn the man, showed herself anything but considerate to Haydn
the choir-boy. The future composer's younger brother, Michael,
had now arrived in Vienna, and had been admitted to the St
Stephen's choir. His voice is said to have been "stronger and of
better quality" than Joseph's, which had almost reached the
"breaking" stage; and the empress, complaining to Reutter that
Joseph "sang like a crow," the complacent choirmaster put Michael
in his place. The empress was so pleased with the change that she
personally complimented Michael, and made him a present of 24

Dismissed from St Stephen's

One thing leads to another. Reutter, it is obvious, did not like
Haydn, and any opportunity of playing toady to the empress was
too good to be lost. Unfortunately Haydn himself provided the
opportunity. Having become possessed of a new pair of scissors,
he was itching to try their quality. The pig-tail of the
chorister sitting before him offered an irresistible attraction;
one snip and lo! the plaited hair lay at his feet. Discipline
must be maintained; and Reutter sentenced the culprit to be caned
on the hand. This was too great an indignity for poor Joseph, by
this time a youth of seventeen--old enough, one would have
thought, to have forsworn such boyish mischief. He declared that
he would rather leave the cathedral service than submit. "You
shall certainly leave," retorted the Capellmeister, "but you must
be caned first." And so, having received his caning, Haydn was
sent adrift on the streets of Vienna, a broken-voiced chorister,
without a coin in his pocket, and with only poverty staring him
in the face. This was in November 1749.



Vienna--The Forlorn Ex-Chorister--A Good Samaritan--Haydn
Enskied--Street Serenades--Joins a Pilgrim Party--An
Unconditional Loan--"Attic" Studies--An Early Composition--
Metastasio--A Noble Pupil--Porpora--Menial Duties--Emanuel Bach--
Haydn his Disciple--Violin Studies--Attempts at "Programme"
Music--First Opera--An Aristocratic Appointment--Taken for an
Impostor--A Count's Capellmeister--Falls in Love--Marries--
His Wife.


The Vienna into which Haydn was thus cast, a friendless and
forlorn youth of seventeen, was not materially different from the
Vienna of to-day. While the composer was still living, one who had
made his acquaintance wrote of the city: "Represent to yourself
an assemblage of palaces and very neat houses, inhabited by the
most opulent families of one of the greatest monarchies in
Europe--by the only noblemen to whom that title may still be with
justice applied. The women here are attractive; a brilliant
complexion adorns an elegant form; the natural but sometimes
languishing and tiresome air of the ladies of the north of
Germany is mingled with a little coquetry and address, the effect
of the presence of a numerous Court...In a word, pleasure has
taken possession of every heart." This was written when Haydn was
old and famous; it might have been written when his name was yet

Vienna was essentially a city of pleasure--a city inhabited by "a
proud and wealthy nobility, a prosperous middle class, and a
silent, if not contented, lower class." In 1768, Leopold Mozart,
the father of the composer, declared that the Viennese public had
no love of anything serious or sensible; "they cannot even
understand it, and their theatres furnish abundant proof that
nothing but utter trash, such as dances, burlesques,
harlequinades, ghost tricks, and devils' antics will go down with
them." There is, no doubt, a touch of exaggeration in all this,
but it is sufficiently near the truth to let us understand the
kind of attention which the disgraced chorister of St Stephen's
was likely to receive from the musical world of Vienna. It was
Vienna, we may recall, which dumped Mozart into a pauper's grave,
and omitted even to mark the spot.

The Forlorn Ex-Chorister

Young Haydn, then, was wandering, weary and perplexed, through
its streets, with threadbare clothes on his back and nothing in
his purse. There was absolutely no one to whom he could think of
turning. He might, indeed, have taken the road to Rohrau and been
sure of a warm welcome from his humble parents there. But there
were good reasons why he should not make himself a burden on
them; and, moreover, he probably feared that at home he would run
some risk of being tempted to abandon his cherished profession.
Frau Haydn had not yet given up the hope of seeing her boy made a
priest, and though we have no definite information that Haydn
himself felt a decided aversion to taking orders, it is evident
that he was disinclined to hazard the danger of domestic
pressure. He had now finally made up his mind that he would be a
composer; but he saw clearly enough that, for the present, he
must work, and work, too, not for fame, but for bread.

A Good Samaritan

Musing on these things while still parading the streets, tired
and hungry, he met one Spangler, a tenor singer of his
acquaintance, who earned a pittance at the Church of St Michael.
Spangler was a poor man--but it is ever the poor who are most
helpful to each other--and, taking pity on the dejected outcast,
he invited Haydn to share his garret rooms along with his wife
and child. It is regrettable that nothing more is known of this
good Samaritan--one of those obscure benefactors who go through
the world doing little acts of kindness, never perhaps even
suspecting how far-reaching will be the results. He must have
died before Haydn, otherwise his name would certainly have
appeared in his will.

Haydn Enskied

Haydn remained with Spangler in that "ghastly garret" all through
the winter of 1749-1750. He has been commiserated on the garret--
needlessly, to be sure. Garrets are famous, in literary annals at
any rate; and is it not Leigh Hunt who reminds us that the top
story is healthier than the basement? The poor poet in Pope, who
lay high in Drury Lane, "lull'd by soft zephyrs through the
broken pane," found profit, doubtless, in his "neighbourhood with
the stars." However that may be, there, in Spangler's attic, was
Haydn enskied, eager for work--work of any kind, so long as it
had fellowship with music and brought him the bare means of

"Scanning his whole horizon
In quest of what he could clap eyes on,"

he sought any and every means of making money. He tried to get
teaching, with what success has not been recorded. He sang in
choirs, played at balls and weddings and baptisms, made
"arrangements" for anybody who would employ him, and in short
drudged very much as Wagner did at the outset of his tempestuous

Street Serenades

He even took part in street serenades by playing the violin. This
last was not a very dignified occupation; but it is important to
remember that serenading in Vienna was not the lover's business
of Italy and Spain, where the singer is accompanied by guitar or
mandoline. It was a much more serious entertainment. It dated
from the seventeenth century, if we are to trust Praetorius, and
consisted of solos and concerted vocal music in various forms,
accompanied sometimes by full orchestra and sometimes by wind
instruments alone. Great composers occasionally honoured their
patrons and friends with the serenade; and composers who hoped to
be great found it advantageous as a means of gaining a hearing
for their works. It proved of some real service to Haydn later
on, but in the meantime it does not appear to have swelled his
lean purse. With all his industry he fell into the direst straits
now and again, and was more than once driven into wild projects
by sheer stress of hunger.

Joins a Pilgrim Party

One curious story is told of a journey to Mariazell, in Styria.
This picturesquely-situated village has been for many years the
most frequented shrine in Austria. To-day it is said to be visited
by something like 100,000 pilgrims every year. The object of
adoration is the miraculous image of the Madonna and Child,
twenty inches high, carved in lime-wood, which was presented to
the Mother Church of Mariazell in 1157 by a Benedictine priest.
Haydn was a devout Catholic, and not improbably knew all about
Mariazell and its Madonna. At any rate, he joined a company of
pilgrims, and on arrival presented himself to the local
choirmaster for admission, showing the official some of his
compositions, and telling of his eight years' training at St
Stephen's. The choirmaster was not impressed. "I have had enough
of lazy rascals from Vienna," said he. "Be off!" But Haydn, after
coming so far, was not to be dismissed so unceremoniously. He
smuggled himself into the choir, pleaded with the solo singer of
the day to be allowed to act as his deputy, and, when this was
refused, snatched the music from the singer's hand, and took up
the solo at the right moment with such success that "all the
choir held their breath to listen." At the close of the service
the choirmaster sent for him, and, apologizing for his previous
rude behaviour, invited him to his house for the day. The
invitation extended to a week, and Haydn returned to Vienna with
money enough--the result of a subscription among the choir--to
serve his immediate needs.

