Haydn, Franz Joseph

In 1790 Prince Anton Esterhazy, who succeeded Prince Nicholas, dismissed his entire corps of musicians, but Prince Nicholas had left Haydn an annual pension upon the condition that h'e retain the title of chapelmaster to the Esterhazys. Salomon, a violinist and conductor, persuaded Haydn to go to London. He was now nearly sixty years old and had never traveled so far from his home. He was received most enthusiastically in London. He was the object of the most nattering attentions from every one, musicians and music-lovers, great ladies and noble families, and was the guest of the Prince of Wales. He was honored by the degree of Doctor of Music from Oxford University. His compositions, which he was under contract to produce, were waited for impatiently and greeted always with great applause. He left London in 1792 and all Vienna welcomed him home with wild enthusiasm. While in Vienna at this time Haydn paid a visit to his native village, Rohrau, to be present at the inauguration of a monument erected in his honor by Count Harrach, in whose household Haydn's mother had served. It was in 1794 he made his second London visit and met with even greater distinction than before. Haydn, who started life as the son of a poor peasant, who for years had struggled against poverty and had won, was now a rich man and could devote himself to his great works, being at the bidding of no master. In 1797, inspired by national hymns of other countries, he wrote the celebrated song, God Preserve the Emperor, which was afterwards adopted by the Austrians as their national hymn In 1799, March 19, appeared The Creation, and his last great masterpiece, The Seasons, April 24, 1801, when Haydn had reached the age of sixty-nine years. During his later years Haydn was made an honorary member of many institutions; of The Academy of Arts and Sciences at Stockholm, of the Philharmonic Society at Laybach, of the Academy of Arts at Amsterdam, and was presented with gold medals by musicians who performed The Creation at the Opera in Paris, and the professors of the Concert des Amateurs, Paris. Haydn was married in 1760 to Anna Maria Keller. It was a most deplorable marriage and the indifference and petty malignity which she showed for him and his art, her bad temper and shrew-like nature, finally made his life with her intolerable and he left her after a few years, though he always supported her. She died in 1800. In 1803 he made his final appearance as conductor and in 1808 was seen in public for the last time. The occasion was a performance of The Creation at the University of Vienna. All of the great artists of Vienna, among them Beethoven and Hummel, were present, and princes, nobles and the first ladies of the land. Prince Esterhazy sent his carriage for him and as he was being carried into the hall in an armchair the whole audience rose to their feet in testimony of their esteem. When, in the concert, the magnificent passage, "And There Was Light," was reached, Haydn exclaimed, " Not I, but a Power from above created that." Before the performance was over Haydn had to be taken from the hall, and as he was carried out many crowded around to take what they felt to be a last farewell, Beethoven fervently kissed his hand and forehead. When he reached the doorway he asked his bearers to pause, and, turning toward the orchestra, he lifted his hand as though in the act of blessing.   On May 26 he was carried to his piano and played over, three times, his Emperor's Hymn with great emotion. He died on May 31, 1809. As soon as his death was known services were held in all the principal cities of Europe He was buried in a small churchyard just outside of the city of Vienna, but in 1820 his remains were exhumed by command of Prince Esterhazy and reinterred in the upper parish church at Eisenstadt.

A review of the life of Joseph Haydn would hardly be complete without mention of the great friendship which existed between him and Mozart. Mozart dedicated his six great string quartets to Haydn, who said to Leopold Mozart, " I declare to you upon my honor that your son is the greatest composer living." He would believe nothing ill of his friend, for, in his own words, he " loved the man so dearly." Beethoven's relation to Haydn was not so happly a one, though he admired and esteemed the elder composer. Dies, Haydn's biographer, says in describing him, '' Below middle height, legs too short for his body, a defect made more noticeable by his attire, a fashion he refused to change, features regular; expression spirited, at the same time temperate, amiable and winning; face stern when in repose, smiling and cheerful when he conversed. I never heard him laugh. In build firm, but lacking muscle." We know that he was fastidious about his dress; that he appeared at Esterhazy clad in a light blue and silver uniform, knee breeches, white stockings and white neckcloth, and that he always wore a wig from his earliest years, " for the sake of cleanliness," he said. He was often playfully called The Moor, as he was very dark. He had a large aquiline nose, and was heavily pitted with smallpox. In his own opinion he was ugly and he tried to make himself attractive by his neat attire and his manners.