Haydn, Franz Joseph


The Teutons for many years claimed Joseph Haydn as one of their geniuses, but Dr. Kuhac, after much research, wrote, in 1880, a pamphlet proving to the satisfaction of most biographers that Haydn was by birth a Croatian. Trstnk was originally the name of the village where he was born, March 31, 1732. It is situated near the Leitha River, which forms the boundary between lower Austria and Hungary. The name Hajden is of common occurrence throughout Croatia and was undoubtedly the original form of Haydn, which name is known to have passed through several changes in spelling. This confirms the belief that on his father's side he belonged to the Slavonic race. His mother, a native of Rohrau, was the daughter of Koller. Koller was undoubtedly a variant of the Croatian Kolar, meaning wheelwright.

Mathias Haydn was a master wheelwright and the parish sexton of Rohrau. He married Maria Koller, the daughter of a market inspector and cook in the house of Count Harrach. To them were born twelve children, three of whom became musicians; Johann Evangelist, a singer of no great merit; Johann Michael, famous as a composer of churchmusic and as an organist, and Franz Joseph, who was their second child. They were a simple people, hardworking, full of religious faith and piety, which they early instilled in their children. This religious influence followed Haydn all through his life and was a part of his music. Joseph Haydn, or as he was in the Austrian tongue familiarly called Sepperl Haydn, possessed a sweet soprano voice, and when Johann Mathias Frankh, a relative, came to the Haydn home on a visit he at once recognized the boy's talent and offered to take him to Hainburg, where he was a schoolmaster and musician, and to educate the boy. He was but six years old, but already his mother had set her heart upon making of him a priest. His father's and Frankh's persuasions, however, overcame her objections, and the lad left his home for Hainburg. When he was eight years old, Reutter, precentor of St. Stephen's Cathedral Vienna, was in Hainburg searching for boy singers. Frankh induced him to hear Haydn and he was so pleased with the ability that the lad showed, for Haydn had learned all Frankh was capable of teaching him, that he at once offered to take him to Vienna. The school which he entered in Vienna, 1740, was supported by the city, which paid for board, lodging and clothes of the six scholars. The remainder of the household consisted of a cantor, a subcantor, and two ushers. The instruction was, as in Hainburg, in Latin, reading, writing and arithmetic, in addition to music. Haydn studied singing, violin and clavier-playing. Reutter had no intention of helping his pupils to an understanding of the theory of music or of composition; he simply gave them such instruction as was necessary to make their singing in the Cathedral reflect credit upon himself. However, Haydn was determined to learn and he made good use of every book he could find on the theory of music. Music had become his passion, it was his work and his recreation. He even composed a mass while in school, but Reutter laughed at his  work and in no way encouraged him.

In November, 1749, Haydn found himself on the streets, with no home to turn to, no money and only the shabbiest of clothes. Spangler, a tenor of St. Michael's Cathedral choir, found the boy, took him home and shared his attic with him. By playing in the street, and in fact putting his music to use whenever and wherever he could, and by finding a friend who loaned him a small sum of money, he was soon enabled, in 1750, to rent his own attic. His choice  of homes, the old MichaelerHaus in the Kohlmarket, proved a fortunate one, for one lodger in it was Metastasio, the poet, from whom he obtained his first patronage in Vienna, and the lower floor was the town residence of Prince Paul Esterhazy, who twelve years later appointed Haydn to his office at Eisenstadt. There was in the MichaelerHaus a publisher who loaned Haydn music, which he was too poor to buy, compositions of Werner and Bonno and Wagenseil and, above all, the Frederick and Würtemberg volume of C. P. E. Bach. These Haydn read and re-read, copied and analyzed. In 1753, through Metastasio, he was introduced to the famous singingmaster, Porpora, whose constant companion Haydn became. All through Haydn's life his one object was to become a really great musician, and no duty or act which could lead to this result was overlooked. His first mass appeared in 1751; during the same year he wrote instrumental music for a serenade, many graceful minuets for pleasure gardens in Vienna, and his first opera.

In 1755 came the first great opportunity of his career. Karl Joseph Edler von Fürnberg invited Haydn to his country house at Weinzirl, near Melk. He found the usual countryhouse orchestra, consisting of a few strings, a couple of horns and oboes. He saw his opportunity, made use of the principles gained by his study of Bach and applied them to the needs of a miniature orchestra. Here he produced his quartets which are printed in the Paris and London editions. After his year with yon Furnberg he spent some time in Vienna teaching and composing principally for Countess Thun, an enthusiastic amateur musician, who had earlier been attracted by one of his sonatas. She sent for him and engaged him to give her harpsichord and singing lessons. Through Countess Thun and Fürnberg he was introduced to Count Ferdinand Maximilian Morzin, a very wealthy Bohemian nobleman and a lover of music. He appointed Haydn his music-director and composer in 1757. He went to Morzin's home at Lukavec, near Pilsen, where he found a very fair orchestra. This was an important stage of his life. He found opportunity of experimenting in orchestral work. Here he wrote the symphony in D which reflects Bach but at the same time foreshadows the future style of the composer, and was the forerunner of one hundred and twenty-five symphonies. He also at this period composed other concerted works, among them divertimenti.