An Unconditional Loan

But it would have been strange if, in a musical city like Vienna,
a youth of Haydn's gifts had been allowed to starve. Slowly but
surely he made his way, and people who could help began to hear
of him. The most notable of his benefactors at this time was a
worthy tradesman named Buchholz, who made him an unconditional
loan of 150 florins. An echo of this unexpected favour is heard
long years after in the composer's will, where we read: "To
Fraulein Anna Buchholz, 100 florins, inasmuch as in my youth her
grandfather lent me 150 florins when I greatly needed them,
which, however, I repaid fifty years ago."

"Attic" Studies

One hundred and fifty florins was no great sum assuredly, but at
this time it was a small fortune to Haydn. He was able to do a
good many things with it. First of all, he took a lodging for
himself--another attic! Spangler had been very kind, but he could
not give the young musician the privacy needed for study. It
chanced that there was a room vacant, "nigh to the gods and the
clouds," in the old Michaelerhaus in the Kohlmarkt, and Haydn
rented it. It was not a very comfortable room--just big enough to
allow the poor composer to turn about. It was dimly lighted. It
"contained no stove, and the roof was in such bad repair that the
rain and the snow made unceremonious entry and drenched the young
artist in his bed. In winter the water in his jug froze so hard
during the night that he had to go and draw direct from the
well." For neighbours he had successively a journeyman printer, a
footman and a cook. These were not likely to respect his desire
for quiet, but the mere fact of his having a room all to himself
made him oblivious of external annoyances. As he expressed it,
he was "too happy to envy the lot of kings." He had his old,
worm-eaten spinet, and his health and his good spirits; and
although he was still poor and unknown, he was "making himself
all the time," like Sir Walter Scott in Liddesdale.

An Early Composition

Needless to say, he was composing a great deal. Much of his
manuscript was, of course, torn up or consigned to the flames,
but one piece of work survived. This was his first Mass in F (No.
11 in Novello's edition), erroneously dated by some writers 1742.
It shows signs of immaturity and inexperience, but when Haydn in
his old age came upon the long-forgotten score he was so far from
being displeased with it that he rearranged the music, inserting
additional wind parts. One biographer sees in this procedure "a
striking testimony to the genius of the lad of eighteen." We need
not read it in that way. It rather shows a natural human
tenderness for his first work, a weakness, some might call it,
but even so, more pardonable than the weakness--well illustrated
by some later instances--of hunting out early productions and
publishing them without a touch of revision.


It was presumably by mere chance that in that same rickety
Michaelerhaus there lived at this date not only the future
composer of "The Creation," but the Scribe of the eighteenth
century, the poet and opera librettist, Metastasio. Born in 1698,
the son of humble parents, this distinguished writer had, like
Haydn, suffered from "the eternal want of pence." A precocious
boy, he had improvised verses and recited them on the street, and
fame came to him only after long and weary years of waiting. In
1729 he was appointed Court poet to the theatre at Vienna, for
which he wrote several of his best pieces, and when he made
Haydn's acquaintance his reputation was high throughout the whole
of Europe. Naturally, he did not live so near the clouds as
Haydn--his rooms were on the third story--but he heard somehow of
the friendless, penniless youth in the attic, and immediately
resolved to do what he could to further his interests. This, as
events proved, was by no means inconsiderable.

A Noble Pupil

Metastasio had been entrusted with the education of Marianne von
Martinez, the daughter of a Spanish gentleman who was Master of
the Ceremonies to the Apostolic Nuncio. The young lady required a
musicmaster, and the poet engaged Haydn to teach her the
harpsichord, in return for which service he was to receive free
board. Fraulein Martinez became something of a musical celebrity.
When she was only seventeen she had a mass performed at St
Michael's Church, Vienna. She was a favourite of the Empress
Maria Theresa, and is extolled by Burney--who speaks of her
"marvelous accuracy" in the writing of English--as a singer and a
player, almost as highly as Gluck's niece. Her name finds a place
in the biographies of Mozart, who, at her musical receptions,
used to take part with her in duets of her own composition.
Several of her manuscripts are still in the possession of the
Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. Something of her musical
distinction ought certainly to be attributed to Haydn, who gave
her daily lessons for three years, during which time he was
comfortably housed with the family.


It was through Metastasio, too, that he was introduced to Niccolo
Porpora, the famous singing-master who taught the great
Farinelli, and whose name is sufficiently familiar from its
connection with an undertaking set on foot by Handel's enemies in
London. Porpora seems at this time to have ruled Vienna as a sort
of musical director and privileged censor, to have been, in fact,
what Rossini was for many years in Paris. He was giving lessons
to the mistress of Correr, the Venetian ambassador--a "rare
musical enthusiast"--and he employed Haydn to act as accompanist
during the lessons.

Menial Duties

We get a curious insight into the social conditions of the
musicians of this time in the bearing of Haydn towards Porpora
and his pupil. That Haydn should become the instructor of
Fraulein Martinez in no way compromised his dignity; nor can any
reasonable objection be raised against his filling the post of,
accompanist to the ambassador's mistress. But what shall be said
of his being transported to the ambassador's summer quarters at
Mannersdorf, and doing duty there for six ducats a month and his
board--at the servants' table? The reverend author of Music and
Morals answers by reminding us that in those days musicians were
not the confidential advisers of kings like Wagner, rich banker's
sons like Meyerbeer, private gentlemen like Mendelssohn, and
members of the Imperial Parliament like Verdi. They were "poor
devils" like Haydn. Porpora was a great man, no doubt, in his own
metier. But it is surely odd to hear of Haydn acting the part of
very humble servant to the singing-master; blackening his boots
and trimming his wig, and brushing his coat, and running his
errands, and playing his accompaniments! Let us, however,
remember Haydn's position and circumstances. He was a poor man.
He had never received any regular tuition such as Handel received
from Zachau, Mozart from his father, and Mendelssohn from Zelter.
He had to pick up his instruction as he went along; and if he
felt constrained to play the lackey to Porpora, it was only with
the object of receiving in return something which would help to
fit him for his profession. As he naively said, "I improved
greatly in singing, composition, and Italian." [The relations of
Haydn and Porpora are sketched in George Sand's "Consuelo."]

Emanuel Bach

In the meantime he was carrying on his private studies with the
greatest assiduity. His Fux and his Mattheson had served their
turn, and he had now supplemented them by the first six Clavier
Sonatas of Philipp Emanuel Bach, the third son of the great
composer. The choice may seem curious when we remember that Haydn
had at his hand all the music of Handel and Bach, and the masters
of the old contrapuntal school. But it was wisely made. The
simple, well-balanced form of Emanuel Bach's works "acted as well
as a master's guidance upon him, and led him to the first steps
in that style of writing which was afterwards one of his greatest
glories." The point is admirably put by Sir Hubert Parry. He
says, in effect, that what Haydn had to build upon, and what was
most congenial to him, through his origin and circumstances, was
the popular songs and dances of his native land, which, in the
matter of structure, belong to the same order of art as
symphonies and sonatas; and how this kind of music could be made
on a grander scale was what he wanted to discover. The music of
Handel and Bach leaned too much towards the style of the choral
music and organ music of the church to serve him as a model. For
their art was essentially contrapuntal--the combination of
several parts each of equal importance with the rest, each in a
sense pursuing its own course. In modern music the essential
principle is harmonic: the chords formed by the combination of
parts are derived and developed in reference to roots and keys.
In national dances few harmonies are used, but they are arranged
on the same principles as the harmonies of a sonata or a
symphony; and "what had to be found out in order to make grand
instrumental works was how to arrange more harmonies with the
same effect of unity as is obtained on a small scale in dances
and national songs." Haydn, whose music contains many
reminiscences of popular folk-song, had in him the instinct for
this kind of art; and the study of Philipp Emanuel's works taught
him how to direct his energies in the way that was most agreeable
to him.

