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Haydn by J. Cuthbert Hadden

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now wrote to the composer for a copy of the score, so that he
might produce the oratorio in London. He was, however,
forestalled by Ashley, who was at that time giving performances
of oratorio at Covent Garden Theatre, and who brought forward the
new work on the 28th of March (1800). An amusing anecdote is told
in this connection. The score arrived by a King's messenger from
Vienna on Saturday, March 22, at nine o'clock in the evening. It
was handed to Thomas Goodwin, the copyist of the theatre, who
immediately had the parts copied out for 120 performers. The
performance was on the Friday evening following, and when Mr
Harris, the proprietor of the theatre, complimented all parties
concerned on their expedition, Goodwin, with ready wit, replied:
"Sir, we have humbly emulated a great example; it is not the
first time that the Creation has been completed in six days."
Salomon followed on the 21st of April with a performance at the
King's Theatre, Mara and Dussek taking the principal parts. Mara
remarked that it was the first time she had accompanied an

French Enthusiasm

Strange to say--for oratorio has never been much at home in
France--"The Creation" was received with immense enthusiasm in
Paris when it was first performed there in the summer of this
same year. Indeed, the applause was so great that the artists, in
a fit of transport, and to show their personal regard for the
composer, resolved to present him with a large gold medal. The
medal was designed by the famous engraver, Gateaux. It was
adorned on one side with a likeness of Haydn, and on the other
side with an ancient lyre, over which a flame flickered in the
midst of a circle of stars. The inscription ran: "Homage a Haydn
par les Musiciens qui ont execute l'oratorio de la Creation du
Monde au Theatre des Arts l'au ix de la Republique Francais ou
MDCCC." The medal was accompanied by a eulogistic address, to
which the recipient duly replied in a rather flowery epistle. "I
have often," he wrote, "doubted whether my name would survive me,
but your goodness inspires me with confidence, and the token of
esteem with which you have honoured me perhaps justifies my hope
that I shall not wholly die. Yes, gentlemen, you have crowned my
gray hairs, and strewn flowers on the brink of my grave." Seven
years after this Haydn received another medal from Paris--from
the Societe Academique des Enfants d'Apollon, who had elected him
an honorary member.

A second performance of "The Creation" took place in the French
capital on December 24, 1800, when Napoleon I. escaped the
infernal machine in the Rue Nicaise. It was, however, in England,
the home of oratorio, that the work naturally took firmest root.
It was performed at the Worcester Festival of 1800, at the
Hereford Festival of the following year, and at Gloucester in
1802. Within a few years it had taken its place by the side of
Handel's best works of the kind, and its popularity remained
untouched until Mendelssohn's "Elijah" was heard at Birmingham in
1847. Even now, although it has lost something of its old-time
vogue, it is still to be found in the repertory of our leading
choral societies. It is said that when a friend urged Haydn to
hurry the completion of the oratorio, he replied: "I spend much
time over it because I intend it to last a long time." How
delighted he would have been could he have foreseen that it would
still be sung and listened to with pleasure in the early years of
the twentieth century.

"The Creation" criticized

No one thinks of dealing critically with the music of "The
Messiah"; and it seems almost as thankless a task to take the
music of "The Creation" to pieces. Schiller called it a
"meaningless hotch-potch"; and even Beethoven, though he was not
quite innocent of the same thing himself, had his sardonic laugh
over its imitations of beasts and birds. Critics of the oratorio
seldom fail to point out these "natural history effects"--to
remark on "the sinuous motion of the worm," "the graceful
gamboling of the leviathan," the orchestral imitations of the
bellowing of the "heavy beasts," and such like. It is probably
indefensible on purely artistic grounds. But Handel did it in
"Israel in Egypt" and elsewhere. And is there not a crowing cock
in Bach's "St Matthew Passion"? Haydn only followed the example
of his predecessors.

Of course, the dispassionate critic cannot help observing that
there is in "The Creation" a good deal of music which is
finicking and something which is trumpery. But there is also much
that is first-rate. The instrumental representation of chaos, for
example, is excellent, and nothing in all the range of oratorio
produces a finer effect than the soft voices at the words, "And
the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Even the
fortissimo C major chord on the word "light," coming abruptly
after the piano and mezzoforte minor chords, is as dazzling to-day
as it was when first sung. It has been said that the work is
singularly deficient in sustained choruses. That is true, if we
are comparing it with the choruses of Handel's oratorios. But
Haydn's style is entirely different from that of Handel. His
choruses are designed on a much less imposing scale. They are
more reflective or descriptive, much less dramatic. It was not in
his way "to strike like a thunderbolt," as Mozart said of Handel.
The descriptive effects which he desired to introduce into his
orchestration made it necessary that he should throw the vocal
element into a simpler mould. Allowance must be made for these
differences. Haydn could never have written "The Messiah," but,
on the other hand, Handel could never have written "The

The chief beauty of Haydn's work lies in its airs for the solo
voices. While never giving consummate expression to real and deep
emotion, much less sustained thought, they are never wanting in
sincerity, and the melody and the style are as pure and good as
those of the best Italian writing for the stage. With all our
advance it is impossible to resist the freshness of "With verdure
clad," and the tender charm of such settings as that of "Softly
purling, glides on, thro' silent vales, the limpid brook." On the
whole, however, it is difficult to sum up a work like "The
Creation," unless, as has been cynically remarked, one is
prepared to call it great and never go to hear it. It is not
sublime, but neither is it dull. In another fifty years, perhaps,
the critic will be able to say that its main interest is largely
historic and literary. [See J. F. Runciman's Old Scores and New
Readings, where an admirably just and concise appreciation of
Haydn and "The Creation" may be read.]

A New Work

After such an unexpected success as that of "The Creation," it
was only in the nature of things that Haydn's friends should
persuade him to undertake the composition of a second work of the
kind. Van Swieten was insistent, and the outcome of his
importunity was "The Seasons." This work is generally classed as
an oratorio, but it ought more properly to be called a cantata,
being essentially secular as regards its text, though the form
and style are practically the same as those of "The Creation."
The libretto was again due to Swieten, who, of course, adapted
the text from James Thomson's well-known poem.

"The Seasons"

It would certainly have been a pity to lose such a fresh,
melodious little work as "The Seasons"; but it is only too
apparent that while there was no appreciable failure of Haydn's
creative force, his physical strength was not equal to the strain
involved by a composition of such length. In 1806, when Dies
found him rather weaker than usual, he dolorously remarked: "You
see it is all over with me. Eight years ago it was different, but
'The Seasons' brought on this weakness. I ought never to have
undertaken that work. It gave me the finishing stroke." He
appears to have started on the work with great reluctance and
with considerable distrust of his own powers, but once fairly
committed to the undertaking he entered into it with something of
his old animation, disputing so manfully with his librettist over
certain points in the text that a serious rupture between the two
was at one time imminent. The subject was probably not very
congenial to Haydn, who, as the years advanced, was more and more
inclined towards devotional themes. That at least seems to be the
inference to be drawn from the remark which he made to the
Emperor Francis on being asked which of his two oratorios he
himself preferred. "'The Creation,'" answered Haydn. "In 'The
Creation' angels speak and their talk is of God; in 'The Seasons'
no one higher speaks than Farmer Simon."

"The Seasons" criticized

But whether he liked the theme or not, in the end he produced a
work as fresh and genial and melodious as if it had been the work
of his prime. If anyone sees in it an evidence of weakness, he is
seeing only what he had expected to see. As Mr Rockstro remarks,
not a trace of the "failing power" of which the grand old man
complained is to be found in any part of it. It is a model of
descriptive, contemplative work, and must please by its
thoughtful beauty and illustrative power. True to Nature in its
minutest details, it yet never insults her by trivial attempts at
outward imitation where artistic suggestion of the hidden truth
was, possible. The "delicious softness" of the opening chorus,
and the perfection of rustic happiness portrayed in the song
which describes the joy of the "impatient husbandman" are alone
sufficient to prove that, whatever he may have thought about it
himself, Haydn's genius was not appreciably waning.

The first performance of "The Seasons" took place at the
Schwartzenburg Palace on the 24th of April 1801. It was repeated
twice within a week; and on the 29th of May the composer
conducted a grand public performance at the Redoutensaal. The
work proved almost as successful as "The Creation." Haydn was
enraptured with it, but he was never really himself again. As he
said, it gave him the finishing stroke.



Failing Strength--Last Works--A Scottish Admirer--Song
Accompaniments--Correspondence with George Thomson--Mrs Jordan--
A Hitch--A "Previous" Letter of Condolence--Eventide--Last Public
Appearance--The End--Funeral Honours--Desecration of Remains.

Failing Strength

Little is left to be told of the years which followed the
production of "The Seasons." Haydn never really recovered from
the strain which that last great effort of his genius had
entailed. From his letters and the reminiscences of his friends
we can read only too plainly the story of his growing infirmity.
Even in 1799 he spoke of the diminution of his mental powers, and
exclaimed: "Oh, God! how much yet remains to be done in this
splendid art, even by a man like myself!" In 1802 he wrote of
himself as "a gradually decaying veteran," enjoying only the
feeble health which is "the inseparable companion of a gray-haired
man of seventy." In December 1803 he made his last public exertion
by conducting the "Seven Words" for the hospital fund at the
Redoutensaal, and shortly afterwards wrote sadly of his "very
great weakness." In 1804 he was asked to direct a performance of
"The Creation," but declined on the score of failing strength.
Gradually he withdrew himself almost entirely from the outside
world, his general languor broken only by the visits of friends
and by moods of passing cheerfulness. Cherubini, the Abbe Vogler,
Pleyel, the Weber family, Hummel, Reichardt, and many others came
to see him. Visits from members of the Esterhazy family gave him
much pleasure. Mozart's widow also brought her son Wolfgang, to
beg his blessing on the occasion of his first public concert in
April 1805, for which he had composed a cantata in honour of
Haydn's seventy-third birthday. But the homage of friends and
admirers could not strengthen the weak hands or confirm the feeble
knees. In 1806 Dies notes that his once-gleaming eye has become
dull and heavy and his complexion sallow, while he suffers from
"headache, deafness, forgetfulness and other pains." His old
gaiety has completely gone, and even his friends have become a
bore to him. "My remaining days," he said to Dies, "must all be
spent in this lonely fashion.... I have many visitors, but it
confuses me so much to talk to them that at last I scarcely know
what I am saying and only long to be left in peace." The condition
of a man of naturally genial and optimistic temperament can easily
be imagined from all this--perhaps even more from the fact of his
having a card printed to hand to inquirers who called, bearing
the words:

Hin ist alle meine Kraft;
Alt and schwach bin ich.

