Haym, Nicolo Francesco

About 1679-1729

Exact date of birth is not known, but it was probably about 1679. He was born in Rome, of German parentage, and the latter half of his life was spent in England. In 1706 he played the principal violoncello in Clayton's Orsinoe, an opera adapted from Buononcini and produced at Drury Lane. His first known works as composer were the alteration of Buononcini's Thonryris for the stage and Scarlatti's Pyrrhus and Demetrius. The last he often claimed as his own, as he added the libretto and a number of songs of much merit. Haym attempted to establish Italian opera in London and Pyrrhus and Demetrius was sung, partly in Italian and partly in English. For two years, or until the arrival of Handel, the above operas continued in popularity. Haym protested strongly against the new style of music, but was finally won over, to the extent of writing the libretto for Handel's Teseo and later for several of Handel's other operas. As a composer he never received the recognition his works seem to merit. The set of two sonatas for two violins and bass show a truly artistic touch. He wrote in Italian a History of Music and intended to translate it into English, but, lacking encouragement, failed to do so and finally abandoned a musical career and became a collector of pictures. He is best known as a cellist.