A Disciple of Emanuel Bach

Although much has been written about Emanuel Bach, it is probable
that the full extent of his genius remains yet to be recognized.
He was the greatest clavier player, teacher and accompanist of
his day; a master of form, and the pioneer of a style which was a
complete departure from that of his father. Haydn's enthusiasm
for him can easily be explained. "I did not leave the clavier
till I had mastered all his six sonatas," he says, "and those who
know me well must be aware that I owe very much to Emanuel Bach,
whose works I understand and have thoroughly studied. Emanuel
Bach himself once complimented me on this fact." When Haydn began
to make a name Bach hailed him with delight as a disciple, and
took occasion to send him word that, "he alone had thoroughly
comprehended his works and made a proper use of them."

This is a sufficient answer to the absurd statement which has
been made, and is still sometimes repeated, that Bach was jealous
of the young composer and abused him to his friends. A writer in
the European Magazine for October 1784, says that Bach was
"amongst the number of professors who wrote against our rising
author." He mentions others as doing the same thing, and then
continues: "The only notice Haydn took of their scurrility and
abuse was to publish lessons written in imitation of the several
styles of his enemies, in which their peculiarities were so
closely copied and their extraneous passages (particularly those
of Bach of Hamburg) so inimitably burlesqued, that they all felt
the poignancy of his musical wit, confessed its truth, and were
silent." Further on we read that the sonatas of Ops. 13 and 14
were "expressly composed in order to ridicule Bach of Hamburg."
All this is manifestly a pure invention. Many of the
peculiarities of Emanuel Bach's style are certainly to be found
in Haydn's works--notes wide apart, pause bars, surprise
modulations, etc., etc.--but if every young composer who adopts
the tricks of his model is to be charged with caricature, few can
hope to escape. The truth is, of course, that every man's style,
whether in music or in writing, is a "mingled yarn" of many
strands, and it serves no good purpose to unravel it, even if we

Violin Studies

Haydn's chief instrument was the clavier, but in addition to that
he diligently practiced the violin. It was at this date that he
took lessons on the latter instrument from "a celebrated
virtuoso." The name is not mentioned, but the general opinion is
that Dittersdorf was the instructor. This eminent musician
obtained a situation as violinist in the Court Orchestra at
Vienna in 1760; and, curiously enough, after many years of
professional activity, succeeded Haydn's brother, Michael, as
Capellmeister to the Bishop of Groswardein in Hungary. He wrote
an incredible amount of music, and his opera, "Doctor and
Apotheker," by which he eclipsed Mozart at one time, has survived
up to the present. Whether or not he gave Haydn lessons on the
violin, it is certain that the pair became intimate friends, and
had many happy days and some practical jokes together. One story
connected with their names sounds apocryphal, but there is no
harm in quoting it. Haydn and Dittersdorf were strolling down a
back street when they heard a fiddler scraping away in a little
beer cellar. Haydn, entering, inquired, "Whose minuet is that you
are playing?" "Haydn's," answered the fiddler. "It's a--bad
minuet," replied Haydn, whereupon the enraged player turned upon
him and would have broken his head with the fiddle had not
Dittersdorf dragged him away.

Attempts at Programme Music

It seems to have been about this time--the date, in fact, was
1751--that Haydn, still pursuing his serenading practices,
directed a performance of a quintet of his own composition under
the windows of Felix Kurz, a well-known Viennese comedian and
theatrical manager. According to an old writer, Kurz amused the
public by his puns, and drew crowds to his theatre by his
originality and by good opera-buffas. He had, moreover, a handsome
wife, and "this was an additional reason for our nocturnal
adventurers to go and perform their serenades under the
harlequin's windows." The comedian was naturally flattered by
Haydn's attention. He heard the music, and, liking it, called the
composer into the house to show his skill on the clavier. Kurz
appears to have been an admirer of what we would call "programme"
music. At all events he demanded that Haydn should give him a
musical representation of a storm at sea. Unfortunately, Haydn
had never set eyes on the "mighty monster," and was hard put to
it to describe what he knew nothing about. He made several
attempts to satisfy Kurz, but without success. At last, out of
all patience, he extended his hands to the two ends of the
harpsichord, and, bringing them rapidly together, exclaimed, as
he rose from the instrument, "The devil take the tempest."
"That's it! That's it!" cried the harlequin, springing upon his
neck and almost suffocating him. Haydn used to say that when he
crossed the Straits of Dover in bad weather, many years
afterwards, he often smiled to himself as he thought of the
juvenile trick which so delighted the Viennese comedian.

His First Opera

But the comedian wanted more from Haydn than a tempest on the
keyboard. He had written the libretto of an opera, "Der Neue
Krumme Teufel," and desired that Haydn should set it to music.
The chance was too good to be thrown away, and Haydn proceeded to
execute the commission with alacrity, not a little stimulated,
doubtless, by the promise of 24 ducats for the work. There is a
playfulness and buoyancy about much of Haydn's music which seems
to suggest that he might have succeeded admirably in comic opera,
and it is really to be regretted that while the words of "Der
Neue Krumme Teufel" have been preserved, the music has been lost.
It would have been interesting to see what the young composer
had made of a subject which--from Le Sage's "Le Diable Boiteux"
onwards--has engaged the attention of so many playwrights and
musicians. The opera was produced at the Stadt Theatre in the
spring of 1752, and was frequently repeated not only in Vienna,
but in Berlin, Prague, Saxony and the Breisgau.

An Aristocratic Appointment

An event of this kind must have done something for Haydn's
reputation, which was now rapidly extending. Porpora seems also
to have been of no small service to him in the way of introducing
him to aristocratic acquaintances. At any rate, in 1755, a
wealthy musical amateur, the Baron von Furnberg, who frequently
gave concerts at his country house at Weinzierl, near Vienna,
invited him to take the direction of these performances and
compose for their programmes. It was for this nobleman that he
wrote his first string quartet, the one in B flat beginning--

[figure: a musical score excerpt]

This composition was rapidly followed by seventeen other works
of the same class, all written between 1755 and 1756.

Taken for an Impostor

Haydn's connection with Furnberg and the success of his
compositions for that nobleman at once gave him a distinction
among the musicians and dilettanti of Vienna. He now felt
justified in increasing his fees, and charged from 2 to 5 florins
for a month's lessons. Remembering the legend of his unboylike
fastidiousness, and the undoubted nattiness of his later years,
it is curious to come upon an incident of directly opposite
tendency. A certain Countess von Thun, whose name is associated
with Beethoven, Mozart and Gluck, met with one of his clavier
sonatas in manuscript, and expressed a desire to see him. When
Haydn presented himself, the countess was so struck by his shabby
appearance and uncouth manners that it occurred to her he must be
an impostor! But Haydn soon removed her doubts by the pathetic
and realistic account which he gave of his lowly origin and his
struggles with poverty, and the countess ended by becoming his
pupil and one of his warmest friends.

A Count's Capellmeister

Haydn is said to have held for a time the post of organist to the
Count Haugwitz; but his first authenticated fixed engagement
dates from 1759, when, through the influence of Baron Furnberg,
he was appointed Capellmeister to the Bohemian Count Morzin. This
nobleman, whose country house was at Lukavec, near Pilsen, was a
great lover of music, and maintained a small, well-chosen
orchestra of some sixteen or eighteen performers. It was for him
that Haydn wrote his first Symphony in D--

[Figure: a musical score excerpt]

Falls in Love

We now approach an interesting event in Haydn's career. In the
course of some banter at the house of Rogers, Campbell the poet
once remarked that marriage in nine cases out of ten looks like
madness. Haydn's case was not the tenth. His salary from Count
Morzin was only 20 pounds with board and lodging; he was not
making anything substantial by his compositions; and his teaching
could not have brought him a large return. Yet, with the
proverbial rashness of his class, he must needs take a wife, and
that, too, in spite, of the fact that Count Morzin never kept a
married man in his service! "To my mind," said Mozart, "a
bachelor lives only half a life." It is true enough; but Mozart
had little reason to bless the "better half," while Haydn had
less. The lady with whom he originally proposed to brave the
future was one of his own pupils--the younger of the two
daughters of Barber Keller, to whom he had been introduced when
he was a chorister at St Stephen's. According to Dies, Haydn had
lodged with the Kellers at one time. The statement is doubtful,
but in any case his good stars were not in the ascendant when it
was ordained that he should marry into this family.