[Fled for ever is my strength;
Old and weak am I.]

Last Works

But while Haydn was thus suffering from the natural disabilities
of his years, he was not wholly divorced from his art. It is true
that nothing of any real importance came from his pen after "The
Seasons," but a good deal of work of various kinds was done, some
of which it is impossible for the biographer to ignore. One
rather novel undertaking carries us back to the end of 1799,
about which time he was first asked by George Thomson, the friend
of Burns, to write accompaniments for certain Scottish songs to
be published in Thomson's well-known national collections. The
correspondence which followed is interesting in many ways, and as
it is not noticed in any other biography of Haydn, we propose to
deal with it here. [The letters passed through the
present writer's hands some five years ago, when he was preparing
his Life of George Thomson(1898). They are now in the British
Museum with the other Thomson correspondence.]

A Scottish Admirer

George Thomson engaged at one time or other the services of
Beethoven, Pleyel, Weber, Hummel, Bishop and Kozeluch. But Haydn
was his first love. A genius of the kind, he writes in 1811
"never before existed and probably never will be surpassed." He
is "the inimitable Haydn," the "delectable," the "father of us
all," and so on. On the other hand, Haydn was proud of what he
did for Thomson. "I boast of this work," he said, "and by it I
flatter myself my name will live in Scotland many years after my
death." Nay, if we may trust an authority cited by Thomson, so
highly did he think of "the symphonies and accompaniments which
he composed for my melodies as to have the original score of each
framed and hung all over the walls of his bedroom." Little wonder
that Thomson "loved the dear old man" and regretted that his
worldly circumstances did not allow him to erect a statue to the
composer at his own expense!

We have called this writing of symphonies and accompaniments for
George Thomson a novel undertaking. It was, however, only novel
in the sense of being rather out of Haydn's special "line." He
had already been employed on work of the kind for the collection
of William Napier, to which he contributed the accompaniments of
150 songs. Later on, too (in 1802-1803), he harmonized and wrote
accompaniments for sixty-five airs, for which he received 500
florins from Whyte of Edinburgh. The extent of his labours for
George Thomson we shall now proceed to show.

Song Accompaniments

Thomson addressed his first letter to Haydn in October 1799.
There is no copy of it, but there is a copy of a letter to Mr
Straton, a friend of Thomson's, who was at this time Secretary to
the Legation at Vienna. Straton was to deliver the letter to
Haydn, and negotiate with him on Thomson's behalf. He was
authorized to "say whatever you conceive is likely to produce
compliance," and if necessary to "offer a few more ducats for
each air." The only stipulation was that Haydn "must not speak of
what he gets." Thomson does not expect that he will do the
accompaniments better than Kozeluch--"that is scarcely
possible"(!); but in the symphonies he will be "great and
original." Thomson, as we now learn from Straton, had offered 2
ducats for each air (say 20s.); Haydn "seemed desirous of having
rather more than 2 ducats, but did not precisely insist upon the
point." Apparently he did not insist, for the next intimation of
the correspondence is to the effect that thirty-two airs which he
had just finished had been forwarded to Thomson on June 19, 1800.
They would have been done sooner, says Straton, but "poor Haydn
laboured under so severe an illness during the course of this
spring that we were not altogether devoid of alarm in regard to
his recovery." Thomson, thus encouraged, sent sixteen more airs;
and Straton writes (April 30, 1801) that Haydn at first refused
to touch them because the price paid was too low. But in the
course of conversation Straton learnt that Haydn was writing to
Thomson to ask him to procure a dozen India handkerchiefs, and it
struck him that "your making him a present of them might mollify
the veteran into compliance respecting the sixteen airs." Straton
therefore took upon himself to promise in Thomson's name that the
handkerchiefs would be forthcoming, and "this had the desired
effect to such a degree that Haydn immediately put the sixteen
airs in his pocket, and is to compose the accompaniments as soon
as possible on the same terms as the former."

Mrs Jordan

The handkerchiefs duly arrived--"nice and large"--and Haydn made
his acknowledgments in appropriate terms. At the same time (in
January 1802) he wrote: "I send you with this the favourite air
'The Blue Bells of Scotland,' and I should like that this little
air should be engraved all alone and dedicated in my name as a
little complimentary gift to the renowned Mrs Jordan, whom,
without having the honour of knowing, I esteem extremely for her
great virtue and reputation." Mrs Jordan has been credited with
the air of "The Blue Bells of Scotland." She certainly
popularized the song, whether it was her own or not. In the note
just quoted Haydn must have used the term "virtue" in the Italian

A Hitch

After this a little hitch occurred in the Thomson correspondence.
Haydn, being asked by Whyte, the publisher of a rival collection,
to do something for his work, at once agreed. Thomson, not
unnaturally, perhaps, felt hurt. He made his complaint through
Mr Straton's successor at the Embassy, Mr Charles Stuart; and
in August 1803 Stuart writes to say that he had broached the
matter to Haydn "in as delicate terms as possible for fear he
might take offence." Haydn frankly admitted that he had done the
accompaniments for Whyte, but said the airs were different from
those he had done for Thomson. After "a long conversation, he
informed me," says Mr Stuart, "that being now seventy-four years
of age and extremely infirm, he found himself wholly incapable of
further application to study; that he must therefore beg leave to
decline all offers, whether on your part or from any other person
whatsoever. He even declared that notwithstanding the repeated
requests of Prince Esterhazy, he felt himself utterly incapable
of finishing several pieces of music he had undertaken, and being
possessed of a competency he desired nothing so much as to pass
the short time he has yet to live in repose and quiet." From this
letter we learn that Thomson had unluckily sent a present of a
handkerchief for Frau Haydn, who had now been dead for three

A "Previous" Letter of Condolence

In spite of the little misunderstanding just referred to Haydn
was brought round once more, and on the 20th of December 1803
Thomson sends twenty-four airs, "which will most certainly be the
last." Haydn's work delights him so much that he "really cannot
bear the idea of seeking an inferior composer to finish a work
already so nearly finished by you." He would pay 4 ducats for
each air rather than have the mortification of a refusal. After
this there is little of interest to note in the correspondence,
unless it be a very "previous" letter of condolence which Thomson
sent to Vienna. A false rumour had reached him that Haydn was
dead. The following extract from a note which Haydn dictated to
be sent to the friend who received Thomson's letter will explain
the matter:

Kindly say to Mr Thomson that Haydn is very sensible of
the distress that the news of his alleged death has caused
him, and that this sign of affection has added, if that
were possible, to the esteem and friendship he will always
entertain for Mr Thomson. You will notice that he has put
his name and the date on the sheet of music to give better
proof that he is still on this nether world. He begs you
at the same time to be kind enough to have Mr Thomson's
letter of condolence copied and to send him the copy.

Haydn's experience in this way was perhaps unique. Burney says he
was reported dead in 1778; and the false rumour which reached
Thomson in 1805 led Cherubini to compose a sacred cantata for
three voices and orchestra, which was duly performed in Paris
when his death actually occurred.

Haydn furnished in all some 250 airs with symphonies and
accompaniments for Thomson. In the packet of letters from the
composer, docketed by Thomson himself, the latter has placed a
slip of paper indicating the various payments he had made.
According to this statement Haydn had 291 pounds, 18s. for his
work from first to last--not by any means an insignificant sum to
make out of a side branch of his art.


This interesting correspondence takes us up to the year 1806, by
which time Haydn's work was entirely over. His eventide, alas!
was darkened by the clouds of war. The wave of the French
Revolution had cast its bloody spray upon the surrounding
nations, and 1805 saw the composer's beloved Vienna occupied by
the French. Haydn was no politician, but love of country lay deep
down in his heart, and he watched the course of events, from his
little cottage, with the saddest forebodings.

The Last Public Appearance

Once only was he drawn from his seclusion. This was on the 27th
of March 1808, when he appeared in public for the last time at
a performance of "The Creation" at the University. The scene
on this remarkable occasion has been described by many pens.
Naumann, writing of it, says that "such an apotheosis of the
master was witnessed as has but few parallels," and this is no
exaggeration. The performance, which was under the direction
of Salieri, had been arranged in honour of his approaching
seventy-sixth birthday. All the great artists of Vienna were
present, among them Beethoven and Hummel. Prince Esterhazy had
sent his carriage to bring the veteran to the hall, and, as he
was being conveyed in an arm-chair to a place among the princes
and nobles, the whole audience rose to their feet in testimony of
their regard. It was a cold night, and ladies sitting near swathed
him in their costly wraps and lace shawls. The concert began, and
the audience was hushed to silence. When that magnificent passage
was reached, "And there was light," they burst into loud applause,
and Haydn, overcome with excitement, exclaimed, "Not I, but a
Power from above created that." The performance went on, but it
proved too much for the old man, and friends arranged to take him
home at the end of the first part. As he was being carried out,
some of the highest of the land crowded round to take what was
felt to be a last farewell; and Beethoven, forgetting incidents of
early days, bent down and fervently kissed his hand and forehead.
Having reached the door, Haydn asked his bearers to pause and turn
him towards the orchestra. Then, lifting his hand, as if in the
act of blessing, he was borne out into the night.