Prince Paul Esterhazy, after hearing some of Haydn's compositions, invited him to Eisenstadt after Morzin was obliged to disband his orchestra. The contract between Esterhazy and Haydn is still in existence. He went to Eisenstadt in 1761 as second musical director to the great princely family of Esterhazy, one of the most wealthy and influential of the noble families of Hungary. Prince Paul died after Haydn's residence in the family of one year, and Prince Nicholas succeeded him. The demands upon Haydn were severe, but in return he had many advantages. He came in contact with many clever people who were either social or professional guests of Esterhazy. He had a good orchestra at his command, for which he was obliged to compose incessantly. This incited him to close study, and it was during the thirty years with the Esterhazys that he produced many of his masterpieces of chamber and orchestral music.

From 1761 to 1776 Haydn lived at Eisenstadt as second director, and then upon the death of Werner became head director at Eisenstadt, and remained until 1786. While a resident there many honors were conferred upon him. In 1780 the Philharmonic Society of Modena elected him a member; in 1784 Prince Henry of Prussia sent him a gold medal and his portrait in return for six quartets which Haydn had dedicated to him. King Frederick William II. gave him, in 1787, a diamond ring in recognition of his merit as a composer. In 1785 he was commissioned by the chapter of the Cathedral of Cadiz to write music appropriate for Good Friday. The result was The Seven Words of Jesus on the Cross, sometimes called The Passion, a work Haydn declared to be one of his most successful efforts. It was at first composed as an instrumental work, and as such was produced in London by Haydn as a Passione instrumentale. He afterwards introduced solos and choruses. In 1797 it was given at Eisenstadt and four years later published in the new form with a preface by the composer.

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.

Nowhere among his many biographies do we find anything disparaging concerning Haydn as a man. He was an affectionate and devoted son, supporting his parents, caring for relations and friends as soon as he was able, making good a loss Michael Haydn suffered in 1801 when the French pillaged Salzburg; a staunch friend, remembering in his will all those who had in any way succored him. His religion was a strong influence in his life; he possessed great faith in the goodness and greatness of an omnipotent and omnipresent Creator. His was a cheerful, joyous religion, whose creed seemed to be to do justice and kindness, and to give to mankind the best expression of the Divine in man. He said when he was composing The Creation, " I never was so devout as then. Daily I prayed for strength to express myself in accordance with His will." His most marked characteristic was his constant aim at perfection in his art. He disliked anything unreal. He knew the power that was his, and toward the end of his life said, " I know that God has bestowed a talent upon  me and 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 same."

Haydn was first among the great masters to make himself intelligible to the masses. Father, or Papa Haydn was an affectionate term of address applied to him by his younger contemporaries and is significant. He was the father of the sonata form and of the modern symphony, in fact the father of modern instrumental music and of musical humor. His symphonies are known for clearness of style, grace and playfulness; always lucid, finished and free from technical display, serious and profound when occasion demands. He gave impulse to both Mozart and Beethoven as far as their symphony writing is concerned.

Haydn was really the originator of the quartet; it seemed to be a natural means of expressing himself, and his influence on music through it has been greater than that exerted by his symphonies. Although Emanuel Bach was really the reformer of the sonata, Haydn 'left his impress upon it. He wrote many graceful and delicate songs, but they do not display the genius of his other works and many are now forgotten. Of his masses, the Mariazell in C major, and the Cecilia in same key, will always maintain their place among masterpieces of their kind. His operas and other light vocal works seem to have passed away, obscured, as it were, y his greater works. The Creation and The Seasons, which have been performed all over the world and which even in Haydn's time became immensely popular, are the culmination of a long, well-lived life. The following is a partial list of Haydn's compositions: one hundred and twenty-five symphonies; thirty trios for strings and wind; seventy-seven quartets for strings; twenty concertos for clavier; thirty-one concertos for various instruments; thirty-eight trios for piano and strings; fifty-five sonatas and divertissements for clavier; four sonatas for clavier and violin; fourteen masses; one Stabat Mater; eight oratorios and cantatas, nineteen operas; forty-two canons for voice in two or more parts; one hundred and seventy-five pieces for barytone; and a vast collection of other works, numbering over three hundred.