It was, as we have said, with the younger of the two daughters
that he fell in love. Unfortunately, for some unexplained reason,
she took the veil, and said good-bye to a wicked world. Like the
hero in "Locksley Hall," Haydn may have asked himself, "What is
that which I should do?" But Keller soon solved the problem for
him. "Barbers are not the most diffident people of the world," as
one of the race remarks in "Gil Blas," and Keller was assuredly
not diffident. "Never mind," he said to Haydn, "you shall have
the other." Haydn very likely did not want the other, but,
recognizing with Dr Holmes's fashionable lady that "getting
married is like jumping overboard anyway you look at it," he
resolved to risk it and take Anna Maria Keller for better or

His Wife

The marriage was solemnized at St Stephen's on November 26, 1760,
when the bridegroom was twenty-nine and the bride thirty-two.
There does not seem to have been much affection on either side to
start with; but Haydn declared that he had really begun to "like"
his wife, and would have come to entertain a stronger feeling for
her if she had behaved in a reasonable way. It was, however, not
in Anna Maria's nature to behave in a reasonable way. The
diverting Marville says that the majority of women married to men
of genius are so vain of the abilities of their husbands that
they are frequently insufferable. Frau Haydn was not a woman of
that kind. As Haydn himself sadly remarked, it did not matter to
her whether he were a cobbler or an artist. She used his
manuscript scores for curling papers and underlays for the
pastry, and wrote to him when he was in England for money to buy
a "widow's home." He was even driven to pitifully undignified
expedients to protect his hard-earned cash from her extravagant

There are not many details of Anna Maria's behaviour, for Haydn
was discreetly reticent about his domestic affairs; and only two
references can be found in all his published correspondence to
the woman who had rendered his life miserable. But these
anecdotes tell us enough. For a long time he tried making the
best of it; but making the best of it is a poor affair when it
comes to a man and woman living together, and the day arrived
when the composer realized that to live entirely apart was the
only way of ending a union that had proved anything but a
foretaste of heaven. Frau Haydn looked to spend her last years in
a "widow's home" provided for her by the generosity of her
husband, but she predeceased him by nine years, dying at Baden,
near Vienna, on the 20th of March 1800. With this simple
statement of facts we may finally dismiss a matter that is best
left to silence--to where "beyond these voices there is peace."

Whether Count Morzin would have retained the services of Haydn in
spite of his marriage is uncertain. The question was not put to
the test, for the count fell into financial embarrassments and
had to discharge his musical establishment. A short time before
this, Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy had heard some of Haydn's
compositions when on a visit to Morzin, and, being favourably
impressed thereby, he resolved to engage Haydn should an
opportunity ever present itself. The opportunity had come, and
Haydn entered the service of a family who were practically his
life-long patrons, and with whom his name must always be
intimately associated.



The Esterhazy Family--Haydn's Agreement--An "Upper Servant"?--
Dependence in the Order of Nature--Material and Artistic
Advantages of the Esterhazy Appointment--Some Disadvantages--
Capellmeister Werner--A Posthumous Tribute--Esterhazy "The
Magnificent"--Compositions for Baryton--A Reproval--Operettas and
other Occasional Works--First Symphonies.

The Esterhazy Family

As Haydn served the Esterhazys uninterruptedly for the long
period of thirty years, a word or two about this distinguished
family will not be out of place. At the present time the
Esterhazy estates include twenty-nine lordships, with twenty-one
castles, sixty market towns, and 414 villages in Hungary, besides
lordships in Lower Austria and a county in Bavaria. This alone
will give some idea of the power and importance of the house to
which Haydn was attached. The family was divided into three main
branches, but it is with the Frakno or Forchtenstein line that we
are more immediately concerned. Count Paul Esterhazy of Frakno
(1635-1713) served in the Austrian army with such distinction as
to gain a field-marshal's baton at the age of thirty. He was the
first prince of the name, having been ennobled in 1687 for his
successes against the Turks and his support of the House of
Hapsburg. He was a musical amateur and a performer of some
ability, and it was to him that the family owed the existence of
the Esterhazy private chapel, with its solo singers, its chorus,
and its orchestra. Indeed, it was this prince who, in 1683, built
the splendid Palace of Eisenstadt, at the foot of the Leitha
mountains, in Hungary, where Haydn was to spend so many and such
momentous years.

When Prince Paul died in 1713, he was succeeded by his son,
Joseph Anton, who acquired "enormous wealth," and raised the
Esterhazy family to "the height of its glory." This nobleman's
son, Paul Anton, was the reigning prince when Haydn was called to
Eisenstadt in 1761. He was a man of fifty, and had already a
brilliant career behind him. Twice in the course of the Seven
Years' War he had "equipped and maintained during a whole
campaign a complete regiment of hussars for the service of his
royal mistress," and, like his distinguished ancestor, he had
been elevated to the dignity of field-marshal. He was
passionately devoted to the fine arts, more particularly to
music, and played the violin with eminent skill. Under his reign
the musical establishment at Eisenstadt enjoyed a prosperity
unknown at any other period of its history.

Haydn's Agreement

As there will be something to say about the terms and nature of
Haydn's engagement with Prince Paul Anton, it may be well to
quote the text of the agreement which he was required to sign. It
was in these terms:


"This day (according to the date hereto appended) Joseph Heyden
[sic] native of Rohrau, in Austria, is accepted and appointed
Vice-Capellmeister in the service of his Serene Highness, Paul
Anton, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, of Esterhazy and
Galantha, etc., etc., with the conditions here following:

"1st. Seeing that the Capellmeister at Eisenstadt, by name
Gregorius Werner, having devoted many years of true and faithful
service to the princely house, is now, on account of his great
age and infirmities, unfit to perform the duties incumbent on
him, therefore the said Gregorious Werner, in consideration of
his long services, shall retain the post of Capellmeister, and
the said Joseph Heyden as Vice-Capellmeister shall, as far as
regards the music of the choir, be subordinate to the
Capellmeister and receive his instructions. But in everything
else relating to musical performances, and in all that concerns
the orchestra, the Vice-Capellmeister shall have the sole

"2nd. The said Joseph Heyden shall be considered and treated as a
member of the household. Therefore his Serene Highness is
graciously pleased to place confidence in his conducting himself
as becomes an honourable official of a princely house. He must be
temperate, not showing himself overbearing towards his musicians,
but mild and lenient, straightforward and composed. It is
especially to be observed that when the orchestra shall be
summoned to perform before company, the Vice-Capellmeister and
all the musicians shall appear in uniform, and the said Joseph
Heyden shall take care that he and all members of his orchestra
do follow the instructions given, and appear in white stockings,
white linen, powdered, and either with a pig-tail or a tie-wig.

"3rd. Seeing that the other musicians are referred for directions
to the said Vice-Capellmeister, therefore he should take the more
care to conduct himself in an exemplary manner, abstaining from
undue familiarity, and from vulgarity in eating, drinking and
conversation, not dispensing with the respect due to him, but
acting uprightly and influencing his subordinates to preserve
such harmony as is becoming in them, remembering how displeasing
the consequences of any discord or dispute would be to his Serene

"4th. The said Vice-Capellmeister shall be under an obligation to
compose such music as his Serene Highness may command, and
neither to communicate such compositions to any other person, nor
to allow them to be copied, but to retain them for the absolute
use of his Highness, and not to compose anything for any other
person without the knowledge and permission of his Highness.