Next year Vienna was bombarded by the French, and a cannon-ball
fell not far from Haydn's house. He was naturally much alarmed;
but there is no ground for the statement, sometimes made, that
his death was hastened by the fright. On the contrary, he called
out to his servants, who were assisting him to dress: "Children,
don't be frightened; no harm can happen to you while Haydn is

The End

But his days were numbered. "This miserable war has cast me down
to the very ground," he would say, with tears in his eyes. And
yet it was a French officer who last visited him on his death-bed,
the city being then actually occupied by the enemy. The officer's
name is not given, but he sang "In native worth" with such
expression that Haydn was quite overcome, and embraced him
warmly at parting. On May 26 he seems to have felt that his end
was fast approaching. He gathered his household around him, and,
being carried to the piano, at his own special request, played
the Emperor's Hymn three times over, with an emotion that fairly
overpowered himself and all who heard him. Five days later, on
the 31st of May 1809, he breathed his last.

Funeral services were held in all the churches, and on June 15
Mozart's Requiem was given in his honour at the Scots Church,
when several generals and administrators of the French army were
present. Many poems were also written in his praise.

Haydn was buried as a private individual in the Hundsthurm
Churchyard, which was just outside the lines, and close to the
suburb of Gumpendorf, where he had lived. The grave remained
entirely undistinguished till 1814--another instance of Vienna's
neglect--when Haydn's pupil, Chevalier Neukomm, erected a stone
bearing the following inscription, which contains a five-part
canon for solution:




[figure: a musical score excerpt to the syllables non om - nis
mo - ri - ar]

D. D. D.

Discp. Eius Neukom Vindob. Redux. Mdcccxiv.

Desecration of Haydn's Remains

In 1820 the remains were exhumed by order of Prince Esterhazy,
and re-interred with fresh funeral honours in the Pilgrimage
Church of Maria-Einsiedel, near Eisenstadt, on November 7. A
simple stone, with a Latin inscription, is inserted in the wall
over the vault. When the coffin was opened, the startling
discovery was made that the skull had been stolen. The
desecration took place two days after the funeral. It appears
that one Johann Peter, intendant of the royal and imperial
prisons of Vienna, conceived the grim idea of forming a
collection of skulls, made, as he avowed in his will, to
corroborate the theory of Dr Gall, the founder of phrenology.
This functionary bribed the sexton, and--in concert with Prince
Esterhazy's secretary Rosenbaum, and with two Government
officials named Jungermann and Ullmann--he opened Haydn's grave
and removed the skull. Peter afterwards gave the most minute
details of the sacrilege. He declared that he examined the head
and found the bump of music fully developed, and traces in the
nose of the polypus from which Haydn suffered. The skull was
placed in a lined box, and when Peter got into difficulties and
his collection was dispersed, the relic passed into the
possession of Rosenbaum. That worthy's conscience seems to have
troubled him in the matter, for he conceived the idea of erecting
a monument to the skull in his back garden! When the desecration
was discovered in 1820 there was an outcry, followed by police
search. Prince Esterhazy would stand no nonsense. The skull must
be returned, no questions would be asked, and Peter was offered a
reward if he found it. The notion then occurred to Rosenbaum of
palming off another skull for Haydn's. This he actually succeeded
in doing, the head of some unfortunate individual being handed to
the police. Peter claimed the reward, which was very justly
refused him. When Rosenbaum was dying he confessed to the
deception, and gave the skull back to Peter. Peter formed the
resolution of bequeathing it, by will, to the Conservatorium at
Vienna; but he altered his mind before he died, and by codicil
left the skull to Dr Haller, from whose keeping it ultimately
found its way to the anatomical museum at Vienna. We believe it
is still in the museum. Its proper place is, of course, in
Haydn's grave, and a stigma will rest on Vienna until it is
placed there.

[The great masters have been peculiarly unfortunate in the matter
of their "remains." When Beethoven's grave was opened in 1863,
Professor Wagner was actually allowed to cut off the ears and
aural cavities of the corpse in order to investigate the cause of
the dead man's deafness. The alleged skeleton of Sebastian Bach
was taken to an anatomical museum a few years ago, "cleaned up,"
and clothed with a semblance of flesh to show how Bach looked in
life! Donizetti's skull was stolen before the funeral, and was
afterwards sold to a pork butcher, who used it as a money-bowl.
Gluck was re-buried in 1890 beside Mozart, Beethoven and
Schubert, after having lain in the little suburban churchyard of
Matzleinsdorf since 1787.]

A copy of Haydn's will has been printed as one of the appendices
to the present volume, with notes and all necessary information
about the interesting document. Two years before his death he had
arranged that his books, music, manuscripts and medals should
become the property of the Esterhazy family. Among the relics
were twenty-four canons which had hung, framed and glazed, in his
bedroom. "I am not rich enough," he said, "to buy good pictures,
so I have provided myself with hangings of a kind that few
possess." These little compositions were the subject of an
oft-quoted anecdote. His wife, in one of her peevish moods,
was complaining that if he should die suddenly, there was not
sufficient money in the house to bury him. "In case such a
calamity should occur," he replied, "take these canons to the
music-publisher. I will answer for it, that they will bring
enough to pay for a decent funeral."



Face and Features--Portraits--Social Habits--Partial to Pretty
Women--His Letters--His Humour--His Generosity--Unspoiled by
Success--His Piety--His Industry--Habits of Composition--
Impatient of Pedantry.

Face and Features

Something of Haydn's person and character will have already been
gathered from the foregoing pages. He considered himself an ugly
man, and, in Addison's words, thought that the best expedient was
"to be pleasant upon himself." His face was deeply pitted with
small-pox, and the nose, large and aquiline, was disfigured by
the polypus which he had inherited from his mother. In complexion
he was so dark as to have earned in some quarters the familiar
nickname of "The Moor." His underlip was thick and hanging, his
jaw massive. "The mouth and chin are Philistine," wrote Lavater
under his silhouette, noting, at the same time, "something out of
the common in the eyes and the nose." The eyes were dark gray.
They are described as "beaming with benevolence," and he used
to say himself: "Anyone can see by the look of me that I am a
good-natured sort of fellow."

In stature he was rather under the middle height, with legs
disproportionately short, a defect rendered more noticeable by
the style of his dress, which he refused to change with the
changes of fashion. Dies writes: "His features were regular, his
expression animated, yet, at the same time, temperate, gentle and
attractive. His face wore a stern look when in repose, but in
conversation it was smiling and cheerful. I never heard him laugh
out loud. His build was substantial, but deficient in muscle."
Another of his acquaintances says that "notwithstanding a cast of
physiognomy rather morose, and a short way of expressing himself,
which seemed to indicate an ill-tempered man, the character of
Haydn was gay, open and humorous." From these testimonies we get
the impression of a rather unusual combination of the attractive
and the repulsive, the intellectual and the vulgar. What Lavater
described as the "lofty and good" brow was partly concealed by a
wig, with side curls, and a pig-tail, which he wore to the last.
His dress as a private individual has not been described in
detail, but the Esterhazy uniform, though frequently changing in
colour and style, showed him in knee-breeches, white stockings,
lace ruffles and white neckcloth. This uniform he never wore
except when on actual duty.


After his death there were many portraits in chalks, engraved,
and modeled in wax. Notwithstanding his admission of the lack of
personal graces, he had a sort of feminine objection to an artist
making him look old. We read that, in 1800, he was "seriously
angry" with a painter who had represented him as he then
appeared. "If I was Haydn at forty," said he, "why should you
transmit to posterity a Haydn of seventy-eight?" Several writers
mention a portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and even give details
of the sittings, but he never sat to Reynolds, whose eyesight had
begun to fail before Haydn's arrival in England. During his first
visit to London Hoppner painted his portrait at the special
request of the Prince of Wales. This portrait was engraved by
Facius in 1807, and is now at Hampton Court. Engravings were also
published in London by Schiavonetti and Bartolozzi from portraits
by Guttenbrunn and Ott, and by Hardy from his own oil-painting. A
silhouette, which hung for long at the head of his bed, was
engraved for the first time for Grove's Dictionary of Music. This
was said by Elssler, his old servant, to have been a striking
likeness. Of the many busts, the best is that by his friend
Grassi, the sculptor.

[figure: Haydn's silhouette by Lavater]

Social Habits

Very little has been recorded of his social habits. Anything like
excess in wine is not once mentioned; but it is easy to see from
his correspondence that he enjoyed a good dinner, and was not
insensible to creature comforts. Writing to Artaria from Esterhaz
in 1788, he says: "By-the-bye, I am very much obliged to you for
the capital cheese you sent me, and also the sausages, for which
I am your debtor, but shall not fail when an opportunity offers
to return the obligation." In a subsequent letter to Frau von
Genzinger he comically laments the change from Vienna to
Esterhaz: "I lost twenty pounds in weight in three days, for the
effect of my fare at Vienna disappeared on the journey. 'Alas!
alas!' thought I, when driven to eat at the restaurateurs,
'instead of capital beef, a slice of a cow fifty years old;
instead of a ragout with little balls of force-meat, an old sheep
with yellow carrots; instead of a Bohemian pheasant, a tough
grill; instead of pastry, dry apple fritters and hazelnuts, etc.!
Alas! alas! would that I now had many a morsel I despised in
Vienna! Here in Esterhaz no one asks me, Would you like some
chocolate, with milk or without? Will you take some coffee, with
or without cream? What can I offer you, my good Haydn? Will you
have vanille ice or pineapple?' If I had only a piece of good
Parmesan cheese, particularly in Lent, to enable me to swallow
more easily the black dumplings and puffs! I gave our porter this
very day a commission to send me a couple of pounds." Even amid
the social pleasures and excitements of London, where he was
invited out six times a week and had "four excellent dishes" at
every dinner, he longs to be back in his native land so that he
may have "some good German soup."

Partial to Pretty Women

We read that in Austria he "never associated with any but the
musicians, his colleagues," a statement which cannot be strictly
true. In London he was, as we have seen, something of a "lion,"
but it is doubtful if he enjoyed the conventional diversions of
the beau monde. Yet he liked the company of ladies, especially
when they were personally attractive. That he was never at a loss
for a compliment may perhaps be taken as explaining his frequent
conquests, for, as he frankly said himself, the pretty women
"were at any rate not tempted by my beauty." Of children he was
passionately fond, a fact which lends additional melancholy to
his own unhappy and childless home life.