"5th. The said Joseph Heyden shall appear in the ante-chamber
daily, before and after mid-day, and inquire whether his Highness
is pleased to order a performance of the orchestra. After receipt
of his orders be shall communicate them to the other musicians
and shall take care to be punctual at the appointed time, and to
ensure punctuality in his subordinates, making a note of those
who arrive late or absent themselves altogether.

"6th. Should any quarrel or cause of complaint arise, the
Vice-Capellmeister shall endeavour to arrange it, in order that
his Serene Highness may not be incommoded with trifling disputes;
but should any more serious difficulty occur, which the said
Joseph Heyden is unable to set right, his Serene Highness must
then be respectfully called upon to decide the matter.

"7th. The said Vice-Capellmeister shall take careful charge of
all music and musical instruments, and shall be responsible for
any injury that may occur to them from carelessness or neglect.

"8th. The said Joseph Heyden shall be obliged to instruct the
female vocalists, in order that they may not forget in the
country what they had been taught with much trouble and expense
in Vienna, and, as the said Vice-Capellmeister is proficient on
various instruments, he shall take care to practice himself on
all that he is acquainted with.

"9th. A copy of this agreement and instructions shall be given to
the said Vice-Capellmeister and to his subordinates, in order
that he may be able to hold them to their obligations therein
laid down.

"10th. It is considered unnecessary to detail the services required
of the said Joseph Heyden more particularly, since his Serene
Highness is pleased to hope that he will of his own free will
strictly observe not only these regulations, but all others that may
from time to time be made by his Highness, and that he will place
the orchestra on such a footing, and in such good order, that he
may bring honour upon himself, and deserve the further favour of the
Prince, his master, who thus confides in his zeal and discretion.

"11th. A salary of four hundred florins to be received quarterly
is hereby bestowed upon the said Vice-Capellmeister by his Serene

"12th. In addition, the said Joseph Heyden shall have board at
the officers' table, or half a gulden a day in lieu thereof.

"13th. Finally, this agreement shall hold good for at least three
years from May 1st, 1761, with the further condition that if at
the conclusion of this term the said Joseph Heyden shall desire
to leave the service, he shall notify his intention to his
Highness half-a-year beforehand.

"14th. His Serene Highness undertakes to keep Joseph Heyden in
his service during this time, and should he be satisfied with
him, he may look forward to being appointed Capellmeister. This,
however, must not be understood to deprive his Serene Highness of
the freedom to dismiss the said Joseph Heyden at the expiration
of the term, should he see fit to do so.

"Duplicate copies of this document shall be executed and

"Given at Vienna this 1st day of May 1761,

"Ad mandatum Celsissimi Principis.


An "Upper Servant"?

The situation indicated by this lengthy document has afforded
matter for a good deal of comment, and not a little foolish
writing. With some it is the old case of Porpora and the blacking
of the boots. Thus Miss Townsend remarks: "Our indignation is
roused at finding a great artist placed in the position of an
upper servant, and required to perform duties almost menial in their
nature." That is essentially a modern view. These things have to be
judged in relation to the ideas of the age. It was only a few years
before this that Johnson had contemptuously thrown away a pair of
boots which some pitying soul had placed at the door of his rooms
at Pembroke. The British mind likes to think of the sturdy
independence of the man who struck the death-blow at patronage in
literature. But Johnson himself had the meanest opinion of fiddlers.

Dependence in the Order of Nature

There was no talk in Haydn's native country of the dignity of
art, at any rate so far as musicians were concerned. When Mozart
first arrived in Vienna in 1781, he had to live with the
archbishop's household, and dine at the servants' table. Nay, he
was known as "the villain, the low fellow." And is it altogether
certain even now, in free Britain, that the parish organist
is very clearly distinguished in the squire's mind from the
peripatetic organ-grinder? Public opinion does not seem to have
commiserated Haydn on his position of dependence; and, as for
Haydn himself, he was no doubt only too glad to have an assured
income and a comfortable home. We may be certain that he did not
find the yoke unbearably galling. He was of humble birth; of a
family which must always have looked up to their "betters" as
unspeakably and immeasurably above them. Dependence was in the
order of nature, and a man of Haydn's good sense was the last in
the world to starve and fret because his freedom to practice his
art and develop his powers was complicated with a sort of feudal
service. Some strong souls may find an empty purse the truest
source of inspiration, as Mr Russell Lowell declares it to be;
but it is very much to be doubted whether a careful investigation
would show that a great man's best work was done with the wolf
at the door.

Material Advantages

Haydn had no self-pity: why should we pity him? He had free
quarters at the palace, with liberty to enjoy the company of his
wife when she chose to favour him--an event of rare occurrence.
His salary was raised from time to time. The old prince, his
first employer, paid him 400 florins; his successor increased the
amount first to 600 and then to 782 florins (78 pounds); and
finally he had 1400 florins, which last sum was continued to him
as a pension when he left the Esterhazy service. Although money
had a much higher purchasing value in those days, the figures
here quoted do not seem princely when we consider the extent and
nature of Haydn's duties, but to a man of Haydn's simple tastes
they would appear ample enough. At least, they would save him
from lying on straw and drinking bad whisky, which Wagner
regarded as among the things that are inimical to the creative

Artistic Advantages

These were the material advantages of the Eisenstadt appointment.
The artistic advantages were even more important, especially to a
young and inexperienced artist who, so far, had not enjoyed many
opportunities of practically testing his own work. Haydn had a
very good band always at his disposal, the members of which were
devoted to him. If he wrote part of a symphony over-night he
could try it in the morning, prune, revise, accept, reject. Many
a young composer of to-day would rejoice at such an opportunity,
as indeed Haydn himself rejoiced at it. "I not only had the
encouragement of constant approval," he says, speaking of this
period of his career, "but as conductor of an orchestra I could
make experiments, observe what produced an effect and what
weakened it, and was thus in a position to improve, alter, make
additions and omissions, and be as bold as I pleased."

Some Disadvantages

No doubt there were some disadvantages in counterpoise. After the
gay life of Vienna, Eisenstadt must have been dull enough, and
there is plenty of evidence to show that the young artist
occasionally fell into the dumps. In one letter he complains that
he "never can obtain leave, even for four-and-twenty hours, to go
to Vienna." In another he writes: "I am doomed to stay at home.
What I lose by so doing you can well imagine. It is indeed sad
always to be a slave, but Providence wills it so. I am a poor
creature, plagued perpetually by hard work, and with few hours
for recreation." Haydn clearly recognized the necessities of the
artist. A quiet life is all very well, but no man ever yet
greatly touched the hearts of men if he kept himself too strictly
segregated from his kind. Music, like every other art, would
perish in a hot-house. Reckon up to-day the composers who are
really a force in the emotional life of the people, and ask which
of them was reared in the serene, cold air of the academies. A
composer to be great must live with his fellows, and open his
soul to human affluences. "I was cut off from the world," says
Haydn. "There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was
forced to become original." But his originality was that of an
active mind working upon material already stored, and the store
had to be replenished in occasional excursions, all too few, from
the palace.

The Eisenstadt appointment, then, provided for Haydn's material
wants, and gave him opportunities for the peaceful pursuit of his
studies, for experiment and self-criticism. He was treated with
great consideration by the Esterhazys, and, menial or not, he
lived on their bounty and in the friendliest relations with them.