His Letters

He was not highly educated, and he does not seem to have taken
much interest in anything outside his own profession. This much
may be gathered from his correspondence, upon which it is not
necessary to comment at length. Mr Russell Lowell remarks that a
letter which is not mainly about the writer loses its prime
flavour. Haydn's letters are seldom "mainly about the writer."
They help us very little in seeking to get at what Newman called
"the inside of things," though some, notably those given at the
end of this volume, embody valuable suggestions. He habitually
spoke in the broad dialect of his native place. He knew Italian
well and French a little, and he had enough Latin to enable him
to set the Church services. Of English he was almost entirely
ignorant until he came to London in 1791, when we hear of him
walking the country lanes with an English grammar in hand. There
is an amusing story of a dinner at Madame Mara's, at which he was
present during his first visit. Crossdill, the violoncellist,
proposed to celebrate him with "three times three." The
suggestion was at once adopted, all the guests, with the
exception of Haydn himself, standing up and cheering lustily.
Haydn heard his name repeated, but not understanding what was
going on, stared at the company in blank bewilderment. When the
matter was explained to him he appeared quite overcome with
diffidence, putting his hands before his face and not recovering
his equanimity for some minutes. [See Records of My Life, by
John Taylor: London, 1832.]

His Humour

Of hobbies or recreations he appears to have had none, though, to
relieve the dull monotony of life at Eisenstadt or Esterhaz, he
occasionally indulged in hunting and fishing and mountain
rambles. A leading trait in his character was his humour and love
of fun. As he remarked to Dies: "A mischievous fit comes over me
sometimes that is perfectly beyond control." The incident of the
removal of the fellow chorister's pig-tail will at once recur to
the memory. The "Surprise" Symphony is another illustration, to
say nothing of the "Toy" Symphony and "Jacob's Dream."

His Generosity

Of his generosity and his kindness to fellow artists there are
many proofs. In 1800 he speaks of himself as having "willingly
endeavoured all my life to assist everyone," and the words were
no empty boast. No man was, in fact, more ready to perform a good
deed. He had many needy relations always looking to him for aid,
and their claims were seldom refused. A brother artist in
distress was sure of help, and talented young men found in him a
valuable friend, equally ready to give his advice or his gold, as
the case might require. That he was sometimes imposed upon goes
without saying. He has been charged with avarice, but the charge
is wholly unfounded. He was simply careful in money matters, and
that, to a large extent, because of the demands that were
constantly being made upon him. In commercial concerns he was
certainly sharp and shrewd, and attempts to take advantage of him
always roused his indignation. "By heavens!" he writes to
Artaria, "you have wronged me to the extent of fifty ducats....
This step must cause the cessation of all transactions between
us." The same firm, having neglected to answer some business
proposition, were pulled up in this fashion: "I have been much
provoked by the delay, inasmuch as I could have got forty ducats
from another publisher for these five pieces, and you make too
many difficulties about a matter by which, in such short
compositions, you have at least a thirty fold profit. The sixth
piece has long had its companion, so pray make an end of the
affair and send me either my music or my money."

The Haydn of these fierce little notes is not the gentle recluse
we are apt to imagine him. They show, on the contrary, that he
was not wanting in spirit when occasion demanded. He was himself
upright and honest in all his dealings. And he never forgot a
kindness, as more than one entry in his will abundantly
testifies. He was absolutely without malice, and there are
several instances of his repaying a slight with a generous deed
or a thoughtful action. His practical tribute to the memory of
Werner, who called him a fop and a "scribbler of songs," has been
cited. His forbearance with Pleyel, who had allowed himself to be
pitted against him by the London faction, should also be
recalled; and it is perhaps worth mentioning further that he put
himself to some trouble to get a passport for Pleyel during the
long wars of the French Revolution. He carried his kindliness and
gentleness even into "the troubled region of artistic life," and
made friends where other men would have made foes.

Unspoiled by Success

His modesty has often been insisted upon. Success did not spoil
him. In a letter of 1799 he asks that a certain statement in his
favour should not be mentioned, lest he "be accused of conceit
and arrogance, from which my Heavenly Father has preserved me all
my life long." Here he spoke the simple truth. At the same time,
while entirely free from presumption and vanity, he was perfectly
alive to his own merits, and liked to have them acknowledged.
When visitors came to see him nothing gave him greater pleasure
than to open his cabinets and show the medals, that had been
struck in his honour, along with the other gifts he had received
from admirers. Like a true man of genius, as Pohl says, he
enjoyed distinction and fame, but carefully avoided ambition.

High Ideals

Of his calling and opportunities as an artist he had a very high
idea. Acknowledging a compliment paid to him in 1802 by the
members of the Musical Union in Bergen, he wrote of the happiness
it gave him to think of so many families susceptible of true
feeling deriving pleasure and enjoyment from his compositions.

"Often when contending with the obstacles of every sort opposed
to my work, often when my powers both of body and mind failed,
and I felt it a hard matter to persevere in the course I had
entered on, a secret feeling within me whispered, 'There are but
few contented and happy men here below; everywhere grief and care
prevail, perhaps your labours may one day be the source from
which the weary and worn or the man burdened with affairs may
derive a few moments' rest and refreshment.' What a powerful
motive to press onwards! And this is why I now look back with
heartfelt, cheerful satisfaction on the work to which I have
devoted such a long succession of years with such persevering
efforts and exertions."

With this high ideal was combined a constant effort to perfect
himself in his art. To Kalkbrenner he once made the touching
remark: "I have only just learned in my old age how to use the
wind instruments, and now that I do understand them I must leave
the world." To Griezinger, again, he said that he had by no means
exhausted his genius: that "ideas were often floating in his
mind, by which he could have carried the art far beyond anything
it had yet attained, had his physical powers been equal to the

His Piety

Closely, indeed inseparably, connected with this exalted idea of
his art was his simple and sincere piety. He was a devout
Christian, and looked upon his genius as a gift from God, to be
freely used in His service. His faith was never assailed with
doubts; he lived and died in the communion of the Catholic
Church, and was "never in danger of becoming either a bigot or a
free-thinker." When Carpani, anticipating latter-day criticism,
hinted to him that his Church compositions were impregnated with
a light gaiety, he replied: "I cannot help it; I give forth what
is in me. When I think of the Divine Being, my heart is, so full
of joy that the notes fly off as from a spindle, and as I have a
cheerful heart He will pardon me if I serve Him cheerfully."

His reverent practice during the composition of "The Creation"
has been mentioned. "Never was I so pious," he said. There are
many proofs of the same feeling in his correspondence and other
writings. Thus he concludes an autobiographical sketch with the
words: "I offer up to Almighty God all eulogiums, for to Him
alone do I owe them. My sole wish is neither to offend against my
neighbour nor my gracious prince, but above all not against our
merciful God." Again, in one of his later letters, he says "May
God only vouchsafe to grant me the health that I have hitherto
enjoyed, and may I preserve it by good conduct, out of gratitude
to the Almighty." The note appended to the first draft of his
will is also significant. Nor in this connection should we
forget the words with which he inscribed the scores of his more
important compositions. For the conclusion he generally adopted
Handel's "Soli Deo Gloria" or "Laus Deo," with the occasional
addition of "et B.V. Mae. et Oms. Sis. (Beatae Virgini Mariae
et Omnibus Sanctis)." Even his opera scores were so inscribed,
one indeed having the emphatic close: "Laus omnipotenti Deo et
Beatissimae Virgini Mariae." The superscription was uniformly "In
nomine Domini." It is recorded somewhere that when, in composing,
he felt his inspiration flagging, or was baulked by some
difficulty, he rose from the instrument and began to run over
his rosary. In short, not to labour the point, he had himself
followed the advice which, as an old man, he gave to the
choirboys of Vienna: "Be good and industrious and serve God

His Industry

The world has seen many an instance of genius without industry, as
of industry without genius. In Haydn the two were happily wedded.
He was always an early riser, and long after his student days were
over he worked steadily from sixteen to eighteen hours a day.
He lived strictly by a self-imposed routine, and was so little
addicted to what Scott called "bed-gown and slipper tricks," that
he never sat down to work or received a visitor until he was fully
dressed. He had none of Wagner's luxurious tastes or Balzac's
affectations in regard to a special attire for work, but when
engaged on his more important compositions he always wore the ring
given him by the King of Prussia. In Haydn's case there are no
incredible tales of dashing off scores in the twinkling of an
eye. That he produced so much must be attributed to his habit of
devoting all his leisure to composition. He was not a rapid worker
if we compare him with Handel and Mozart. He never put down
anything till he was "quite sure it was the right thing"--a habit
of mind indicated by his neat and uniform handwriting ["His
notes had such little heads and slender tails that he used, very
properly, to call them his, flies' legs."--Bombet, p. 97.]--and
he assures us: "I never was a quick writer, and always composed
with care and deliberation. That alone," he added, "is the way to
compose works that will last, and a real connoisseur can see at a
glance whether a score has been written in undue haste or not." He
is quoted as saying that "genius is always prolific." However the
saying may be interpreted, there does not seem to have been about
him anything of what has been called the irregular dishabille of
composers, "the natural result of the habit of genius of watching
for an inspiration, and encouraging it to take possession of the
whole being when it comes."

Habits of Composition

His practice was to sketch out his ideas roughly in the morning,
and elaborate them in the afternoon, taking pains to preserve
unity in idea and form. "That is where so many young composers
fail," he said in reference to the latter point. "They string
together a number of fragments; they break off almost as soon as
they have begun, and so at the end the listener carries off no
definite impression." The importance of melody he specially
emphasized. "It is the air which is the charm of music," he
remarked, "and it is that which is most difficult to produce. The
invention of a fine melody is the work of genius." In another
place he says: "In vocal composition, the art of producing
beautiful melody may now almost be considered as lost; and when a
composer is so fortunate as to throw forth a passage that is
really melodious, he is sure, if he be not sensible of its
excellence, to overwhelm and destroy it by the fullness and
superfluity of his instrumental parts." [Compare Mozart's words
as addressed to Michael Kelly: "Melody is the essence of music. I
should liken one who invents melodies to a noble racehorse, and a
mere contrapuntist to a hired post-hack."]

He is stated to have always composed with the aid of the
pianoforte or harpsichord; and indeed we find him writing to
Artaria in 1788 to say that he has been obliged to buy a new
instrument "that I might compose your clavier sonatas
particularly well." This habit of working out ideas with the
assistance of the piano has been condemned by most theorists as
being likely to lead to fragmentariness. With Haydn at any rate
the result was entirely satisfactory, for, as Sir Hubert Parry
points out, the neatness and compactness of his works is perfect.
It is very likely, as Sir Hubert says, that most modern composers
have used the pianoforte a good deal--not so much to help them to
find out their ideas, as to test the details and intensify their
musical sensibility by the excitant sounds, the actual sensual
impression of which is, of course, an essential element in all
music. The composer can always hear such things in his mind, but
obviously the music in such an abstract form can never have quite
as much effect upon him as when the sounds really strike upon his
ear. [See Studies of Great Composers, by C. Hubert H. Parry, p.

No Pedant

Like all the really great composers, Haydn was no pedant in the
matter of theoretical formulae, though he admitted that the rigid
rules of harmony should rarely be violated, and "never without
the compensation of some inspired effect." When he was asked
according to what rule he had introduced a certain progression,
he replied "The rules are all my very obedient humble servants."
With the quint-hunters and other faddists who would place their
shackles on the wrists of genius, he had as little patience as
Beethoven, who, when told that all the authorities forbade the
consecutive fifths in his C Minor Quartet, thundered out: "Well,
I allow them." Somebody once questioned him about an apparently
unwarranted passage in the introduction to Mozart's Quartet in C
Major. "If Mozart has written it, be sure he had good reasons for
doing so," was the conclusive reply. That fine old smoke-dried
pedant, Albrechtsberger, declared against consecutive fourths in
strict composition, and said so to Haydn. "What is the good of
such rules?" demanded Haydn. "Art is free and must not be
fettered by mechanical regulations. The cultivated ear must
decide, and I believe myself as capable as anyone of making laws
in this respect. Such trifling is absurd; I wish instead that
someone would try to compose a really new minuet." To Dies he
remarked further: "Supposing an idea struck me as good and
thoroughly satisfactory both to the ear and the heart, I would
far rather pass over some slight grammatical error than sacrifice
what seemed to me beautiful to any mere pedantic trifling." These
were sensible views. Practice must always precede theory. When we
find a great composer infringing some rule of the old text-books,
there is, to say the least, a strong presumption, not that the
composer is wrong, but that the rule needs modifying. The great
composer goes first and invents new effects: it is the business
of the theorist not to cavil at every novelty, but to follow
modestly behind and make his rules conform to the practice of the
master. [Compare Professor Prout's Treatise on Harmony.]

Thus much about Haydn the man. Let us now turn to Haydn the
composer and his position in the history of music.



The Father of Instrumental Music--The Quartets--The Symphonies--
The Salomon Set--The Sonatas--Church Music--Songs--Operas--
Orchestration--General Style--Conclusion.

The Father of Instrumental Music

Haydn has been called "the father of instrumental music," and
although rigid critics may dispute his full right to that title,
on broad grounds he must be allowed to have sufficiently earned
it. He was practically the creator of more than one of our modern
forms, and there was hardly a department of instrumental music in
which he did not make his influence felt. This was emphatically
the case with the sonata, the symphony and the string quartet.
The latter he brought to its first perfection. Before his time
this particular form of chamber music was long neglected, and for
a very simple reason. Composers looked upon it as being too
slight in texture for the display of their genius. That, as has
often been demonstrated, was because they had not mastered the
art of "writing a four-part harmony with occasional transitions
into the pure polyphonic style--a method of writing which is
indispensable to quartet composition--and also because they did
not yet understand the scope and value of each individual

The Quartet

It would be too much to say that even Haydn fully realized the
capacities of each of his four instruments. Indeed, his quartet
writing is often bald and uninteresting. But at least he did
write in four-part harmony, and it is certainly to him that we
owe the installation of the quartet as a distinct species of
chamber music. "It is not often," says Otto Jahn, the biographer
of Mozart, "that a composer hits so exactly upon the form suited
to his conceptions; the quartet was Haydn's natural mode of
expressing his feelings." This is placing the Haydn quartet in a
very high position among the products of its creator. But its
artistic value and importance cannot well be over-estimated. Even
Mozart, who set a noble seal upon the form, admitted that it was
from Haydn he had first learned the true way to compose quartets;
and there have been enthusiasts who regarded the Haydn quartet
with even more veneration than the Haydn symphony. No fewer than
seventy-seven quartets are ascribed to him. Needless to say, they
differ considerably as regards their style and treatment, for the
first was written so early as 1755, while the last belongs to his
later years. But they are all characterized by the same
combination of manly earnestness, rich invention and mirthful
spirit. The form is concise and symmetrical, the part-writing is
clear and well-balanced, and a "sunny sweetness" is the
prevailing mood. As a discerning critic has remarked, there is
nothing in the shape of instrumental music much pleasanter and
easier to listen to than one of Haydn's quartets. The best of
them hold their places in the concert-rooms of to-day, and they
seem likely to live as long as there are people to appreciate
clear and logical composition which attempts nothing beyond
"organized simplicity." [See W. J. Henderson's How Music
Developed, p. 191: London, 1899]. In this department, as Goethe
said, he may be superseded, but he can never be surpassed.

The Symphony

For the symphony Haydn did no less than for the quartet. The
symphony, in his young days, was not precisely the kind of work
which now bears the name. It was generally written for a small
band, and consisted of four parts for strings and four for wind
instruments. It was meant to serve no higher purpose, as a rule,
than to be played in the houses of nobles; and on that account it
was neither elaborated as to length nor complicated as to
development. So long as it was agreeable and likely to please the
aristocratic ear, the end of the composer was thought to be

Haydn, as we know, began his symphonic work under Count Morzin.
The circumstances were not such as to encourage him to "rise to
any pitch of real greatness or depth of meaning"; and although he
was able to build on a somewhat grander scale when he went to
Eisenstadt, it was still a little comfortable coterie that he
understood himself to be writing for rather than for the musical
world at large. Nevertheless, he aimed at constant improvement,
and although he had no definite object in view, he "raised the
standard of symphony--writing far beyond any point which had been
attained before."

"His predecessors," to quote Sir Hubert Parry, "had always
written rather carelessly and hastily for the band, and hardly
ever tried to get refined and original effects from the use of
their instruments, but he naturally applied his mind more
earnestly to the matter in hand, and found out new ways of
contrasting and combining the tones of different members of his
orchestra, and getting a fuller and richer effect out of the mass
of them when they were all playing. In the actual style of the
music, too, he made great advances, and in his hands symphonies
became by degrees more vigorous, and, at the same time, more
really musical."

But the narrow limits of the Esterhazy audience and the numbing
routine of the performances were against his rising to the top
heights of his genius.

The Salomon Set

It was only when he came to write for the English public that he
showed what he could really do with the matter of the symphony.
In comparison with the twelve symphonies which he wrote for
Salomon, the other, and especially the earlier works are of
practically no account. They are interesting, of course, as
marking stages in the growth of the symphony and in the
development of the composer's genius. But regarded in themselves,
as absolute and individual entities, they are not for a moment to
be placed by the side of the later compositions. These, so far as
his instrumental music is concerned, are the crowning glory of
his life work. They are the ripe fruits of his long experience
working upon the example of Mozart, and mark to the full all
those qualities of natural geniality, humour, vigour and
simple-heartedness, which are the leading characteristics of his

[figure: a musical score excerpt]

The Sonata

Haydn's sonatas show the same advance in form as his symphonies
and quartets. The older specimens of the sonata, as seen in the
works of Biber, Kuhnau, Mattheson and others, contain little more
than the germs of the modern sonata. Haydn, building on Emanuel
Bach, fixed the present form, improving so largely upon the
earlier, that we could pass from his sonatas directly to those of
Beethoven without the intervention of Mozart's as a connecting
link. Beethoven's sonatas were certainly more influenced by
Haydn's than by Mozart's. Haydn's masterpieces in this kind, like
those of Mozart and Beethoven, astonish by their order,
regularity, fluency, harmony and roundness; and by their splendid
development into full and complete growth out of the sometimes
apparently unimportant germs. [See Ernst Pauer's
Musical Forms.] Naturally his sonatas are not all masterpieces.
Of the thirty-five, some are old-fashioned and some are quite
second-rate. But, like the symphonies, they are all of historical
value as showing the development not only of the form but of the
composer's powers. One of the number is peculiar in having four
movements; another is equally peculiar--to Haydn at least--in
having only two movements. Probably in the case of the latter the
curtailment was due to practical rather than to artistic reasons.
Like Beethoven, with the two-movement sonata in C minor, Haydn
may not have had time for a third! In several of the sonatas the
part-writing strikes one as being somewhat poor and meagre; in
others there is, to the modern ear, a surfeiting indulgence in
those turns, arpeggios and other ornaments which were inseparable
from the nature of the harpsichord, with its thin tones and want
of sustaining power. If Haydn had lived to write for the richer
and more sustained sounds of the modern pianoforte, his genius
would no doubt have responded to the increased demands made upon
it, though we may doubt whether it was multiplex enough or
intellectual enough to satisfy the deeper needs of our time. As
it is, the changes which have been made in sonata form since his
day are merely changes of detail. To him is due the fixity of the
form. [See "The Pianoforte Sonata," by J. S. Shedlock: London,
1895. Mr Shedlock, by selecting for analysis some of the most
characteristic sonatas, shows Haydn in his three stages of
apprenticeship, mastery and maturity.]