Capellmeister Werner

From his agreement with Prince Esterhazy it will have been
gathered that, though virtually entrusted with the direction of
the Eisenstadt musical establishment, Haydn was really under the
control of an old official. Such arrangements seldom work well.
The retention of Joseph Werner was presumably due to the
thoughtful kindness of his noble patron, but it was bound to
lead to awkward situations. Werner had served the Esterhazys for
thirty-two years, and could not be expected to placidly accept
his supersession by a young and as yet almost unknown musician.
True, he was not a very distinguished man himself. He had
composed a large amount of music, chiefly sacred, including
thirty-nine masses and twelve "Oratorios for Good Friday,"
besides some grotesque pieces intended as burlesques of the
musical life of Vienna. Not one of his works has any real musical
value; but, as is usually the case with the talent which stops
short of genius, he thought a great deal of himself, and was
inclined to look down upon Haydn as an interloper, unskilled
in that rigid counterpoint which was the "heaven's law" of
the old-time composer. Indeed, he described his associate as
"a mere fop" and "a scribbler of songs."

A Posthumous Tribute

It is but fair to Haydn to say that, if he did not suffer his
nominal superior gladly, he at least treated him with respect and
a certain deference. He did more. Werner died in 1766, having
thus seen only five years of the new order of things, but Haydn's
regard for his memory was such that, so late as 1804, he
published six of his fugues arranged as string quartets, "out of
sincere esteem for this celebrated master." A kindness of heart
and a total absence of professional jealousy characterized Haydn
throughout his whole career, and never more than in this action.

Esterhazy "the Magnificent"

The composer had been rather less than a twelvemonth in his
service when Prince Paul Anton died on the 18th of March 1762. He
was succeeded by his brother Nicolaus, a sort of glorified "Grand
Duke" of Chandos, who rejoiced in the soubriquet of "The
Magnificent." He loved ostentation and glitter above all things,
wearing at times a uniform bedecked with diamonds. But he loved
music as well. More, he was a performer himself, and played the
baryton, a stringed instrument not unlike the viola-da-gamba, in
general use up to the end of the eighteenth century. Haydn
naturally desired to please his prince, and being perpetually
pestered to provide new works for the noble baryton player, he
thought it would flatter him if he himself learnt to handle the
baryton. This proved an unfortunate misreading of "The
Magnificent's" character, for when Haydn at length made his debut
with the instrument, the prince lost no time in letting him
understand that he disapproved of such rivalry. An amusing story
is told of Kraft, the Eisenstadt 'cellist, at this time, who
occasionally played the second baryton. Kraft presented the
prince with a composition into which he had introduced a solo for
himself as second baryton. The prince asked to see the part, and
proceeded to try it over. Coming to a difficult passage, he
exclaimed indignantly: "For the future, write solos only for my
part; it is no credit to you to play better than I; it is your

Compositions for Baryton

Haydn, so far as we can make out, never essayed the baryton
again, but he wrote a surprising amount of music for it,
considering its complicated mechanism and the weakness of its
tone. In the catalogue of his works there are no fewer than 175
compositions for the instrument--namely, six duets for two
barytons, twelve sonatas for baryton and violoncello, twelve
divertimenti for two barytons and bass, and 125 divertimenti for
baryton, viola and violoncello; seventeen so-called "cassations";
and three concertos for baryton, with accompaniment of two
violins and bass. There is no need to say anything about these
compositions, inasmuch as they have gone to oblivion with the
instrument which called them into being. At the best they can
never have been of much artistic importance.

A Reproval

A new epoch began at Eisenstadt with the rule of Prince Nicolaus.
He was a man of unbounded energy himself, and he expected
everybody in his service to be energetic too. There is nothing to
suggest that Haydn neglected any of his routine duties, which
certainly gave him abundant opportunity to "break the legs of
time," but once, at least--in 1765--his employer taxed him with
lack of diligence in composition, as well as for failing to
maintain the necessary discipline among the musicians under his
charge. It is likely enough that Haydn was not a rigid
disciplinarian; but it must have been a mere whim on the part of
Prince Nicolaus to reprove him on the score of laziness in
composing. In any case, it seems to have been only a solitary
reproof. There is no evidence of its having been repeated, and we
may assume that even now it was not regarded as a very serious
matter, from the fact that three weeks after the prince was
requesting his steward to pay Haydn 12 ducats for three new
pieces, with which he was "very much pleased."


Life at Eisenstadt moved on in "calm peace and quiet," but now
and again it was stirred into special activity, when Haydn had to
put forth his efforts in various new directions. Such an occasion
came very early in his service of Prince Nicolaus, when that
pompous person made triumphant entry into Eisenstadt. The
festivities were on a regal scale and continued for a whole
month. A company of foreign players had been engaged to perform
on a stage erected in the large conservatory, and Haydn was
required to provide them with operettas. He wrote several works
of the kind, one of which, "La Marchesa Nepola," survives in the
autograph score. Later on, for the marriage of Count Anton, the
eldest son of Prince Nicolaus, in 1763, he provided a setting of
the story which Handel had already used for his "Acis and
Galatea." This work, which was performed by the Eisenstadt
Capelle, with the orchestra clad in a new uniform of crimson and
gold, bore the name of "Acide e Galatea." Portions of the score
still exist--a section of the overture, four arias, and a finale
quartet. The overture is described as being "in his own style,
fresh and cheerful, foreshadowing his symphonies. The songs are
in the Italian manner, very inferior in originality and
expression to Handel's music; the quartet is crude in form and
uninteresting in substance." [See Miss Townsend's Haydn, p. 44.]

It would seem rather ungracious, as it would certainly be
redundant to discuss these "occasional" works in detail. For one
thing, the material necessary to enable us to form a correct
estimate of Haydn's powers as a dramatic composer is wanting. The
original autograph of "Armida," first performed in 1783, is,
indeed, preserved. "Orfeo ed Euridice," written for the King's
Theatre in the Haymarket in 1791, but never staged, was printed
at Leipzig in 1806, and a fair idea of the general style of the
work may be obtained from the beautiful air, "Il pensier sta
negli oggetti," included in a collection entitled "Gemme
d'Antichita." But beyond these and the fragments previously
mentioned, there is little left to represent Haydn as a composer
of opera, the scores of most of the works written expressly for
Prince Esterhazy having been destroyed when the prince's private
theatre was burned down in 1779. What Haydn would have done for
opera if he had devoted his serious attention to it at any of the
larger theatres it is, of course, impossible to say. Judging from
what has survived of his work in this department, he was notable
for refinement rather than for dramatic power. We must, however,
remember the conditions under which he worked. He confessed
himself that his operas were fitted only for the small stage at
Esterhaz and "could never produce the proper effect elsewhere."
If he had written with a large stage in view, it may reasonably
be assumed that he would have written somewhat differently.

Occasional Works

In 1764 Prince Nicolaus made a journey to Frankfort for the
coronation of the Archduke Joseph as King of the Romans. After
the festivities connected with that imposing function were over
he extended his journey to Paris, where he created some sensation
by his extravagant displays of wealth and circumstance. During
the Prince's absence Haydn busied himself on a couple of
compositions intended to celebrate his home-coming. One was a Te
Deum, the other a cantata. The latter work is the more worthy of
remark, not because of its music, but because of the fulsomely
obsequious manner in which it celebrates the graces and virtues
of Nicolaus the Magnificent. The cantata is made up of choruses
and duets, a recitative and two arias. Parts of it were
afterwards employed in church services. The Te Deum is in C
major, and is for four voices with orchestra. It is interesting
as an early work, especially if we compare it with the greater Te
Deum in the same key composed in the year 1800.