Church Music

Of his masses and Church music generally it is difficult to speak
critically without seeming unfair. We have seen how he explained
what must be called the almost secular style of these works. But
while it is true that Haydn's masses have kept their place in the
Catholic churches of Germany and elsewhere, it is impossible, to
Englishmen, at any rate, not to feel a certain incongruity, a
lack of that dignity and solemnity, that religious "sense," which
makes our own Church music so impressive. We must not blame him
for this. He escaped the influences which made Bach and Handel
great in religious music--the influences of Protestantism, not to
say Puritanism. The Church to which he belonged was no longer
guided in its music by the principles of Palestrina. On the
contrary; it was tainted by secular and operatic influences; and
although Haydn felt himself to be thoroughly in earnest it was
rather the ornamental and decorate side of religion that he
expressed in his lively music. He might, perhaps, have written in
a more serious, lofty strain had he been brought under the noble
traditions which glorified the sacred choral works of the earlier
masters just named. In any case, his Church music has nothing of
the historical value of his instrumental music. It is marked by
many sterling and admirable qualities, but the progress of the
art would not have been materially affected if it had never come
into existence.


As a song-writer Haydn was only moderately successful, perhaps
because, having himself but a slight acquaintance with
literature, he left the selection of the words to others, with,
in many cases, unfortunate results. The form does not seem to
have been a favourite with him, for his first songs were not
produced until so late as 1780. Some of the later compositions
have, however, survived; and one or two of the canzonets, such as
"My mother bids me bind my hair" and "She never told her love,"
are admirable. The three-part and the four-part songs, as well as
the canons, of which he thought very highly himself, are also
excellent, and still charm after the lapse of so many years.


On the subject of his operas little need be added to what has
already been said. Strictly speaking, he never had a chance of
showing what he could do with opera on a grand scale. He had to
write for a small stage and a small audience, and in so far he
was probably successful. Pohl thinks that if his project of
visiting Italy had been fulfilled and his faculties been
stimulated in this direction by fresh scenes and a larger
horizon, we might have gained "some fine operas." It is doubtful;
Haydn lacked the true dramatic instinct. His placid, easy-going,
contented nature could never have allowed him to rise to great
heights of dramatic force. He was not built on a heroic mould;
the meaning of tragedy was unknown to him.


Regarding his orchestration a small treatise might be written.
The terms which best describe it are, perhaps, refinement and
brilliancy. Much of his success in this department must, of
course, be attributed to his long and intimate association with
the Esterhazy band. In 1766, six years after his appointment,
this band numbered seventeen instruments--six violins and viola,
one violoncello, one double bass, one flute, two oboes, two
bassoons and four horns. It was subsequently enlarged to
twenty-two and twenty-four, including trumpets and kettledrums on
special occasions. From 1776 to 1778 there were also clarinets.
This gradual extension of resources may be taken as roughly
symbolizing Haydn's own advances in the matter of orchestral
development. When he wrote his first symphony in 1759 he employed
first and second violins, violas, basses, two oboes and two
horns; in his last symphony, written in 1795, he had at his
command "the whole symphonic orchestra as it had stood when
Beethoven took up the work of orchestral development." Between
these two points Mozart had lived and died, leaving Haydn his
actual debtor so far as regards the increased importance of the
orchestra. It has been said that he learnt from Mozart the use of
the clarinet, and this is probably true, notwithstanding the fact
that he had employed a couple of clarinets in his first mass,
written in 1751 or 1752. Both composers used clarinets rarely,
but Haydn certainly did not reveal the real capacity of the
instrument or establish its position in the orchestra as Mozart

From his first works onwards, he proceeded along the true
symphonic path, and an orchestra of two flutes, two oboes, two
clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, drums, and the
usual strings fairly represents the result of his contributions
to its development up to the first successful experiments of
Mozart. The names of Mozart and Haydn ought in reality to be
coupled together as the progenitors of the modern orchestral
colouring. But the superiority must be allowed to attach to
Haydn, inasmuch as his colouring is the more expansive and
decided. Some of his works, even of the later period, show great
reticence in scoring, but, on the other hand, as in "The
Creation," he knew when to draw upon the full resources of the
orchestra. It has been pointed out as worthy of remark that he
was not sufficiently trustful of his instrumental army to leave
it without the weak support of the harpsichord, at which
instrument he frequently sat during the performance of his
symphonies, and played with the orchestra, with extremely bad
effect. [Compare The Orchestra and Orchestral Music, by W. J.
Henderson: London, 1901.] In this, however, he merely followed
the custom of his day.

General Style

Of Haydn's general style as a composer it is hardly necessary to
speak. To say that a composition is "Haydnish" is to express in
one word what is well understood by all intelligent amateurs.
Haydn's music is like his character--clear, straightforward,
fresh and winning, without the slightest trace of affectation or
morbidity. Its perfect transparency, its firmness of design, its
fluency of instrumental language, the beauty and inexhaustible
invention of its melody, its studied moderation, its child-like
cheerfulness--these are some of the qualities which mark the
style of this most genial of all the great composers.

That he was not deep, that he does not speak a message of the
inner life to the latter-day individual, who, in the Ossianic
phrase, likes to indulge in "the luxury of grief," must, of
course, be admitted. The definite embodiment of feeling which we
find in Beethoven is not to be found in him. It was not in his
nature. "My music," says Schubert, "is the production of my
genius and my misery." Haydn, like Mendelssohn, was never more
than temporarily miserable. But in music the gospel of despair
seldom wants its preachers. To-day it is Tschaikowsky; to-morrow it
will be another. Haydn meant to make the world happy, not to tear
it with agony. "I know," he said, "that God has bestowed a talent
upon me, and I thank Him for it. I think I have done my duty, and
been of use in my generation by my works. Let others do the


The following draft of Haydn's will is copied from Lady Wallace's
Letters of Distinguished Musicians (London, 1867), where it was
published in full for the first time. The much-corrected original
is in the Court Library at Vienna. Dies says: "Six weeks before
his death, in April 1809, he read over his will to his servants
in the presence of witnesses, and asked them whether they were
satisfied with his provisions or not. The good people were quite
taken by surprise at the kindness of their master's heart, seeing
themselves thus provided for in time to come, and they thanked
him with tears in their eyes." The extracts given by Dies vary in
some particulars from the following, because Haydn's final
testamentary dispositions were made at a later date. But, as Lady
Wallace says, it is not the legal but the moral aspect of the
affair that interests us. Here we see epitomized all the goodness
and beauty of Haydn's character. The document runs as follows:


1. For holy masses,........................................12

2. To the Norman School,....................................5

3. To the Poorhouse,........................................5

4. To the executor of my will.............................200
And also the small portrait of Grassi.

5. To the pastor,..........................................10

6. Expenses of my funeral, first-class,...................200

7. To my dear brother Michael, in Salzburg,..............4000

8. To my brother Johann, in Eisenstadt,..................4000

9. To my sister in Rohrau (erased, and written
underneath): "God have mercy on her soul! To the
three children of my sister,".........................2000

10. To the workwoman in Esterhazy, Anna Maria Moser,
nee Frohlichin,........................................500

11. To the workwoman in Rohrau, Elisabeth, nee Bohme,......500

12. To the two workwomen there (erased, and replaced
by: "To the shoemaker, Anna Loder, in Vienna"),........200
Should she presume to make any written claims, I
declare them to be null and void, having already
paid for her and her profligate husband, Joseph
Lungmayer, more than 6000 gulden.

13. To the shoemaker in Garhaus, Theresa Hammer,............500

14. To her son, the blacksmith, Matthias Frohlich,..........500

15.&16. To the eldest child of my deceased sister,
Anna Wimmer, and her husband, at Meolo, in Hungary,.....500

17. To her married daughter at Kaposwar,....................100

18. To the other three children (erased),...................300

19. To the married Dusse, nee Scheeger,.....................300

20. To her imbecile brother, Joseph (erased),...............100

21. To her brother, Karl Scheeger, silversmith, and his

22. To the son of Frau von Koller,..........................300

23. To his son (erased),....................................100

24. To the sister of my late wife (erased).

25. To my servant, Johann Elssler,.........................2500
Also one year's wages, likewise a coat, waistcoat
and a pair of trousers. (According to Griesinger,
Haydn bequeathed a capital of 6000 florins to this
faithful servant and copyist.)

26. To Rosalia Weber, formerly in my service,...............300
(She has a written certificate of this from me.)

27. To my present maid-servant, Anna Kremnitzer,...........1000
And a year's wages in addition. Also, her bed and
bedding and two pairs of linen sheets; also, four
chairs, a table, a chest of drawers, the watch,
the clock and the picture of the Blessed Virgin in
her room, a flat-iron, kitchen utensils and crockery,
one water-pail, and other trifles.

28. To my housekeeper, Theresia Meyer,......................500
And one year's wages,.................................20

29. To my old gardener, Michel,..............................24

30. To the Prince's Choir for my obsequies, to share
alike (erased),......................................100

31. To the priest (erased),..................................12

32. To the pastor in Eisenstadt for a solemn mass,............5

33. To his clerk,.............................................2

34. To the beneficiary,.......................................2

35. To Pastor von Nollendorf,.................................2

36. To Pastor von St Georg,...................................2

37. To the sexton (erased from 33),...........................1

38. To the organ-bellows' blower,.............................1

39. To the singer, Babett,...................................50

40. To my cousin, the saddler's wife, in Eisenstadt,.........50
To her daughter,........................................300

41. To Mesdemoiselles Anna and Josepha Dillin,..............100

42. To the blind daughter of Herr Graus, leader of
the choir in Eisenstadt (erased),.......................100

43. To the four sisters Sommerfeld, daughters of
the wigmaker in Presburg,...............................200

44. To Nannerl, daughter of Herr Weissgerb, my
neighbour (erased),......................................50

45. To Herr Art, merchant in the Kleine Steingasse,..........50

46. To the pastor in Rohrau,.................................12

47. To the schoolmaster in Rohrau,............................6

48. To the school children,...................................3

49. To Herr Wamerl, formerly with Count v. Harrach,..........50

50. To his present cashier,..................................50

51. To Count v. Harrach for the purpose of defraying
the bequests Nos. 51 and 52, I bequeath an
obligation of 6000 florins at 5 per cent., the
interest to be disposed of as follows:

To the widow Aloysia Polzelli, formerly
singer at Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy's, payable
in ready money six weeks after my death,................100

And each year, from the date of my death, for
her life, the interest of the above capital,............150

After her death her son, Anton Polzelli, to
receive 150 florins for one year, having always
been a good son to his mother and a grateful
pupil to me. N.B.--I hereby revoke the obligation
in Italian, signed by me, which may be produced
by Mdme. Polzelli, otherwise so many of my poor
relations with greater claims would receive too
little. Finally, Mdme. Polzelli must be satisfied
with the annuity of 150 florins. After her death
the half of the above capital, viz., 3000
florins, to be divided into two shares--one-half
(1500) to devolve on the Rohrau family, for the
purpose of keeping in good order the monument
erected to me by Count von Harrach, and also
that of my deceased father at the door of the
sacristy. The other half to be held in trust by
the Count, and the annual interest of the sum,
namely, 45 florins, to be divided between any
two orphans in Rohrau.

52. To my niece, Anna Lungmayer, payable six weeks
after my death,..........................................100
Likewise a yearly annuity to her husband and herself,....150
All these legacies and obligations, and also
the proceeds of the sale of my house and legal
costs, to be paid within one year of my death;
all the other expenses to be deducted from the
sum of ready money in the hands of the executors,
who must account to the heir for the same. On
their demise this annuity to go to their children
until they come of age, and after that period the
capital to be equally divided among them. Of
the remaining 950 florins, 500 to become the
property of my beloved Count v. Harrach, as the
depositary of my last will and testament, and
300 I bequeath to the agent for his trouble.
The residue of 150 florins to go to my stepmother,
and, if she be no longer living, to her
children. N.B.--Should Mdme. Lungmayer or
her husband produce any document signed by
me for a larger sum, I wish it to be understood,
as in the case of Mdme. Polzelli, that it is to be
considered null and void, as both Mdme. Lungmayer
and her husband, owing to my great kindness, lavished
more than 6000 florins of mine during my life, which
my own brother and the citizens in Oedenberg and
Eisenstadt can testify.

(From No. 51 is repeatedly and thickly scored out.)

53. To the widow Theresia Eder and her two daughters,

54. To my pupil, Anton Polzelli,..............................100

55. To poor blind Adam in Eisenstadt,..........................24

56. To my gracious Prince, my gold Parisian medal and
the letter that accompanied it, with a humble
request to grant them a place in the museum at

57. To Mdlle. C. Czeck, waiting-woman to Princess
Graschalkowitz (erased),.................................1000

58. To Fraulein Anna Bucholz,.................................100
Inasmuch as in my youth her grandfather lent
me 150 florins when I greatly needed them,
which, however, I repaid fifty years ago.

59. To the daughter of the bookkeeper, Kandler, my
piano, by the organ-builder Schanz.

60. The small Parisian medal to Count v. Harrach, and
also the bust a l'antique of Herr Grassi.

61. To the widow Wallnerin in Schottenhof,....................100

62. To the Father Prior Leo in Eisenstadt, of the
"Brothers of Mercy,".......................................50

63. To the Hospital for the Poor in Eisenstadt (erased),.......75

For the ratification of this my last will and testament, I have
written it entirely in my own hand, and earnestly beg the
authorities to consider it, even if not strictly or properly legal,
in the light at least of a codicil, and to do all in their power
to make it valid and binding.

May 5, 1801.

Should God call me away suddenly, this my last will and testament,
though not written on stamped paper, to be considered valid in
law, and the stamps to be repaid tenfold to my sovereign.

In the name of the Holy Trinity. The uncertainty of the
period when it may please my Creator, in His infinite wisdom,
to call me from time into eternity has caused me, being in sound
health, to make my last will with regard to my little remaining
property. I commend my soul to my all-merciful Creator; my
body I wish to be interred, according to the Roman Catholic
forms, in consecrated ground. A first-class funeral. For my
soul I bequeath No. 1.

Joseph Haydn

Vienna, Dec. 6, 1801


There are unusual difficulties in the way of compiling a
thoroughly satisfactory catalogue of Haydn's instrumental works.
From the want of any generally-accepted consecutive numbering,
and the fact that several are in the same key, this is
particularly the case with the symphonies. Different editions
have different numberings, and the confusion is increased by a
further re-numbering of the piano symphonic scores arranged for
two and four hands. In Breitkopf & Hartel's catalogue many works
are included among the symphonies which are also found among the
smaller compositions, and others are catalogued twice. Even the
composer himself, in compiling his thematic catalogue, made
mistakes. In the present list we have been content for the most
part to state the numbers of the various instrumental works,
without attempting to notify each individual composition. Indeed,
to do otherwise would have called for an extensive use of music
type. Nor have we thought it necessary to include the
supposititious and doubtful works, for which Pohl's list may be


125 symphonies, including overtures to operas and plays.
Of these 94 are published in parts, 40 in score; 29 remain in
MS. About 40 have been arranged for pianoforte 2 hands, 60
for 4 hands, 10 for 8 hands.

Pohl gives a thematic list of the 12 symphonies composed for
Salomon, numbered in the order of their occurrence in the
catalogue of the London Philharmonic Society. These include:


"The Surprise" G major 1791

"The Clock," referring D minor 1794
to the Andante

"The Military" G major 1794

Other symphonies known by their titles are:


"Le Matin" D major
"Le Midi" C major
"Le Soir" G major 1761
"The Farewell" A major 1772
"Maria Theresa" C major 1773
"The Schoolmaster" E flat 1774
"Feuer Symphonie" (probably
overture to "Die Feuersbrunst") A major 1774
"La Chasse" D major 1780
"Toy" Symphony C major 1780
"La Reine de France" B major for Paris, 1786
"The Oxford" G major 1788

"The Seven Words from the Cross." Originally for orchestra.
Arranged first for 2 violins, viola and bass; afterwards for soli,
chorus and orchestra.

66 various compositions for wind and strings, separately and
combined, including divertimenti, concerted pieces, etc.

7 notturnos or serenades for the lyre.
7 marches.
6 scherzandos.
1 sestet.
Several quintets.
1 "Echo" for 4 violins and 2 'cellos.
"Feld-partien" for wind instruments and arrangements from
baryton pieces.
12 collections of minuets and allemands.
31 concertos: 9 violin, 6 'cello, 1 double bass, 5 lyre, 3 baryton,
2 flute, 3 horn, 1 for 2 horns, 1 clarino (1796).
175 baryton pieces. Arrangements were published of several
of these in 3 parts, with violin (or flute), viola or 'cello as
1 duet for 2 lutes.
2 trios for lute, violin and 'cello.
1 sonata for harp, with flute and bass.
Several pieces for a musical clock.
A solo for harmonica.
6 duets for violin solo, with viola accompaniments. The
numerous printed duets for 2 violins are only arrangements from
his other works.
30 trios: 20 for 2 violins and bass, 1 for violin solo, viola
concertante and bass, 2 for flute, violin and bass, 3 for 3 flutes,
1 for corno di caccia, violin and 'cello.
77 quartets. The first 18 were published in 3 series; the
next is in MS.; then 1 printed separately; 54 in 9 series of 6
Nos. each; 2 more and the last.


20 concertos and divertimenti: 1 concerto is with principal
violin, 2 only (G and D) have been printed; the last alone
38 trios: 35 with violin and 'cello, 3 with flute and 'cello
Only 31 are printed.
53 sonatas and divertimenti. Only 35 are printed: the one
in C, containing the adagio in F included in all the collections
of smaller pieces, only in London.
4 sonatas for clavier and violin. 8 are published, but 4 of
these are arrangements.
9 smaller pieces, including 5 Nos. of variations, a capriccio, a
fantasia, 2 adagios and "differentes petites pieces."
1 duet (variations).


Church Music

14 masses.
1 Stabat Mater.
2 Te Deums.
13 offertories. 10 of these are taken from other compositions
with Latin text added.
4 motets.
1 Tantum Ergo.
4 Salve Reginas.
1 Regina Coeli.
2 Aves Reginas; Responsoria de Venerabili.
1 Cantilena pro Aventu (German words).
6 sacred arias.
2 duets.


"The Creation."
"The Seasons."
"Il Ritorno di Tobia."
"The Seven Words."
"Invocation of Neptune."
"Applausus Musicus." For the festival of a prelate, 1768.
Cantata for the birthday of Prince Nicolaus, 1763.
Cantata "Die Erwahlung eines Kapellmeisters."


Italian Operas:

"La Canterina," 1769;
"L'Incontro Improviso," 1776;
"Lo Speciale," 1768;
"Le Pescatrice," 1780;
"Il Mondo della Luna," 1877;
"L'Isola Disabitata," 1779;
"Armida," 1782;
"L'Infedelta Delusa," 1773;
"La Fedelta Premiata," 1780;
"La Vera Constanza," 1786;
"Acide e Galatea," 1762;
"Orlando Paladino," 1782;
"Orfeo," London, 1794.

German Opera or Singspiel, "Der Neue Krumme Teufel."
5 marionette operas.
Music for "Alfred," a tragedy, and various other plays.