First Symphonies

At this point a summary may perhaps be made of the compositions
written by Haydn during these five years a Eisenstadt. The list,
as given by Pohl, comprises, in addition to the works already
named, about thirty symphonies six string trios, a few
divertimenti in five parts, a piece for four violins and two
'celli, entitled "Echo," twelve minuets for orchestra, concertos,
trios, sonatas and variations for clavier, and, in vocal music, a
"Salve Regina" for soprano and alto, two violins and organ. It
would serve no useful purpose to deal with these works in detail.
The symphonies are, of course, the most important feature in the
list, but of these we shall speak generally when treating of
Haydn as the father of instrumental music. The first Symphony in
C Major, usually called "Le Midi," is of special interest.

[Figure: a musical score excerpt]

The autograph score, dated 1761, and preserved at Eisenstadt,
is superscribed, "In Nomine Domini," and closes with Haydn's
customary "Laus Deo" after the final signature The work is in
the usual four movements. The symphonies of this date included
also those known in England as "Le Matin" and "Le Soir," the
one beginning--

[Figure: a musical score excerpt] and the other--

[figure: a musical score excerpt]

Of the string quartets and other instrumental compositions of the
period nothing need be said. In all these the composer was simply
feeling his way towards a more perfect expression, and as few of
them are now performed, their interest for us is almost entirely



Haydn's Fame extending--Haydn and Mozart compared--Esterhaz--Its
Puppet Theatre--A Busy Life--Opera at Esterhaz--First Oratorio--
Opponents and Intriguers--"L'Isola Disabitata"--A Love Episode--
Correspondence with Artaria and Forster--Royal Dedicatees--
The "Seven Words"--The "Toy" and "Farewell" Symphonies.

To crowd the details of a professional career covering close upon
a quarter of a century into a single chapter would, in the case
of most of the great composers, be an altogether impossible task.
In Haydn's case the difficulty is to find the material for even
so slight a record. His life went on smoothly, almost sleepily,
as we should now think, in the service of his prince, without
personal incident and with next to no disturbance from the
outside world. If he had not been a genius of the first rank the
outside world would, in all probability, never have heard of his

Haydn's Fame extending

As it was, his fame was now manifestly spreading. Thus the
Wiener Diarum for 1766 includes him among the most distinguished
musicians of Vienna, and describes him as "the darling of our
nation." His amiable disposition, says the panegyrist, "speaks
through every one of his works. His music has beauty, purity,
and a delicate and noble simplicity which commends it to every
hearer. His cassations, quartets and trios may be compared to a
pure, clear stream of water, the surface now rippled by a gentle
breeze from the south, and anon breaking into agitated billows,
but without ever leaving its proper channel and appointed course.
His symphonies are full of force and delicate sympathy. In his
cantatas he shows himself at once captivating and caressing, and
in his minuets he is delightful and full of humour. In short,
Haydn is in music what Gellert is in poetry." This comparison
with Gellert, who died three years later, was at that date, as
Dr Pohl remarks, the most flattering that could well be made.
The simplicity and naturalness of Gellert's style were the very
antithesis of the pedantries and frigid formalities of the older
school; and just as he pioneered the way for the resuscitation of
German poetry under Goethe and Schiller, so Haydn may be said to
have prepared the path for Beethoven and the modern school.

Haydn and Mozart compared

Very likely it was this comparison of the magazine writer that
suggested Dittersdorf's remark to Joseph II in 1786, when the
emperor requested him to draw an analogy between Haydn's and
Mozart's chamber music. Dittersdorf shrewdly replied by asking
the emperor in his turn to draw a parallel between Gellert and
Klopstock; whereupon Joseph made answer by saying that both were
great poets, but that Klopstock's works required attentive study,
while Gellert's beauties were open to the first glance. The analogy,
Dittersdorf tells us, "pleased the emperor very much." Its point is,
however, not very clear--that is to say, it is not very clear
whether the emperor meant to compare Klopstock with Haydn and
Gellert with Mozart or vice versa, and whether, again, he regarded
it as more of a merit that the poet and the composer should require
study or be "open to the first glance." Joseph was certainly
friendly towards Mozart, but by all accounts he had no great love
for Haydn, to whose "tricks and nonsense" he made frequent sneering

The first noteworthy event of 1766 was the death of Werner, which
took place on March 5. It made no real difference to Haydn, who,
as we have seen, had been from the first, in effect, if not in
name, chief of the musical establishment; but it at least freed
him from sundry petty annoyances, and left him absolutely master
of the musical situation. Shortly after Werner's death, the
entire musical establishment at Eisenstadt was removed to the
prince's new palace of Esterhaz, with which Haydn was now to be
connected for practically the whole of his remaining professional


A great deal has been written about Esterhaz, but it is not
necessary that we should occupy much space with a description of
the castle and its surroundings. The palace probably owed its
inception to the prince's visit to Paris in 1764. At any rate, it
is in the French Renaissance style, and there is some
significance in the fact that a French traveller who saw it about
1782 described it as having no place but Versailles to compare
with it for magnificence. The situation--about three and a half
miles from Eisenstadt--was anything but suitable for an erection
of the kind, being in an unhealthy marsh and "quite out of the
world." But Prince Nicolaus had set his heart upon the scheme, as
Scott set his heart upon Abbotsford; and just as "Clarty Hole"
came in time to be "parked about and gated grandly," so Esterhaz,
after something like 11,000,000 gulden had been spent upon it,
emerged a veritable Versailles, with groves and grottoes,
hermitages and temples, summer-houses and hot-houses, and deer
parks and flower gardens. There were two theatres in the grounds:
one for operas and dramatic performances generally; the other
"brilliantly ornamented and furnished with large artistic
marionettes, excellent scenery and appliances."

A Puppet Theatre

It is upon the entertainments connected with the latter house
that the French traveller just mentioned chiefly dwells. "The
prince," he says, "has a puppet theatre which is certainly unique
in character. Here the grandest operas are produced. One knows
not whether to be amazed or to laugh at seeing 'Alceste,'
'Alcides,' etc., put on the stage with all due solemnity, and
played by puppets. His orchestra is one of the best I ever heard,
and the great Haydn is his court and theatre composer. He employs
a poet for his singular theatre, whose humour and skill in
suiting the grandest subjects for the stage, and in parodying the
gravest effects, are often exceedingly happy. He often engages a
troupe of wandering players for a month at a time, and he himself
and his retinue form the entire audience. They are allowed to
come on the stage uncombed, drunk, their parts not half learned,
and half-dressed. The prince is not for the serious and tragic,
and he enjoys it when the players, like Sancho Panza, give loose
reins to their humour."

Prince Nicolaus became so much attached to this superb creation
of his own, that he seldom cared to leave it. A small portion of
the Capelle remained at Eisenstadt to carry on the church service
there, but the prince seldom went to Eisenstadt, and more seldom
still to Vienna. Most of the Hungarian grandees liked nothing
better than to display their wealth in the Imperial city during
the winter season; but to Haydn's employer there was literally
"no place like home." When he did go to Vienna, he would often
cut short his visits in the most abrupt manner, to the great
confusion of his musicians and other dependants. These
eccentricities must have given some annoyance to Haydn, who,
notwithstanding his love of quiet and seclusion, often longed for
the change and variety of city life. It is said that he was
specially anxious to make a tour in Italy about this time, but
that ambition had, of necessity, to be abandoned.

A Busy Life

There was certainly plenty for him to do at Esterhaz--more than
he had ever been required to do at Eisenstadt. Royalties, nobles
and aristocrats were constantly at the palace; and music was one
of the chief diversions provided for them. The prince was very
proud of his musical establishment, and desired to have it
considered the best of its kind in Europe. The orchestra of the
opera was formed of members of the Capelle; "the singers were
Italian for the most part, engaged for one, two, or more years,
and the books of the words were printed. Numerous strolling
companies were engaged for shorter terms; travelling virtuosi
often played with the members of the band. Special days and hours
were fixed for chamber music, and for orchestral works; and in
the interval the singers, musicians and actors met at the cafe,
and formed, so to speak, one family." Something more than
creative genius was obviously required to direct the music of an
establishment of this kind. A talent for organization, an eye for
detail, tact in the management of players and singers--these
qualities were all indispensable for the performance of duties
such as Haydn had undertaken. That he possessed them we may
fairly assume from more than one circumstance. In the first
place, his employer was satisfied with him. He raised his salary,
listened attentively to all his suggestions, and did everything
that he could to retain his services. In the second place, his
band and singers were sincerely attached to him. They saw that he
had their interests, personal and professional, at heart, and
they "loved him like a father." The prince paid them well, and
several of them were sufficiently capable to receive appointments
afterwards in the Imperial Chapel. Pohl gives a list of the names
about this time, but, with one or two exceptions, they are quite
unfamiliar. J. B. Krumpholtz, the harpist, was engaged from 1773
to 1776, and Andreas Lidl, who played in London soon after
leaving the band, was in the service of the prince from 1769 to

The sum paid to Haydn at this date was not large as we should now
consider it, but it was sufficient to free him from financial
worry had it not been for the extravagance and bad management of
his wife. The prince gave him about 78 pounds, in addition
to which he had certain allowances in kind, and, as we have
already said, free quarters for himself and his wife when
she thought fit to stay with him. Probably, too, he was now
making something substantial by his compositions. Griesinger
declares that he had saved about 200 pounds before 1790,
the year when he started for London. If that be true, he must
have been very economical. His wife, we must remember, was making
constant calls upon him for money, and in addition he had to meet
the pressing demands of various poor relations. His
correspondence certainly does not tend to show that he was
saving, and we know that when he set out for London he had not
only to draw upon the generosity of his prince for the costs of
the journey, but had to sell his house to provide for his wife
until his return.

Opera at Esterhaz

It is time, however, to speak of some of Haydn's compositions
during this period. At Esterhaz he "wrote nearly all his operas,
most of his arias and songs, the music for the marionette
theatre--of which he was particularly fond--and the greater part
of his orchestral and chamber works." The dramatic works bulk
rather largely during the earlier part of the period. In 1769,
for example, when the whole musical establishment of Esterhaz
visited Vienna, a performance of his opera, "Lo Speciale," was
given at the house of Freiherr von Sommerau, and was repeated in
the form of a concert. Other works of the kind were performed at
intervals, particularly on festival occasions, but as most of
them have perished, and all of them are essentially pieces
d'occasion, it is unnecessary even to recall their names. In 1771
Haydn wrote a "Stabat Mater" and a "Salve Regina," and in 1773
followed the Symphony in C which bears the name of the Empress
Maria Theresa, having been written for the empress's visit to
Esterhaz in September of that year. In the course of the visit
Haydn was naturally introduced to Her Majesty, when, as we have
stated, he took occasion to remind her of the "good hiding" she
had ordered him to have at Schonbrunn during the old chorister
days at St Stephen's. "Well, you see, my dear Haydn," was the
reply, "the hiding has borne good fruit."

First Oratorio

In 1775 came his first oratorio, "Il Ritorno di Tobia." This is
an exceedingly interesting work. It was first performed under
Haydn's direction by the Tonkunstler Societat, with solo singers
from Esterbaz, at Vienna, on April 2, 1775. In 1784 Haydn added
two choruses, one a "Storm Chorus," which is sometimes confused
with the "Storm Chorus" (in the same key, but in triple time)
composed during his sojourn in London. It is from "Il Ritorno di
Tobia" that the so-called motet, "Insanae et Vanae Curae," is
adapted, and the "Storm Chorus" immediately follows a fine
soprano air in F minor and major, sung by Anna in the original
work, a portion of which forms the beautiful second subject (in
F) of the "Insanae." The original words of this chorus--"Svanisce
in un momento"--are to the effect that the soul threatens to
yield to the fury of its enemies, yet trust in God keeps one
steadfast. The music admirably reflects these contrasting
sentiments, first in the tumultuous D minor section, and then in
the tranquillity of the F major portion which follows, no less
than in the trustful quietude of the D major conclusion. Latin
words were adapted to three of the original choruses, but nothing
seems to be known as to the origin of the "Insanae" adaptation. A
full score of the motet, published by Breitkopf & Hartel in 1809,
was reviewed in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung of August 15,
1810, as if it were an entirely original work. The source of the
Latin words also remains a mystery. They were presumably put
together to fit Haydn's music, but by whom we have no means of

It is interesting to know that Haydn brought the score of his "Il
Ritorno di Tobia" with him to England on the occasion of his
first visit in 1791, probably with a view to its performance
here. Messrs Novello's private library contains an oblong volume
in the handwriting of Vincent Novello, in which he has copied
some numbers from "Tobia," including the air of Anna already
mentioned, but not the "Insanae" chorus. The inside cover of the
book bears the following note in Novello's hand, written, not
later than 1820, under the contents of the volume:

"The whole of the above are unpublished manuscripts, and were
copied from an extremely rare volume, containing the full
orchestral score of the entire oratorio, kindly lent to me for
the purpose by my friend, Mr Shield, who had obtained it from
Haydn himself during the visit of the latter to England in
the year 1791.--VINCENT NOVELLO, 240 Oxford St."

[See an interesting account of "Il Ritorno di Tobia" in The
Musical Times for September 1901, p. 600.]

Some of our musical societies in search of novelties might do
worse than revive this almost completely forgotten oratorio.
The airs are exceedingly melodious, and the choruses bold and
tuneful, with well-developed fugue subjects. The "Insanae"
already referred to is frequently performed.


In 1776 Haydn composed "La Vera Costanza" for the Court Theatre
of Vienna, but owing to certain intrigues it was declined by the
management and produced at Esterhaz instead. The opera was
subsequently staged at Vienna in 1790, and six of its airs and a
duet were published by Artaria. This incident makes it
sufficiently plain that Haydn had his opponents among the
musicians and critics of Vienna as well as elsewhere. Burney says
a friend in Hamburg wrote him in 1772 that "the genius, fine
ideas and fancy of Haydn, Ditters and Filitz were praised, but
their mixture of serious and comic was disliked, particularly as
there is more of the latter than the former in their works; and
as for rules, they knew but little of them." If we substitute
"humorous" for "comic," this may be allowed to fully represent
the views of the critics and amateurs of Vienna in regard to
Haydn's music.

And, unfortunately, the incident just mentioned was not a
solitary one. In 1778 Haydn applied for membership to the
Tonkunstler Societat, for whom he had in reality written his "Il
Ritorno di Tobia." One would have expected such a body to receive
him with open arms, but instead of that they exacted a sum of 300
florins on the ground of his non-residence in Vienna! Not only
so, but they would fain have brought him under a promise to
compose for them whenever they chose to ask him. This latter
condition Haydn felt to be impossible in view of his engagement
at Esterhaz, and he withdrew his admission fee. That the society
were not ashamed of themselves is obvious from a further episode.
Some years after this they desired Haydn to rearrange his "Tobia"
for a special performance, and when he demanded payment for his
trouble they promptly decided to produce Hasse's "Elena" instead.
Everything comes to the man who waits. After his second visit to
London the Tonkunstler Societat welcomed Haydn at a special
meeting, and with one voice appointed him "Assessor Senior" for
life. In return for this distinction he presented the society
with "The Creation" and "The Seasons," to which gifts, according
to Pohl, its prosperity is mainly owing.

"L'Isola Disabitata"

If Haydn was thus less highly appreciated at home than he
deserved to be, there were others who knew his sterling worth. In
1779 he composed one of his best operas, "L'Isola Disabitata,"
the libretto of which was by his old benefactor Metastasio, and
this work procured his nomination as a member of the Philharmonic
Society of Modena. The following extract of a letter written to
Artaria in May 1781 is interesting in this connection. He says:

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