12 German lieder, 1782;
12 ditto, 1784;
12 single songs;
6 original canzonets, London, 1796;
6 ditto;
"The Spirit Song," Shakespeare (F minor);
"O Tuneful Voice" (E flat), composed for an English lady of position;
3 English songs in MS.;
2 duets;
3 three-part and 10 four-part songs;
3 choruses, MS.;
1 ditto from "Alfred";
The Austrian National Anthem, for single voice and in 4 parts;
42 canons in 2 and more parts;
2 ditto;
"The Ten Commandments" set to canons; the same
with different words under the title "Die zehn Gesetze der Kunst";
symphonies and accompaniments for national songs
in the collections of Whyte, Napier and George Thomson.
22 airs mostly inserted in operas.
"Ariana a Naxos," cantata for single voice and pianoforte, 1790.
"Deutschlands Klage auf den Tod Friedrichs der Grossen,"
cantata for single voice, with baryton accompaniment, 1787.


The Haydn literature is almost entirely Continental. With the
exceptions of Pohl's article in Grove's "Dictionary of Music" and
Miss Townsend's "Haydn," nothing of real importance has appeared
in English. The following list does not profess to be complete.
It seems futile in a book of this kind to refer amateurs and
students to foreign works, many of which are out of print and
others generally inaccessible. For the benefit of English readers
the English works have been placed first and apart from the
Continental. It has not been thought necessary to follow Pohl in
giving a separate list of German and other Continental critiques.
His plan of citing works in the order of their publication has,
however, been adopted as being perhaps preferable to an
alphabetical order of writers.


"History of Music," Vol. IV. Burney London, 1789

"Reminiscences," Vol. I, p. 190 Michael Kelly London, 1826

"Musical Memoirs" Parke London, 1830,
2 vols.

"Letters of Distinguished Musicians." ... London, 1867
Translated from the German by Lady
Wallace. Haydn's Letters, pp. 71-204,
with portrait

"Musical Composers and their Works" Sarah Tytler London, 1875
--Haydn, pp. 57-75

"Music and Morals"--Haydn, Haweis London, 1876
pp. 241-263

Leisure Hour, p. 572. Article, ... London, 1877
"Anecdotes of Haydn"

"The Great Composers Sketched Joseph Bennett London, Musical
by Themselves"--No. 1, Haydn. Times, Sept. 1877
An estimate of Haydn drawn mainly
from his letters

Article on Haydn in Grove's Pohl London, 1879
"Dictionary of Music"

"Studies of Great Composers"--Haydn, Parry London, 1887
pp. 91-118, with portrait

"History of Music," English edition, Naumann London (Cassell),
Vol. IV., pp. 852-882. 1888
Portraits and facsimiles

"Musical Reminiscences"--Music and William Spark London, 1892
Sunshine, pp. 141-149, with quotations
from Haydn's music to show "the happy
state of his mind whilst composing"

"Musical Haunts in London"--Haydn in F. G. Edwards London, 1895
London, pp. 32-36

"The Pianoforte Sonata"--Haydn, J. S. Shedlock London, 1895
pp. 111-120

"Music and Manners from Pergolese Krehbiel London, 1898
to Beethoven"--Haydn in London:
(1) His Note-book; (2) His English
Love, pp. 57-95

"George Thomson, the Friend of Burns" Cuthbert Hadden London, 1898
--Correspondence with Haydn,
pp. 303-308

"Old Scores and New Readings"--Haydn J. F. Runciman London, 1899
and his "Creation," pp. 85-92

"The Birthplace of Haydn: Dr Frank Merrick London, Musical
a Visit to Rohrau" Times, July 1899

"Joseph Haydn" Miss Pauline London, N.D.
in Great Musicians series D. Townsend

Article on Haydn in "Dictionary Riemann London,
of Music." English ed. translated Augener & Co.
by J. S. Shedlock

Autobiographical Sketch by himself. ... 1776
This was made use of by (1) De Luca
in "Das gelehrte Oesterreich," 1778;
(2) in Forkel's "Musikalischer
Almanach fur Deutschland," 1783;
and (3) in the European Magazine
for October 1784. The latter includes
a portrait

"Lexicon." Additional particulars Gerber 1790
are given in 2nd edition, 1812

Musik Correspondenz der teutschen Gerber 1792
Filarm. Gesellschaft, Nos. 17 and 18

Article in Journal des Luxus und Bertuch Weimar, 1805
der Moden

"Brevi notizie istorchie della vita Mayer Bergamo, 1809
e delle opere di Guis. Haydn."

Obituary in the Vaterland. Blatter ... Vienna, 1809
fur den ost Kaiserstaat

"Der Nagedachtenis van J. Haydn" Kinker Amsterdam, 1810

"Biographische Notizen uber Griezinger Leipzig, 1810
Joseph Haydn"

"Biographische Nachrichten von Dies Vienna, 1810
Joseph Haydn"

"Joseph Haydn" Arnold Erfurt, 1810;
2nd ed., 1825

"Notice sur J. Haydn" Framery Paris, 1810

"Notice historique sur la vie et les Le Breton Paris, 1810
ouvrages de Haydn" in the Moniteur.
This was reprinted in the
"Bibliographie Musicale," Paris, 1822.
It was also translated into Portuguese,
with additions by Silva-Lisboa.
Rio Janeiro, 1820

"Essai Historique sur la vie ... Strassburg, 1812
de J. Haydn"

"Le Haydine," etc. Carpani Milan, 1812;
This work was essentially reproduced, 2nd edition,
without acknowledgment, in "Lettres enlarged,
ecrites de Vienne en Autriche," etc., Padua, 1823
by L. A. C. Bombet, Paris, 1814;
republished as "Vie de Haydn, Mozart
et Metastase," par Stendhal, Paris,
1817. Bombet and Stendhal are both
pseudonyms of Henri Beyle. An English
translation of the 1814 work was
published in London by John Murray,
in 1817, under the title of "The Life
of Haydn in a Series of Letters," etc.

"Biogr. Notizen" Grosser Hirschberg, 1826

"Allg. Encyclopadie der Ersch und Gruber Leipzig, 1828
Wissenschaften und Kunste,"
2nd section, 3rd part, with a
biographical sketch by Frohlich

"Allg. Wiener Musikzeitung" ... 1843

"J. Haydn in London, 1791 and 1792" Karajan Vienna, 1861

"Joseph Haydn und sein Bruder Michael" Wurzbach Vienna, 1861

"Joseph Haydn" Ludwig Nordhausen, 1867

"Mozart and Haydn in London" Pohl Vienna, 1867

"Joseph Haydn." Pohl ...
This, the first comprehensive
biography of Haydn, was published
--the first half of Vol. I. in
1875, the second half in 1882.
After the death of Pohl in 1887
it was completed (1890) by
E. V. Mandyczewski

Notice in "Biographie Universelle" Fetis ...


Of the large family born to the Rohrau wheelwright, two, besides
the great composer, devoted themselves to music.

The first, JOHANN EVANGELIST HAYDN, made some little reputation
as a vocalist, and was engaged in that capacity in the Esterhazy
Chapel. His health had, however, been delicate from the first,
and his professional career was far from prosperous.

JOHANN MICHAEL HAYDN was much more distinguished. Born in 1737,
he became, as we have seen, a chorister and solo-vocalist at St
Stephen's, Vienna. He was a good violinist, and played the organ
so well that he was soon able to act as deputy-organist at the
cathedral. In 1757 he was appointed Capellmeister to the Bishop
of Grosswardein, and in 1762 became conductor, and subsequently
leader and organist to Archbishop Sigismund of Salzburg. There he
naturally came in contact with Mozart, in whose biography his
name is often mentioned. Mozart on one occasion wrote two
compositions for him which the archbishop received as Michael
Haydn's. The Concertmeister was incapacitated by illness at the
time, and Mozart came to his rescue to save his salary, which the
archbishop had characteristically threatened to stop. Mozart also
scored several of his sacred works for practice.

Michael Haydn remained at Salzburg till his death in 1806. He had
the very modest salary of 24 pounds, with board and lodging, which
was afterwards doubled; but although he was more than once offered
preferment elsewhere, he declined to leave his beloved Salzburg.
He was happily married--in 1768--to a daughter of Lipp, the
cathedral organist; and with his church work, his pupils--among
whom were Reicha and Weber--and his compositions, he sought
nothing more. When the French entered Salzburg and pillaged the
city in 1801 he was among the victims, losing some property and
a month's salary, but his brother and friends repaired the loss
with interest. This misfortune led the Empress Maria Theresa to
commission him to compose a mass, for which she rewarded him
munificently. Another of his masses was written for Prince
Esterhazy, who twice offered him the vice-Capellmeistership
of the chapel at Eisenstadt. Joseph thought Michael too
straightforward for this post. "Ours is a court life," he said,
"but a very different one from yours at Salzburg. It is
uncommonly hard to do what you want." If any appointment could
have drawn him away from Salzburg it was this; and it is said
that he refused it only because he hoped that the chapel at
Salzburg would be reorganized and his salary raised.

Michael Haydn is buried in a side chapel of St Peter's Church,
Salzburg. A monument was erected in 1821, and over it is an
urn containing his skull. He is described by Pohl as "upright,
good-tempered and modest; a little rough in manners, and in later
life given to drink." His correspondence shows him to have been
a warm-hearted friend; and he had the same devout practice of
initialing his manuscripts as his brother. The latter thought
highly of him as a composer, declaring that his Church
compositions were superior to his own in earnestness, severity of
style and sustained power. When he asked leave to copy the canons
which hung in Joseph's bedroom at Vienna, Joseph replied: "Get
away with your copies; you can compose much better for yourself."
Michael's statement has often been quoted: "Give me good
librettos and the same patronage as my brother, and I should not
be behind him." This could scarcely have been the case, since,
as Pohl points out, Michael Haydn failed in the very qualities
which ensured his brother's success. As it was, he wrote a very
large number of works, most of which remained in manuscript.
A Mass in D is his best-known composition, though mention should
be made of the popular common-metre tune "Salzburg," adapted
from a mass composed for the use of country choirs. Michael
Haydn was nominated the great composer's sole heir, but his
death frustrated the generous intention.


The greater number of Haydn's extant letters deal almost
exclusively with business matters, and are therefore of
comparatively little interest to the reader of his life. The
following selection may be taken as representing the composer in

Book of the day: