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Title: Joseph Haydn - Servant and Master
Author: Peyser, Herbert F.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Joseph Haydn - Servant and Master" ***

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                           HERBERT F. PEYSER

                              Joseph Haydn
                           Servant and Master

                          [Illustration: logo]

                      Written for and dedicated to
                             RADIO MEMBERS
                              of NEW YORK

                             Copyright 1950
                              of NEW YORK
                          113 West 57th Street
                           New York 19. N. Y.

   [Illustration: Haydn at 33, in the gold embroidered uniform of the


In this sketchy and unpretentious booklet the reader must not expect to
find any thoroughgoing or penetrating discussion of Haydn’s works or,
for that matter, more than a hasty and superficial account of his
career. Haydn wrote an appalling quantity of music, some of which has to
this day not been finally catalogued. In a pamphlet of this brief and
unoriginal sort the reader will look in vain for anything more than the
titles of a handful of compositions. About the vast number of
symphonies, the magnificent string quartets, the clavier works, the
songs there can here be no question. Nor can one do more than allude to
a few of the stage pieces though these operas, composed for the most
part for the festivities arranged by the Eszterházy princes, do not
pretend to fill a role in the history of the lyric drama comparable to
those of Mozart or even to the _intermezzi_ and the _buffas_ of the 18th
Century Italians or the _Singspiele_ of men like Dittorsdorf and Hiller.
Neither is there room to consider the technical advancements achieved by
Haydn in the sonata or symphonic form. Yet, even a rapid glance through
the following pages will, none the less, make it clear that Haydn,
barring a few hardships in his youth, lived an extraordinarily fortunate
life and had abundant reason for the optimism which marked every step of
his progress. Not even Mendelssohn was so unendingly lucky, whether in
his spiritual constitution or in his year by year experiences. That
Haydn was a master by the grace of Heaven and a servant only by the
artificial conventions of a temporary social order must become clear to
anyone who follows his amazing development in the biography of Pohl and
Botstiber, or the briefer but no less deeply perceptive accounts of a
scholar like Dr. Karl Geiringer, on whose writings and analyses the
present little account is chiefly based.

                                                                H. F. P.

                              JOSEPH HAYDN
                          _Servant and Master_

                           HERBERT F. PEYSER

When Mendelssohn first heard Haydn’s “Grand Organ Mass” he found it
“scandalously merry.” Now, this work, composed at Eszterháza in 1766,
was by no means a mature effort and it might have been reasonable to
ascribe its exuberance to the high spirits of a young man of uncommonly
slow artistic development. But the fact is that, virtually to the end of
his days, Haydn did not outgrow a joyfulness rooted in an unfaltering
optimism of soul. This is not to say that his creative inspiration and
originality did not enormously deepen and ramify and, particularly in
his later years, foreshadow in startling fashion some of the most
influential romantic devices of the nineteenth century. Yet his heart
preserved unchanged that serene geniality of his youth. As much as
anything else his churchly compositions disclose this trait, and even
his later masses are distinguished by a good deal of that “merriment”
which shocked Mendelssohn and not a few others.

“I don’t know how to do it otherwise,” he once told his friend, the poet
Carpani, when the question of his treatment of the mass came up. “I have
to give what is in me! When I think of God, my heart is so full of joy
that the notes fly from me as from a spindle. And as God has given me a
joyful heart He will surely pardon me if I serve Him cheerfully!” With
these words he set about revising that selfsame “scandalously jolly”
Mass of 1766, making it even more “scandalous” by the addition of some
cheery wind instrument parts. Having finished a work and signed it, he
would almost unfailingly add a pious inscription, such as “Soli Deo
Gloria”, “Laus Deo” or “In Nomine Domini”.

One of the outstanding authorities on Haydn today, Dr. Karl Geiringer,
alludes to the “deep religious sense, stubborn tenacity of purpose and a
passionate desire to rise in the world” as qualities which could be
found in all Haydn’s ancestors, “combined with a great pride in good
craftsmanship, a warm love of the soil and a healthy streak of
sensuality.” Certainly, his boyhood was not calculated to make of him an
incorrigible optimist had not this quality been bred in his bones.
Rohrau, the little town in which he was born, is an unattractive place
in a flat and marshy country, where the frequently overflowing Leitha
River forms a border between Austria and Hungary. The houses are low,
built of clay and roofed with thatch, which often catches fire in the
hot, dry summers. Dr. Geiringer tells that Haydn’s house was burned in
1813, 1833 and 1899, but always restored so carefully that few but
specialists could tell the difference. The place was probably no worse
than other neighboring cottages and farms; yet we are told that
Beethoven, in his last illness, being shown a picture of it, exclaimed:
“To think that such a great man should have been born in so poor a
home!” while some years later, Liszt, on catching sight of it, burst
into tears.

   [Illustration: Haydn’s birthplace at Rohrau-on-the-Leitha, on the
                       Austro-Hungarian border.]

Haydn’s father, Mathias Haydn, was born in the nearby town of Hainburg;
his antecedents were hard-working, honest men, farmers, vinegrowers,
millers, wheel-wrights. Of musicians or artists there was not one among
them. Mathias was a wheel-wright and wagon-builder, like his forebears.
When he finished his apprenticeship he set out on a trip, after the
tradition of a journeyman, and went, we are told, as far as
Frankfurt-on-the-Main. On his wanderings he bought himself a harp.
Someone taught him to play it (he could not read a note of music)
sufficiently to accompany himself in his favorite folk-tunes, which he
sang “in a pleasant tenor voice”. In 1727 he settled in Rohrau, though
he remained a member of the Hainburg guild of wheel-wrights. It is
possible that he chose the unattractive market town in place of the more
imposing and picturesque Hainburg because Maria Koller lived in Rohrau.
Maria was a cook in the employ of the Counts of Harrach, the lords of
Rohrau. She appears to have been a clever culinary artist (Dr. Geiringer
says she “had to handle such delicacies as turtles and crayfish and had
an abundance of material at her disposal.” We are told for example, that
something like 8000 eggs, 200 capons and 300 chickens were delivered
annually to the castle by the inhabitants of Rohrau as part of their
duties to their patron.) At any rate, in 1728, she married the
wagon-maker, Mathias Haydn, and brought her husband a dowry of 120
florins and an “honest outfit.” The couple was by no means what could be
called “poor” (in spite of Beethoven’s pathetic exclamation and Liszt’s
tears!), but Maria Haydn saw to it that ends met, as they had to,
considering there were twelve children (of whom half died in infancy).
Moreover she was a model housewife and had inherited a deeply religious
strain. It was her fondest wish to see her great son become a Catholic
priest rather than prefer “the irresponsible life of a musician.” She,
alas, did not live to witness his first artistic successes. As for
Mathias, who was very adequately paid for doing all sorts of odd jobs
for the Counts of Harrach, his wife had the satisfaction of seeing him
succeed her father in the judicial office of “Marktrichter.” He was
“responsible for the good conduct of the population, kept a sharp
look-out for adultery and gambling; saw that people went to church and
did not break the Sunday rest ... while every Sunday morning at 6 he had
to report to the steward of Count Harrach” (Geiringer). He had a wine
cellar, farmland and cattle. He and his wife were of Austro-German
origin, not Hungarians or Croats.

Franz Joseph Haydn (his family called their children by their second
names—hence the famous brother, Johann Michael, has come down into
history as Michael Haydn) was born on March 31, 1732, the second child
of the Haydn couple. In only one respect did he show himself different
from his paternal and maternal ancestors—at an astonishingly early age
“Sepperl” (Austrian diminutive for Joseph) manifested musical talent.
This talent took the form of a gift for singing, a lovely voice and an
amazingly correct intonation, not to mention a sense of rhythm which
disclosed itself in various ways. If he had no skill in playing any kind
of instrument (though he greatly wished to imitate his father’s
performances on the harp) he would find himself a couple of sticks and
by means of these try to “play” the violin, as he had seen the Rohrau
schoolmaster do. The wonder of the neighbors became aroused, and the
more “Sepperl” gave signs of other than simply manual abilities the more
ardently his mother prayed that heaven might make him a teacher or,
better still, a priest. For the last, the boy actually displayed a
predisposition. The child had a streak of piety in him which remained
with the man to the end.

                                 * * *

One day a cousin of Mathias, a certain Johann Mathias Franck, came over
from Hainburg. Franck seemed a person sent by Providence to further
Maria Haydn’s wishes. He was a school official, as well as precentor of
the Church of St. Philip and St. James. At once he noticed “Sepperl’s”
musical inclinations and told the parents they would be wise to allow
him to take the boy to Hainburg, where he could be more thoroughly
schooled than in Rohrau. Naturally, he was ready to supply the
youngster’s bed and board (for which, he assumed, his cousin Mathias
would be willing to pay). The good Maria hesitated. “Sepperl” was not
yet six and though he would not be far away she felt uncertain how soon
or how often she might see her boy. And what of those holy orders?
Franck brushed the objections aside; the boy should have care and
understanding, not to forget an education unobtainable in a village.
Moreover, if “Sepperl” were eventually to take holy orders his musical
training would be most helpful.

The die was cast! The barely six year old lad left his father’s roof,
never to return, save for a most brief and infrequent visit. “Sepperl’s”
mother was right. To all intents, the boy had left his family forever.
Yet throughout his life Haydn harbored the tenderest feelings for his
mother and never reproached her for permitting him to leave her. “She
had always given the most tender care to his welfare”, he told his
intimates when he was an old man. And Karl Geiringer, in his beautiful
Haydn biography, recounts how, in 1795, “when the then world-famous
composer visited Rohrau to see the monument erected in his honor by
Count Harrach, he knelt down and kissed the threshold of the humble
cottage he had shared with his parents for less than six years.”

Impressions crowded on “Sepperl” in Hainburg. He had numerous
opportunities to assist Franck in his miscellaneous and seemingly
unending tasks in the school house, on the organ bench, in conducting
the singers and instrumentalists at church services. One of the duties
of Franck (and to some extent, no doubt, of the boy Haydn) was to keep
the church register, look after the church clock and ring the bells for
services “and for special occasions, such as thunderstorms”. In an
autobiographical sketch which Haydn wrote in 1778 he said, among other
things: “Our Almighty Father had endowed me with so much facility in
music that even in my sixth year I stood up like a man and sang Masses
in the church choir and I could play a little on the clavier and
violin.” And his biographer, Georg August Griesinger, tells that Haydn
studied “the kettledrum as well as other instruments.”

“Sepperl” was kept at work without respite, but he apparently throve on
all this learning, all this musical practice and all the household
chores which Franck’s wife heaped upon him. Juliana Franck was not at
all like his mother. If she expected the boy to help in the household
she did not worry about his increasing untidiness. “I could not help
perceiving”, said Haydn in his old age when he talked of his Hainburg
experiences “that I was gradually getting very dirty, and though I
thought rather highly of my little person, I was not always able to
avoid stains on my clothes—of which I was dreadfully ashamed; in fact I
was a regular little ragamuffin!” Like Schubert at the “Konvikt” he was
grossly “undernourished”. He wore a wig “for cleanliness’ sake”. Yet his
education, both musical and otherwise, was greatly furthered by his
sojourn in Hainburg. Even if he was hungry and dirty, nothing embittered
him. And in after years he said of Franck: “I shall be grateful to that
man as long as I live, for keeping me so hard at work.” And he had a
picture of his early master wherever he lived, besides remembering
Franck’s daughter in his will.

                                 * * *

Now, however, occurred another of those strokes of good fortune which
punctuated Haydn’s life from his cradle to his grave. Just as Franck
turned up in Rohrau to take him to Hainburg, so now there appeared in
Hainburg a young man from Vienna who set “Sepperl’s” feet squarely on
his further path. Karl Georg Reutter, composer and choirmaster at St.
Stephen’s in the capital, was on a trip looking for good choristers. At
Hainburg Reutter stayed at the home of the pastor, Anton Palmb, who
immediately called his guest’s attention to a boy from Rohrau who had “a
weak but sweet voice.” Haydn’s friend, the Italian Carpani, has left us
the story of the meeting in some detail: “Reutter gave him a tune to
sing at sight. The precision, the purity of tone, the spirit with which
the boy executed it surprised him; but he was especially charmed with
the beauty of the young voice. He remarked that the lad did not trill,
and smilingly asked him the reason. The boy replied promptly: ‘How can
you expect me to trill when my cousin does not know how to himself?’ ‘I
will teach you’, said Reutter; ‘mark me, I will trill’; and taking the
boy between his knees, he showed him how he should produce the notes in
rapid succession, control his breath, and agitate the palate. The boy
immediately made a good shake. Reutter, enchanted with the success of
his pupil, took a plate of fine cherries and emptied them into the boy’s
pocket. His delight may be readily conceived. Haydn often mentioned this
anecdote to me and added, laughing, that whenever he happened to trill
he still thought he saw those beautiful cherries.” Reutter offered to
take “Sepperl” to Vienna to be a choirboy at St. Stephens as well as to
give him a much more thorough musical education than he had received so
far. The matter having been put up to his father and mother, they agreed
instantly and with delight, the more so as Reutter promised “to look
after their boy.” It was agreed that the lad should start for Vienna
when he was eight. His new master gave him some exercises in
scale-singing and sight-reading to work at in the meanwhile and, while
waiting for the great day to arrive, the youngster diligently worked by
himself to develop his voice.

Installed at the Cantor’s house, next to St. Stephen’s, in Vienna,
“Sepperl’s” illusions presently suffered a chill. Reutter suddenly
turned into a hard taskmaster and an unsympathetic disciplinarian. He
was responsible for the education, feeding and clothing of his
choirboys, but the meals were wholly insufficient, indeed skimpier than
what he had in Hainburg. A. C. Dies writes: “Joseph’s stomach had to get
accustomed to continuous fasting. He tried to make up for it with the
musical ‘academies’ (concerts given by the choir in the houses of the
Viennese nobility), where refreshments were offered to the choristers.
As soon as Joseph made this discovery, so important for his stomach, he
was seized with an incredible love for ‘academies’. He endeavored to
sing as beautifully as possible so as to be known and invited as a
skilled performer, and thus find occasions to appease his ravenous
hunger.” Moreover Joseph’s musical education was rather one-sided and
apart from singing and a little violin and clavier playing Reutter did
not bother about his young charge’s training in musical theory. Dr.
Geiringer relates that when, on one occasion, Reutter found Joseph
working on a twelve-part “Salve Regina” he asked with a sneer: “Oh, you
silly child, aren’t two parts enough for you?” But that was about as
much as the instruction amounted to. Reutter was actually a composer of
no inconsiderable distinction, whose teaching could have been of great
help to the aspiring youngster. But in after years Haydn said that he
had only two lessons from this master. All the same, he had priceless
chances to hear much of the best contemporary sacred music. To Johann
Friedrich Rochlitz he once confided: “Proper teachers I have never had.
I always started right away with the practical side, first in singing
and playing instruments, later in composition. I listened more than I
studied but I heard the finest music in all forms that was to be heard
in my time, and of this there was much in Vienna. Oh, so much! I
listened attentively and tried to turn to good account what most
impressed me. Thus little by little my knowledge and my ability were

The boys from St. Stephen’s sometimes had a chance to perform at the
Empress Maria Theresia’s newly built palace of Schönbrunn. When the
choir was on one occasion commanded to sing there Joseph, in a burst of
boyish exuberance, climbed some scaffolding and appeared suddenly before
the Empress’s window. Unawed by the imperial threats the boy repeated
the exploit a little later until Maria Theresia ordered the choirmaster
to give this “fair-haired blockhead” a proper thrashing. However, being
extremely musical herself, and a singer of uncommon merits in the
bargain, the Empress could appreciate Joseph’s execution of various
church solos. And he was happier than ever when Michael Haydn joined the
St. Stephen’s choir and added his exceptionally beautiful soprano voice,
of three octaves range, to the ensemble. Joseph was given the duty of
instructing his younger brother in a number of matters. Before long
Michael’s talents were such as to make him outshine Joseph’s. The latter
does not appear to have openly displayed any feelings of jealousy. Yet
it might be inquiring too closely to ask if the older boy was wholly
pleased when his solos were taken away from him and given to his
brother, whose singing so delighted the Emperor and Empress that they
once accorded him a special audience, congratulated him and gave him a
substantial money present. The good Michael promptly sent half of the
money to his father, who had lately lost a cow, and gave the rest to
Reutter to save for him. Reutter took such care of it that poor Michael
never saw a penny of it!

                                 * * *

Suddenly Joseph’s luck seemed to turn against him. His voice cracked.
Maria Theresia began to complain, about 1745, that the boy was “crowing
like a cock.” Joseph was keenly distressed, a fact which was not lost on
Reutter. He summoned Joseph and intimated that there was a means of
doing something about it. _Castrati_ had well-paid positions in the
imperial chapel. Joseph seems to have been wise enough to notify his
father. Mathias Haydn went post-haste to Vienna and the scheme was
dropped. Reutter now waited for his next chance to be rid of a useless
chorister. He soon found it, for some imp of mischief provoked Joseph to
cut off the pig-tail of another boy. “You will be caned on the hand”,
shouted Reutter to the seventeen-year-old Joseph; “of course, you will
be expelled after you have been caned”, he went on. And on a chilly
November morning in 1749, Haydn found himself on the street, penniless,
with exactly three torn shirts and a threadbare coat! If he still
remembered his mother’s wish that he should take holy orders he might
presently have had a roof over his head. But he had a deep assurance
that his destiny lay elsewhere; neither did he appeal to his father for
help, because he knew the little household at Rohrau was at the moment
passing through a financially difficult time.

As he wandered irresolutely, uncertain where he could spend the night
and where his next meal would come from, he met a certain Joseph Michael
Spangler, a singer from St. Michael’s Church, near the Hofburg. Haydn
knew Spangler very slightly but he poured his tale of woe into
sympathetic ears. Spangler was himself all but a pauper. He lived in a
garret with his wife and a nine-months-old baby. Nevertheless he
instantly begged his distressed young friend to follow him home. Joseph
might sleep in the garret, which was a trifle better than the cold
street. About food Spangler could not guarantee, since he and his little
family had themselves barely enough to subsist on.

Little by little Haydn set about making connections. He played the
violin at dances, he found a few pupils (at absurdly low rates, it is
true), he arranged for sundry instruments some trifling compositions by
musically illiterate amateurs; or he participated in street serenades,
which were vastly popular in Vienna. Such “Nachtmusiken” were more
elaborate affairs than the love songs with guitar accompaniment
customary in Italy. Here trios, quartets and even ensembles of
wind-instruments performed compositions of some length and diversity.
Crowds gathered, windows were filled with listeners and the players
earned money and applause. Haydn not only played in these street
performances, he wrote pieces for use at them. The folk music of Vienna
served him well for this purpose, as did the melodies from those border
regions where he was born and which were tinged with foreign strains and
even exotic influences. In some incredible way he made enough for
several months to keep body and soul together. Then a new problem
developed. The Spanglers expected a new baby and now the wretched garret
was definitely too small to house Haydn any longer. The young musician
got around his difficulties temporarily by joining a party of pilgrims
traveling to the wonder-working shrine of the Virgin at Mariazell, in
one of the loveliest recesses of the Austrian Alps. His voice having
returned to him Haydn made an effort to secure a position in the
Mariazell church and appealed to the choirmaster. That worthy was not
impressed by the newcomer’s appearance and suspected a swindler
masquerading as an itinerant musician. Thereupon, the story goes, Haydn
resorted to a bold stratagem. He returned to the church, made his way to
the choir, suddenly snatched a piece of music from an astonished singer
and sang it so beautifully that, as Geiringer relates, “all the choir
held their breath to listen”. As a result Haydn was invited to stay a
week as the choirmaster’s guest and actually earned a sum of money from
the delighted musicians of Mariazell. And luck, as he found, begets
luck. For soon afterwards, a certain Viennese tradesman, Anton Buchholz,
resolved to help the young man carry on his studies and loaned him
“unconditionally” a sum of money which may well have seemed
extraordinary at this stage.

Haydn came back from his pilgrimage to Mariazell rich enough to look for
a garret of his own. He found one, partitioned off from a larger room,
on the sixth floor of the old Michaelerhaus, adjoining St. Michael’s
Church, at the south end of the Kohlmarkt. Both house and church are
still standing, looking to all intents as they did in 1750. Haydn had
plenty of neighbors in his attic. Among them were a cook, a journeyman,
a printer, a footman, and a man who tended the fires in the house of
some rich man. Haydn had six hard flights to climb, besides which there
was no window, no stove, no conveniences of any sort. If he wanted to
wash in the morning he had to get water from a nearby spring and by the
time he brought it up it had often turned to ice. But he had a slight
degree of privacy, enough quiet to study and even to play on a ratty old
clavier which, somehow or other, he had managed to drag upstairs. He got
hold of a number of theoretical books—Johann Joseph Fux’s “Gradus ad
Parnassum,” Mattheson’s “Vollkommener Capellmeister,” Kellner’s
“Unterricht im Generalbass”—and figuratively devoured them. And on his
clavier he played the first six piano sonatas of Philipp Emanuel Bach.
“Innumerable times”, he afterwards related, “I played them for my own
delight, especially when I felt oppressed and discouraged by worries;
and always I left the instrument gay and in high spirits.”

At that time, however, he established two important ties. One was the
famous harlequin, Kurz-Bernardon, who enjoyed an immense popular vogue
by his clever clowning and who managed the Kärntnertor Theatre.
Kurz-Bernardon had an unusually beautiful wife, whose blandishments
justified numerous serenades. On one occasion, when Haydn performed in
one of these, the comedian, struck by the music he heard, appeared at
his door to ask who had composed it. “I did”, answered Joseph; whereupon
the actor bade him “Come upstairs!” Not only was he rewarded with an
introduction to the lady but, according to Carpani, Joseph left with an
opera libretto in his pocket and a commission to compose it at once. The
opera was called “Der krumme Teufel” (“The Limping Devil”). Haydn wrote
the music in a couple of days, but as some nobleman imagined the piece a
lampoon on himself, the work was forbidden before it was ever presented.
One effect in the score the composer admitted had given him more trouble
than “writing a fugue with a double subject.” This was a musical
description of a storm at sea which the play called for. Now, neither
Haydn nor Kurz-Bernardon had ever seen the sea, let alone a storm on it!
Carpani’s tale is most amusing: “How can a man describe what he knows
nothing about? Bernardon, all agitation, paced up and down, while the
composer was seated at the harpsichord. ‘Imagine’, said the actor, ‘a
mountain rising and then a valley sinking, and then another mountain and
another valley....’ This fine description was of no avail and in vain
did the comedian add thunder and lightning. At last, young Haydn, out of
patience, extended his hands to the two ends of the harpsichord and
bringing them in a _glissando_ rapidly together, he exclaimed: ‘The
devil take the tempest!’ ‘That’s it, that’s it’, cried the harlequin,
springing upon his neck and almost stifling him.”

The second acquaintance proved vastly more influential than
Kurz-Bernardon. In the same house—though considerably further downstairs
lived the great Pietro Metastasio, author of innumerable opera librettos
and poet laureate to the Habsburgs. Metastasio, who may have heard
Haydn’s improvisings from afar, was apparently struck by them. He was
interested in the musical training of a friend and suggested the young
pianist up in the garret as a suitable teacher. Haydn was not paid for
his teaching in cash, but he enjoyed free board and a cultured
atmosphere. He became acquainted with Metastasio, whose courtliness and
sensibility could hardly have failed to exercise a most advantageous
effect upon a youth so predisposed to benefit by genteel contacts.
Moreover, Haydn was equally fortunate in meeting his pupil’s singing
master, the great voice teacher and famous composer, Niccolo Porpora,
who spent some years in Vienna. Haydn acted as accompanist in these
lessons and soon begged to be taken into Porpora’s employ as pianist and
pupil in singing and composition, in exchange offering to do the now old
and testy Italian every kind of menial service. Surely it was worth an
occasional cuff and kick, he figured, even seasoned with a few
“blockheads”, if the great Porpora would take the trouble to correct his
musical exercises, give him an insight into the deep secrets of singing
and show him how best to write for the voice. So he cheerfully brushed
the old gentleman’s clothes, cleaned his shoes and saw that his wig was
on straight. For three months Haydn served his peppery master. And in
that time the young man made inestimable progress of all sorts—one of
which was to acquire a fluent command of Italian.

                                 * * *

Joseph, for all his ambition and diligence, may yet have tasted a drop
of bitterness when he reflected how his brother, Michael, seemed still
to outstrip him; and when their mother died in 1754 she must have gone
to her grave persuaded that the truer musician of the Haydn family was
Michael who, at 17, was writing masses of exceptional quality. Joseph
was, indeed, gradually gaining admission into noble circles. The
Countess Thun, for one, was so pleased by some of his sonatas that she
asked to make his acquaintance. Then, when he confronted her face to
face, she decided that this homely and badly-dressed individual, could
hardly be anything but an impostor. Little by little the unfavorable
impression wore off and in due course the distinguished and extremely
musical lady was taking clavier and singing lessons from the man she had
mistaken for a hopeless booby. Through her family Haydn met the very
musical Karl Joseph von Fürnberg, who had a steward, a pastor and still
another friend, all very proficient players. And it was for Fürnberg and
his intimates that Haydn wrote his first string quartets. He was as
industrious as ever. Carpani said: “At daybreak he took the part of the
first violin at the Church of the Fathers of the Order of Mercy; thence
he repaired to the chapel of Count Haugwitz, where he played the organ;
at a later hour he sang the tenor part at St. Stephen’s; and lastly,
having been on foot all day, he passed a part of the night at the
harpsichord.” Then, in 1759, Fürnberg brought him to the attention of
the Bohemian Count Ferdinand Maximilian von Morzin, who promptly engaged
him as music director and _Kammerkompositor_. Socially, financially and
otherwise Haydn had made a great step up the ladder, from which he was
destined never again to descend.

One of Haydn’s duties at Count Morzin’s was to accompany the Countess
Morzin when she chose to sing, which was frequently. Once, according to
Griesinger, the lady was trying over some songs with Haydn when her
scarf became loose, exposing her bosom. Instantly, Haydn stopped
playing. The lady, irritated, asked the reason. “But, your Highness, who
would not lose his head over this?” he replied. This was only one of the
occasions he began to develop an eye for feminine beauty. He was now
maturing, physically, and his fortunes were improving. This conjunction
of circumstances made him conclude that the time was ripe for him to
marry. It turned out to be one of the most unfortunate inspirations of
his life. Not that Haydn would have failed to make a good husband, but
for the reason that it was his fate to pick the worst possible wife.

He gave lessons to the two daughters of a Viennese hairdresser named
Keller. It was not long before the composer fell in love with the
younger girl, whose name was Therese. But Therese was afflicted with
something of a religious mania and, about 1760, she entered a convent,
as Sister Josepha. The hair-dresser, though a religious man, wanted to
keep the promising young musician in the family, and before long he
prevailed upon him to consider his other daughter. The latter, Maria
Anna Aloysia Apollonia, offered the vilest imaginable combination of
qualities. She was hopelessly unmusical, poisonously jealous, bigoted,
ill-favored, slatternly, a bad housekeeper and, as such women frequently
are, outrageously extravagant.

Haydn got nothing he had bargained for—neither affection, home comforts
nor children. So little regard did Maria Anna Aloysia have for her
husband’s musical eminence that she cheerfully used his manuscripts for
curl papers or else to line pie plates and cake pans. Furthermore, said
Haydn, “my wife was unable to bear children and for this reason I was
less indifferent to the attractions of other women” (Griesinger). Some
have claimed that this Xantippe actually loved her husband, on the
grounds that she obstinately refused to give up a certain picture of
him. Dr. Geiringer says the composer was so little deluded by this
seeming show of affection that he insisted his wife prized the portrait
so highly only because a lover of hers had painted it.

   [Illustration: Haydn about 1770, composing at his clavier, in the
                         palace at Eszterháza.]

At Maria Anna’s invitation the house was overrun with numberless
priests, who were liberally entertained at the Haydn residence and given
orders for innumerable masses, which were straightway charged to the
composer’s account. She could never forget that her husband had
originally preferred her younger sister and she was violently jealous of
the attraction he never failed to exercise on fascinating women. In his
fluent Italian Haydn once remarked to the French violinist, Baillot, as
he pointed out his wife’s picture: “E la mia moglie; m’ha ben fatta
arrabiare!” (“That is my wife; she has often infuriated me!”). To an
Italian singer, who held a firm place in his heart, Haydn spoke many
years later of “my wife, that infernal beast”, who had plagued him with
such malicious letters that he had to threaten he would never return to
her. Geiringer believes that Haydn “must have felt a diabolical pleasure
when he came across the following Lessing poem for which he composed a

  _If in the whole wide world
  But one mean wife there is,
  How sad that each of us
  Should think this one is his!_”

Maria Anna Aloysia was further annoyed that her husband should have
spent so much on various poor relations; in return, she gave
considerable sums to the church. When in 1800 she died while taking a
cure at Baden, Haydn seems to have received the news with complete

                                 * * *

Haydn composed his first symphony for the household orchestra of Count
Morzin. As a kind fate would have it one of the guests who listened to
the work was Prince Paul Anton Eszterházy, of the powerful and
enormously wealthy Hungarian family. He was charmed by the symphony and
reflected what a priceless acquisition this young composer would be for
his court at Eisenstadt. Here was a man reared in the grand tradition of
the Eszterházys, always noted for their encouragement of music and other
arts. Prince Paul, a talented composer in his own right, collected
numberless pictorial masterworks, kept a small but trained orchestra and
for years had employed a now aging conductor, Gregorius Joseph Werner.

It was only a short time after Paul Eszterházy had visited the Morzins
that the last-named noble found himself in monetary straits. Among the
first luxuries sacrificed were the expensive orchestra and its
conductor. But instantly Haydn found a safer haven. Prince Eszterházy,
remembering the composer and conductor of the enchanting symphony, acted
at the first news of the Morzin débacle to secure him for himself.
Haydn, offered the post of assistant conductor, accepted with delight.

                                 * * *

On May 1, 1761, Haydn received a contract, of great length and elaborate
detail, which is too extensive to reproduce in all its particulars.
Here, however, are a few of its specifications:

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

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

“The said Joseph Heyden shall appear daily in the antechamber before and
after midday, and inquire whether his Highness is pleased to order a
performance of the orchestra.... The said Vice-Capellmeister shall take
careful charge of all music and musical instruments, and be responsible
for any injury that may occur to them from carelessness or neglect....
The said Joseph Heyden shall be obliged to instruct the female
vocalists, in order that they may not forget in the country what they
have been taught with much trouble and expense in Vienna; and since the
Vice-Capellmeister is proficient on various instruments he shall take
care himself to practice on all that he is acquainted with.... A yearly
salary of 400 florins to be received in quarterly payments is hereby
bestowed by his Serene Highness upon the said Vice-Capellmeister. In
addition, the said Joseph Heyden shall board at the officers’ table, or
receive half a gulden per day in lieu thereof.

“His Serene Highness undertakes to keep Joseph Heyden in his service for
at least three years; and should he be satisfied with him, he may look
forward to being appointed Capellmeister....”

                                 * * *

Eisenstadt was to be Haydn’s home for the next thirty years, and in the
service of the Eszterházys he was to do much—though by no means all—of
his greater work. The palace of Eszterháza was a modest place when the
composer first joined the Eszterházy staff compared with the gorgeous
domain it became not very long afterwards. Haydn was, if you will, a
servant. He wrote music to order and went, properly attired, at certain
times of day, to receive the prince’s directions. Dr. Geiringer says:
“To await the commands of so exalted a personage as Prince Eszterházy
... was not humiliating for a man who had only recently risen from the
depths of poverty.” Even the fact of having to wear livery did not irk
him. We are told that old Mathias Haydn (who died in 1765) still lived
“to experience the joy of seeing his son in the princely blue uniform
braided with gold.”

Prince Paul Eszterházy was gathered to his fathers in 1762. Haydn became
the servitor of an Eszterházy who artistically was greatly the superior
of Paul Anton. This one was Prince Nicholas, surnamed “the Magnificent”,
because of his love of splendor and the wealth which enabled him to
indulge his most luxurious tastes. He now undertook to erect a palace
which rivaled Versailles and which, in fact, was a glorified imitation
of the French model. Eszterháza became a vast dream palace compared to
the one where Haydn had first assumed his new post. It is impossible to
give here even the faintest idea of the splendor and sumptuousness of
this “Hungarian Versailles”. An opera house and a theatre for puppet
shows formed part of this superlative show-place; and concert rooms
suited whatever kind of musical performances might be commanded by the
prince. When distinguished guests arrived the brilliancy of the
festivities arranged for their enjoyment knew no limits. The Empress
Maria Theresia visited the Eszterházy estate in 1773 and a special
booklet published in Vienna gives an account of the festivities on that
occasion, which reads like something out of the Arabian Nights. One of
the musical works performed was Haydn’s little lyric comedy,
“L’infedeltà delusa”. The Empress was so delighted that she is said to
have remarked: “If I want to enjoy good opera, I go to Eszterháza.” On
the same evening there was a superb masked ball, following which, in the
Chinese Pavilion, the orchestra, in brilliant uniforms, played a number
of pieces under Haydn’s leadership, one of them the conductor’s new
“Maria Theresia” Symphony. The ball continued all night, though the
Empress—understandably enough—had retired. Next day she heard another
Haydn opera (for marionettes), “Philemon and Baucis”, which Maria
Theresia enjoyed so much that she had the whole production sent to
Vienna for her entertainment. Haydn received the usual snuff-box filled
with gold pieces. He, in return, presented the imperial lady with three
grouse he had shot down; the Empress “graciously accepted them” and took
them home for dinner!

But all this is anticipating. When Haydn settled at Eszterháza he found
at his disposal a competent orchestra, but one much smaller and less
capable than it soon became. The newcomer, though the aged and
desiccated Gregorius Joseph Werner remained nominally chief
Capellmeister and railed at Haydn as “a mere fop” and a “scribbler of
songs”, lost no time reorganizing his forces, yet very tactfully and
without ruffling any feelings. He infused new blood into the personnel,
by acquiring a number of young and greatly talented players. One of
these was a youthful violinist, Luigi Tomasini, whom Prince Paul Anton
had found in Italy and taken to Eszterháza as his valet, and whom Haydn
instantly secured for his orchestra and treated as a brother. Still
another was a cellist of uncommon gifts, Joseph Weigl. Haydn obtained
the musical results he wanted, but always with the discretion of a born
diplomat. Never had he to fight his “superiors”, after the manner of
such stormy petrels as Bach, Handel, Beethoven. His musicians (he always
referred to them as his “children”) idolized him and, because they
respected him, strove to satisfy his demands, which were by no means
slight. His duties were staggeringly heavy. Dr. Geiringer recounts that,
on one occasion, the exhausted Haydn became so sleepy while writing a
horn concerto that he “mixed up the staves for oboe and violin, and
noted in the score as an excuse ‘written while asleep.’”

                                 * * *

It was not long before the musicians fell into the habit of calling
their conductor “Papa Haydn”, on account of his solicitude for their
well-being and his musical knowledge which they recognized as
remarkable. But nothing could be more misleading than the age-old
convention of using “Papa Haydn” as a nickname for this master as if to
imply that he was an artist of outworn, discredited sympathies and of
unprogressive attitude. The antique “Papa Haydn” idea was neatly
scuttled on one occasion by Anton Rubinstein—of all people! When someone
of his acquaintance alluded contemptuously to “Papa Haydn” the great
pianist retorted: “Let me assure you that long after I have become
‘great-grandfather Rubinstein’ he will still continue to be ‘Papa
Haydn’.” Yet Haydn at the time of which we speak was still some distance
from the master who created the greater symphonies and chamber music,
the finest clavier sonatas and certain other memorable keyboard works,
let alone the six most inspired masses and the two oratorios (“The
Creation” and “The Seasons”), the ripest fruits of his old age. If
physically Haydn developed late, the same is true of his creative
genius. Musically and otherwise it appeared for some time as if his
brother, Michael, would surpass him; and if Joseph had died soon after
entering the Eszterházy service it may be seriously questioned if the
world would have felt it had been deprived of an irreplaceable master.

                                 * * *

In more ways than one the sumptuous palace of Eszterháza was the best
possible home for Haydn’s art. Prince Eszterházy, great as were his
demands on Haydn, did his art a service by allowing him to experiment
and thus “forcing him to become original”. He would hardly have become
“original” in the way he did had he been obliged to earn his bread
wandering about Vienna, for he was differently constituted than, let us
say, such an unmistakably Viennese soul as Schubert. Haydn’s early
masters (let us rather say “models”) were not men of imposing creative
dimension. Johann Sebastian Bach died while Haydn was still a youth, his
work had gone out of fashion and was unobtainable in Vienna for years to
come. But the influence of Philipp Emanuel Bach was vastly stronger at
the time than that of his father and Haydn, as we have seen, felt its
impact. Guido Adler, for one, names as Haydn’s early masters minor
composers like Georg Reutter, Georg Christoph Wagenseil and Georg
Matthias Monn. There is evidence that he knew the music of Ignaz
Holzbauer, Johann Stamitz and the Sammartini brothers. Basically more
important for Haydn’s early style was the changed taste which pervaded
the musical world, supplanting the intricate polyphonic style by
homophony and the decorative pleasings of the so-called _style galant_.

It was some time before he can be said to have earned the title of
“father of the symphony” (or, in the deepest sense, of the sonata or the
string quartet). The early symphonies of Haydn seem much closer to the
concerto grosso of the Baroque period than to the later “Paris” and
“London” symphonies. The musical form which occupied Haydn perhaps most
of all was the string quartet, of which as many as 83 were enumerated in
a catalogue of his works Haydn prepared in 1805. “We do not know the
exact number of Haydn’s string quartets,” declares Karl Geiringer, who
also adds “the composer was in his early twenties when he wrote his
first quartet and he had passed his 70th birthday before he began to
work on his last.”

                                 * * *

In 1766 Gregorius Werner died and Haydn was officially appointed
Capellmeister of the Eszterházy orchestra. He had by now brought the
ensemble to a high state of perfection. Besides the cellist Weigl (who
later joined the Vienna court orchestra) Haydn could boast, in addition
to “brother Luigi” Tomasini, as concertmaster, the fine cellists, Franz
Xaver Marteau and Anton Kraft. Prince Eszterházy, who paid even higher
salaries than the imperial court at Vienna, could have his pick and
choice of any artist he wanted. The schedule at Eszterháza called for
two opera performances a week, two weekly concerts and, in Prince
Nicholas’ private salon, plenty of chamber music. The prince greatly
enjoyed playing the baryton, a now obsolete form of viola da gamba. It
was uncommonly difficult and the Prince enjoyed it all the more for that
reason. Haydn had his work cut out for him supplying his employer with
new music for the instrument. Once he thought he would give Prince
Nicholas pleasure by learning to play the baryton himself and declared
he was ready to play it for his Serene Highness. This time he had
miscalculated—his Highness returned no more than a glacial stare!
Nicholas, moreover, insisted he must have _all_ the most difficult
passages in anything Haydn might write for him. The cellist, Kraft, was
once given a particularly easy part in a baryton duet to perform with
the prince, who cut short any possible argument with the words: “It is
no credit to you to play better than I do; it is your duty.”

The normal schedule of the artists was, of course, far heavier and more
complicated, when distinguished visitors arrived for longer or shorter
sojourns. Under the circumstances, neither Haydn nor anyone else, had a
chance to be bored at Eszterháza. Now and then, however, these birds in
a golden cage longed for a little freedom. Haydn himself once wrote in a
letter: “I never can obtain leave, even to go to Vienna for twenty-four
hours. It is scarcely credible, and yet the refusal is always couched in
such polite terms as to render it utterly impossible for me to urge my
request.” This is the place to speak of the so-called “Farewell
Symphony”, a piece of music with a definite purpose (if not exclusively
an artistic one) in which Haydn got the better of his prince. In 1772
Nicholas ruled that none of the musicians might bring his wife or
children to Eszterháza. In only three cases was an exception made.
Prince Nicholas, having paid his musicians an extra fifty florins to
provide for the families they were not permitted to visit, considered
that he had no further obligations. Finally, the players who had to pass
the greater part of the year without seeing their wives, rebelled. In
Griesinger’s words: “The affectionate husbands appealed to Haydn to help
them. Haydn decided to write a symphony in which one instrument after
the other ceases to play. The work was executed as soon as an occasion
presented itself, and each player was instructed to put out his candle
when his part was ended, seize his music and leave with his instrument
tucked under his arm. The prince instantly understood the meaning of
pantomime and the next day he gave the order to leave Eszterháza.”

All the same, the advantages of Haydn’s life at Eszterháza, even when it
threatened to grow dull, were inestimable. He once told Griesinger: “My
prince was always satisfied with my works. Not only did I have the
encouragement of constant approval, but as conductor of an orchestra I
could make experiments, observe what produced an effect and what
weakened it, and was thus in a position to improve, to alter, make
additions or omissions, and be as bold as I pleased. I was cut off from
the world; there was no one to confuse or torment me....”

                                 * * *

Prince Eszterházy, in 1779, engaged an Italian violinist, Antonio
Polzelli, and his wife, Luigia, a mezzo-soprano. Polzelli was a sickly
man and not particularly competent. Still less was Luigia, who needed
much help from Haydn to fit her for minor musical duties. What moved the
Prince to pick this misfit pair for his establishment is a problem. They
were not a happy couple, scarcely more than were Haydn and his “Infernal
Beast”! Luigia was nineteen, lively, graceful—an adorable type of
Italian beauty. The Prince soon decided that the imported couple
represented a needless expense, though the two were pathetically
underpaid. But this time Haydn was resolute. The Polzellis must stay in
Eszterháza under _any_ conditions! Eszterházy, being a man of the world,
realized that in certain things an irreplaceable orchestral conductor
must be allowed his way, whatever the conventions.

Luigia was attracted to Haydn as were numerous other women whose path he
crossed. He himself often admitted it could not have been for his
beauty. Dr. Geiringer says that we know “practically nothing about
Luigia.” At any rate Haydn never made any secret of his love for her or
she for him—not, at any rate, till much later, when new interests
entered his life. At Eszterháza the affair was an open secret. Doubtless
they would have married. But the invalid Antonio and the venomous Maria
Anna Aloysia settled that. There are no letters extant dealing with
those first years of their love. But in 1791 he wrote Luigia: “I love
you as on the first day, and I am always sad when I cannot do more for
you. But be patient, perhaps the day will arrive when I can show you how
much I love you.” When Antonio Polzelli died, not very long afterwards,
Haydn wrote Luigia: “Perhaps the time will come, for which we have so
often wished when two pairs of eyes will be closed. One is shut already
but what of the other? Well, be it as God wills.” Luigia had two sons,
the first born in 1777, the second six years later, in Eszterháza. Haydn
was devoted to both, and gossip insisted he was the father of the
younger. He taught the two boys music and, irrespective of the question
of paternity, he made no distinction between them. Singularly enough,
“the Infernal Beast” who abominated Luigia, showed herself exceptionally
kind to Pietro Polzelli when he visited her in 1792.

                                 * * *

About 1781 Haydn established a friendship which was to grow increasingly
profound and more influential. He made the acquaintance of Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart, who had come from Salzburg to settle at last in Vienna.
The sympathy was mutual, though the two masters were in many ways the
absolute reverse of each other. Mozart was from his childhood a genuine
virtuoso, such as Haydn had never pretended to be. Neither had Haydn
matured artistically with anything like the speed of the sensitive and
mercurial genius from Salzburg, nor possessed anything like the
universality of the latter’s gifts. Be these things as they may, the
pair seemed to have come into the world to complement one another. Their
friendship is one of the most beautiful and productive the history of
music affords. “Haydn was fascinated by Mozart’s quicksilver
personality, while Mozart enjoyed the sense of security that Haydn’s
steadfastness and warmth of feeling gave him.” And it was as if the two
kindled brighter artistic sparks in their respective souls. The two
played chamber music together whenever Haydn made a trip to Vienna. When
Leopold Mozart visited his son, in 1785, Wolfgang, Haydn and several
friends performed some of Mozart’s new quartets for Father Mozart. It
was on this occasion that Haydn made to Leopold the oft-quoted remark:
“I tell you before God and as an honest man that your son is the
greatest composer known to me either in person or by reputation. He has
taste and, what is more, the most profound knowledge of composition.”
Wolfgang was delighted, but declared at the same time that it was only
from Haydn that he had learned how to write string quartets. And the
half-dozen he issued in 1785 and dedicated with moving phrases to his
“beloved friend Haydn” are doubtless among the finest he composed. On
the other hand, Mozart never permitted a derogatory word to be said in
his presence about Haydn. And when the Bohemian composer and pianist,
Leopold Kozeluch, once said to Mozart on hearing a boldly dissonant
passage in a Haydn quartet: “I would never have written that,” Mozart
instantly retorted: “Nor would I! And do you know why? Because neither
you nor I would have had so excellent an idea.... Sir, even if they
melted us both together, there would still not be stuff enough to make a
Haydn.” When some years later Haydn was asked his opinion about a
debated passage in “Don Giovanni” he answered with finality: “I cannot
settle this dispute, but this I know: Mozart is the greatest composer
that the world now possesses!” And hearing an argument about the harmony
in the beginning of Mozart’s C major Quartet Haydn put a stop to the
controversy then and there by saying: “If Mozart wrote it so he must
have had good reason for it.” And when someone in Prague invited Haydn
to write an opera for that city he declined on the ground—among other
things—that he “would be taking a big risk, for scarcely any man could
stand comparison with the great Mozart. Oh, if I could only explain to
every musical friend ... the inimitable art of Mozart, its depth, the
greatness of its emotion, and its unique musical conception, as I myself
feel and understand it, nations would then vie with each other to
possess so great a jewel.... Prague ought to strive not merely to retain
this precious man, but also to remunerate him; for without this support
the history of any great genius is sad indeed. It enrages me to think
that the unparalleled Mozart has not yet been engaged by some imperial
or royal court. Do forgive this outburst but I love that man too much.”

                                 * * *

It should not be imagined that the various operas of Haydn have anything
like the vitality, the dramatic life or the quality of “theatre” we find
in the stage works of Mozart. The greater part were composed for the
play-house at Eszterháza and in certain cases for marionettes. Sometimes
they were slender comedies, on the “Singspiel” order, sometimes masques,
intermezzi, scenic cantatas. Possibly the two operas which in modern
times have experienced most frequent revival are the comedy, “Lo
Speziale” (“The Apothecary”) and “Il Mondo della Luna” (“The World of
the Moon”).

His life at Eszterháza had the advantage of preserving Haydn from the
intrigues and jealousies that ran riot in Vienna and from which even a
Mozart had to suffer so bitterly. Yet without traveling far from
Eisenstadt Haydn was now rapidly becoming widely famous. One of the
first countries where he gained glory in distinguished circles was
Spain. In 1779 his music was already becoming a subject of high-flown
poetic praise. In 1781 King Charles III sent the composer a gold
snuffbox. The secretary of the Spanish Legation went to Eszterháza in
person to convey his sovereign’s esteem to Haydn, whose princely
employer must have swelled with pride at such a lofty distinction so
ceremoniously conferred upon his “servant”. The composer, Luigi
Boccherini, a protégé of the Spanish king’s brother, strove so
successfully to imitate Haydn’s style that someone called him “Haydn’s
wife”. Perhaps the most important Spanish honor of all came from a canon
of Cadiz for a work called “The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the
Cross”. Let us cite Haydn’s own words which preface the score published
by Breitkopf und Härtel in 1801:

“About 1786 I was requested to compose instrumental music in ‘The Seven
Last Words.’ It was customary at the Cathedral of Cadiz to produce an
oratorio every year during Lent, the effect of the performance being not
a little enhanced by the following circumstances. The walls, windows,
and pillars of the church were hung with black cloth, and only one large
lamp hanging from the center of the roof broke the solemn obscurity. At
midday the doors were closed and the ceremony began. After a short
service the bishop ascended the pulpit, pronounced the first of the
seven words and delivered a discourse thereon. This ended, he left the
pulpit and prostrated himself before the altar. The pause was filled by
music. The bishop then in like manner pronounced the second word, then
the third, and so on, the orchestra following on the conclusion of each
discourse. My composition was subject to these conditions, and it was no
easy matter to compose seven adagios to last ten minutes each, and
succeed one another without fatiguing the listeners; indeed, I found it
quite impossible to confine myself within the appointed limits.”

Haydn looked upon the composition as one of his most important and, as a
matter of fact, it widely exercised a profound impression. It was even
performed in the United States in 1793. When it came to paying Haydn for
his work the Spanish ecclesiast presented the composer with a large sum
of money concealed in an enormous chocolate cake! The “Seven Last Words”
were, in the course of years, done by a string quartet, by an orchestra,
as an oratorio. Today the work is hard to listen to with patience,
impressive as it once seemed. A series of adagios, one much like the
other, it has precisely the effect that the composer at first feared:
the various movements as they succeed one another end by sorely
“fatiguing the hearers”.

France and England, in their turn, presently developed unmistakable
signs of Haydn worship, which progressed increasingly. In Italy the
composer steadily won favor. The Philharmonic Society of Modena made him
a member as early as 1780. Ferdinand IV, of Naples, a few years later
ordered concertos for an instrument called the lira organizzata. The
king wanted Haydn to visit Italy; the composer would have loved to do
so, but could not leave Eszterháza. Frederick William II, of Prussia,
who played the cello, sent Haydn a superb and costly diamond ring. We
are told that he put on the ring whenever he began an important work
because “when he forgot to do so no ideas occurred to him”. He also
received a costly ring from his pupil, the Russian Grand Duchess Maria
Feodorovna, whom he taught in 1782 in Vienna and for whom he composed
numerous songs more than twenty years later. Then, in 1781, Haydn
informed the Viennese publisher, Artaria, that “Monsieur Le Gros,
director of the Concerts Spirituels in Paris, wrote me a great many nice
things about my ‘Stabat Mater’ which had been given there four times
with great applause.... They made me an offer to engrave all my future
works on very advantageous terms.” In 1784 a Paris society, the Concerts
de la Loge Olympique (patronized by French royalty, and where audiences
were required to pass a kind of examination before they were admitted to
its functions) commissioned Haydn to write six symphonies for them, to
which solicitation we owe the composer’s great series of “Paris”
Symphonies. Not only did French publishers now make profitable proposals
to Haydn; in Luigi Cherubini, meanwhile, he had one of his most
impassioned advocates in Paris.

Haydn could probably have gone to England and become associated with the
musical life of that country much sooner than he did. When in 1783 the
Professional Concerts were founded in London an attempt was made to
secure him to take over their direction. The composer, not feeling that
Prince Eszterházy would have given his consent, had to refuse and the
English public contented itself with listening to a Haydn symphony as
the opening offering of the series. By that time Haydn’s music was so
well known and stood so high in British favor that his works had gained
a preponderant place in the musical life of the country. The Prince of
Wales, an excellent cellist, caused Haydn’s quartets to be performed
continually at the palace musicales. And invitations to come to England
poured upon Haydn from every corner of the Island Kingdom. For all that,
he remained as simple and unspoiled as ever. He never forgot his humble
origin. To Griesinger he once said: “I have had intercourse with
emperors, kings and many a great personage, and have been told by them
quite a few flattering things. For all that, I do not care to be on
intimate terms with such persons and prefer to keep to people of my own

In Vienna the number of Haydn’s intimates steadily increased. As the
years of his sojourn at Eszterháza passed pleasantly, but monotonously,
the composer strove increasingly to widen his Viennese circle of
friends. He was able to accomplish this without unusual effort. The
publisher, Artaria, who had close business connections with Haydn, was
only one of the master’s cronies. Then, of course, there were Mozart and
his friends Michael Kelly, Stephen and Nancy Storace, the merchant
Michael Puchberg (who immortalized himself by lending Mozart money). And
Haydn, following the suggestion of Mozart and Puchberg, became a
Freemason and joined the lodge Zur wahren Eintracht. But in some ways
the closest friends of Haydn’s in Vienna were Peter L. von Genzinger and
his wife, Marianne. Von Genzinger had long been Prince Eszterházy’s
doctor. Both he and his wife were to the highest degree cultured and
musical—Frau von Genzinger, for that matter, was an uncommonly gifted
pianist and singer. Haydn was so welcome a guest in that hospitable
dwelling that, among other things, his hostess never tired of preparing
for him his favorite dishes. The only drop of bitterness the lovely
Genzinger home brought him was the poignant contrast it sometimes
furnished to the growing monotony of Eszterháza, to which place he
returned with a pang. “Well here I sit in my wilderness, like some poor
orphan, almost without human society, melancholy, dwelling on the memory
of past glorious days”, he wrote to Marianne von Genzinger, in 1790,
after he had mournfully returned to Eszterháza. His letters to Marianne
have a freedom and a spontaneity not to be found in Haydn’s usually
stilted correspondence. As time passed it became fairly evident that
Haydn deeply, if hopelessly, loved her. To be sure, he wrote that “she
need be under no uneasiness ... for my friendship and esteem for you
(warm as they are) can never become reprehensible since I have always in
my mind my respect for your elevated virtues, which not only I, but all
who know you must reverence.... Oh, that I could be with you, dear lady,
even for a quarter of an hour, to pour forth all my sorrows, and to
receive comfort from you! Well, as God pleases! This time will also pass
away and the day return when I shall again have the inexpressible
pleasure of being seated beside you at the pianoforte, hearing Mozart’s
masterpieces, and kissing your hands from gratitude for so much

Between the lines it is possible to read that for all his honors and
distinctions Haydn was not growing happier at Eszterháza as the years
elapsed. By 1790 we find him writing: “I am doomed to stay at home. It
is indeed sad always to be a slave.” He was growing restive amid all
this Eszterházy luxury. He had his orchestra, his palatial little
theatre, the unending festivities at Eszterháza; he had Luigia Polzelli
and he had little occasion to bother about the “Infernal Beast”, who,
though she still walked the earth, scarcely existed for him. But it
irked him that he could not accept those invitations to visit foreign
countries which were piling in upon him. The truth, as Dr. Geiringer
keenly observes, was that “Haydn had outgrown Eszterháza.... Even his
attachment to his beloved prince had somewhat diminished. Haydn, now a
man of nearly 60, like a person of half his age, craved for a change,
new tasks, new experiences. With the sure instinct of genius he felt
that the immense creative forces still slumbering in him could be
released only by a cleancut break with the way of life that for nearly
30 years had been dear to him.”

                                 * * *

At the psychological moment destiny came to Haydn’s aid somewhat as,
decades later, it invariably came to Wagner’s. In the fall of 1790,
Prince Nicholas the Magnificent died suddenly. His successor, Prince
Anton Eszterházy, who was unmusical and otherwise unlike his father,
instantly dismissed the orchestra, retaining only Haydn, Tomasini and a
few others to take care of the church music. He did not, indeed,
discharge Haydn and even paid him well to keep him nominally in his
employ. But he gave the master leave to travel wherever he wanted.
Instantly Haydn dashed to Vienna, where fate took charge of his
interests once more. A relative of the Eszterházys wanted him for
another princely post at Pressburg; the king of Naples repeated his
earlier invitation to Italy. Then, while the composer deliberated, a
stranger burst into his room with the words: “My name is Salomon. I have
come from London to fetch you; we shall conclude our accord tomorrow.”
Haydn was bowled over and almost before he realized the truth, Johann
Peter Salomon, of Bonn, superintended everything. Haydn was to be paid
300 pounds for an opera, 300 more for six new symphonies, 200 for the
copyrights, 200 for twenty smaller pieces, 200 more for a benefit
concert in London. He had, then and there, to consider whether it was to
be Pressburg, Italy or England. One reason he decided against Italy was
because he appreciated that he was not a born opera composer, like
Mozart. But though Haydn spoke Italian and knew not a word of English
(besides which the Channel crossing worried him), he decided—most
fortunately as it proved—on England. For one thing, he realized that
England was at that time a leader in the orchestral field; in the second
place Haydn was surfeited with nobility and the courts of princes. And
he longed for the personal freedom which England assured him. So London
it should be! His friends—among them Mozart—were frightened. “Oh, Papa,
you have had no education for the wide world, and you speak so few
languages,” protested Wolfgang. “But my language is understood all over
the world,” gently replied Haydn. Just the same, he found parting from
Mozart harder than from any of his other friends. And when they took
leave of one another the younger man exclaimed prophetically: “I am
afraid, Papa, this will be our last farewell.” Mozart’s death was one of
the sorest blows Haydn ever suffered, and the pain of it actually
sharpened with the passing of time.

Ten days before Christmas, 1790, Haydn set out on his journey with
Salomon. They took ship at Calais, January 1, 1791, at 7:30 A.M. (“after
attending early Mass”). As he wrote Marianne von Genzinger, he was “very
well, although somewhat thinner, owing to fatigue, irregular sleep, and
eating and drinking so many things”. In spite of a choppy sea he stood
the crossing admirably, probably because “I remained on deck during the
whole passage, in order to gaze my fill at that huge monster, the
ocean.” Only once or twice was he “seized with slight alarm and a little
indisposition likewise”. Yet he arrived at Dover “without being actually
sick”, even if most of the passengers did “look like ghosts.” Doubtless
he recalled with amusement his boyish attempts to portray a storm at sea
on the harpsichord in the days of Kurz-Bernardon!

Haydn’s first impressions of London were overwhelming. He was as struck
and delighted with the size and grandeur of the British metropolis, its
crowds, its teeming traffic and the “strangeness” of English life as was
even the worldlier Mendelssohn, several decades later. Nevertheless, he
was not a little frightened and found the street noise “unbearable”. He
had not a little trouble with the language and was much confused about
the right thing to do when people drank his health. He wrote to Frau von
Genzinger that he was trying to learn English by taking morning walks
alone in the woods “with his English grammar.” Salomon did not spare him
any of the customary social engagements and amenities. Before he had
been in London three weeks he was invited to a court ball and welcomed
by the Prince of Wales, who, so Haydn decided, was “the handsomest man
on God’s earth”. The Prince (the future George IV) “wore diamonds worth
80,000 pounds.” Haydn eventually managed to secure a recipe for the
Prince’s brand of punch; it called for “one bottle of champagne, one of
burgundy, one of rum, ten lemons, two oranges and a pound and a half of

On March 11, 1791, occurred Haydn’s first concert in the Hanover Square
Rooms. The function in every respect exceeded the composer’s fondest
hopes. Its outstanding feature was the D major Symphony (No. 93). The
orchestra surpassed both numerically and otherwise the one Haydn had
commanded at Eszterháza. The master conducted from a harpsichord, as had
always been his custom. The concertmaster was the worthy Salomon, who
played on a superb Stradivarius. Dr. Burney spoke of “a degree of
enthusiasm such as almost amounted to frenzy.” The Adagio of the
symphony had to be repeated. The _Morning Chronicle_ wrote: “We cannot
suppress our very anxious hope that the first musical genius of the age
may be induced by our liberal welcome to take up his residence in
England.” It was a wish which speedily spread. Even the King pressed the
composer to make his home there and when, with the best grace in the
world Haydn assured him his Continental obligations would not permit him
to do so, the monarch was more or less offended. One reason the master
gave for his refusal was that “he could not leave his wife”—though the
“Infernal Beast” was probably farthest from his thoughts! What really
stood in the way of a permanent English residence was the fear of the
tremendous drain on his creative powers his popularity might entail. He
was, indeed, on the threshold of his greatest achievements and he was
strong and healthy. All the same he was not growing younger. And he knew
what the strain of being incessantly lionized would do in the long run.

For the time being, however, British adulation only had the effect of
making Haydn more splendidly productive than ever. The twelve Salomon
symphonies (six composed for Haydn’s first visit to London, the
remaining set written for his second a few years later) are indisputably
Haydn’s greatest symphonic creations. Let us mention a few of them:
There is the so-called “Military” Symphony (Haydn’s symphonies are more
easily distinguished by their sometimes fanciful titles, than by keys or
opus numbers); the “Clock”, with its Andante, marked by a persistent
tick-tock rhythm; the symphony “With the Kettledrum Roll”; the
“Surprise”, with its folk-like melody and its title derived from a
wholly unexpected fortissimo (which Haydn believed would “wake up the
old ladies”) following a placid folk-like phase—yet actually more of a
“surprise” from the astonishing harmonies heard just before the close of
the variation movement.

The London Symphonies, together with “The Creation” and “The Seasons” as
well as certain of the great string quartets, parts of which so
astoundingly foreshadow the idiom of the Romantic period, are, in
reality, the summits of Haydn’s inspiration. It is a question if his
genius would have unfolded itself so magnificently without the stimulus
which came to the master from his two visits to England. In July, 1791,
he was invited to the Oxford Commemoration to receive from the
University the honorary degree of Doctor of Music. The occasion proved
to be a love feast. Three concerts were given in Haydn’s honor, at one
of which he conducted his G major Symphony (No. 92), written several
years earlier, but henceforth called the “Oxford” Symphony. As his
“exercise” he wrote for the University a three part crab canon, “Thy
Voice, O Harmony is Divine”. For three days he went about in “cherry and
cream-colored silk”. “I wish my friends in Vienna could have seen me”,
he wrote, remarking in his diary “I had to pay one and a half guineas
for the bell peals at Oxford when I received the Doctor’s degree, and
half a guinea for hiring the gown. The journey cost six guineas.” By no
means a cheap honor! At the same time it is worth-while mentioning a
statement of his to Dies, his biographer: “I owe much, I might say
everything in England to the Doctor’s degree; for thanks to it I met the
first men and was admitted to the most important houses.”

One of Haydn’s greatest and most fruitful experiences in London was his
attendance in 1791 at a huge Handel Commemoration in Westminster Abbey.
It was a prodigious affair with more than a thousand participants.
Handel’s masterpieces may not have been intimately familiar to Haydn,
though the Baron Van Swieten in Vienna made a cult both of Handel and
Johann Sebastian Bach. In Westminster Abbey, however, with such a
gigantic array of performers and a public brought up in the reverence of
Handel’s masterpieces the effect of a creation like “Messiah” was no
less than shattering on Haydn. When he heard the “Hallelujah” chorus he
burst into tears with the exclamation “Handel is the master of us all!”
And it seems to have been the impact of Handel which moved him to
contemplate an oratorio of his own. The outcome of this Handelian
experience and of the great British tradition of massive choruses
became, in due time, “The Creation” and “The Seasons.”

Haydn was immensely busy in England but he was thoroughly enjoying
himself. He was entertained for five entire weeks at the home of a rich
banker who lived in the country and who asked Haydn to give music
lessons to his daughters, yet tactfully left the composer as much alone
as he wished to be. So he was able to rest a little from the noise of
London. Another time he went by boat from Westminster Bridge to Richmond
and had dinner on a lovely island in the Thames; or he went to a dance
at the home of the Lord Mayor of London, leaving when he found the room
too hot and the music too bad; then he remained for three days at a
castle where the Duke of York and his bride were spending their
honeymoon. “Oh, my dear good lady”, he exclaimed in a letter to Marianne
von Genzinger, “how sweet is some degree of liberty! I had a kind
prince, but was obliged at times to be dependent on base souls. I often
sighed for release and now I have it in some measure. I am quite
sensible of this benefit, though my mind is burdened with more work. The
consciousness of being no longer a servant sweetens all my toil.”

At a concert given in York House, where Haydn played, Salomon led an
orchestra and the King and Queen were present, the composer was formally
presented by the Prince of Wales to George III. The monarch talked for
some time to the former “servant” of the Eszterházys and said, among
other things, “Dr. Haydn, you have written a good deal.” Whereupon Haydn
answered: “Yes, Sire, a great deal more than is good.” The King had the
last word, however, and replied: “Oh, no; the world contradicts you.”
There can be no question, however, that on both his visits to England
Haydn was called upon to subject his creative powers to a terrific
strain. The strangest part of it was that the artist, whose years were
now accumulating, seemed actually to be making up for the slow
development of his genius in his young manhood. Not only were the works
he produced greater and greater, but his assimilation of great and new
musical influences was progressing steadily.

Apart from his other English activities there was no end of sight-seeing
to be done, complicated with a considerable amount of teaching. At the
end of the music season the “worn out” master, went to Vauxhall Gardens,
was delighted with the place where, among other things the music was
“fairly good” and where “coffee and milk cost nothing”. However, he did
have a few twinges of the “English rheumatism” and almost submitted to
an operation for his nose polypus—though when they tied him to a chair
and prepared to operate he “kicked and screamed so vigorously”, that the
surgeon and his assistants had to give it up.

Not even a Haydn escaped intrigues and baseless slander. A rival concert
organization, unable to win him away from Salomon launched rumors that
the composer was showing signs of exhaustion and then sought to play off
against Haydn the aging master’s devoted pupil, Ignaz Pleyel. Another
thing he seems not to have managed avoiding was a love affair. “There
were certainly quite a few innocent friendships with beautiful women”,
relates Dr. Geiringer, “but they did not prevent the inflammable master
from enjoying a more significant romance as well”. Strangely enough, we
know about it only from the letters of the lady in question, which Haydn
carefully copied because, presumably, she wanted her correspondence
back! So far as we have this interchange it is quite one-sided and none
of Haydn’s letters to her remain. The lady in the case was a widow, a
Mrs. Schroeter. Dr. Burney referred to her as “a young lady of
considerable fortune”. Later, Haydn spoke of her to Dies, as “an English
widow in London who loved me. Though 60 years old, she was still lovely
and amiable, and in all likelihood I should have married her if I had
been single.” Like Marianne von Genzinger, Mrs. Schroeter was musical
and did copyist work for the composer. Actually, she seems to have been
much younger than Haydn’s estimate. Here are a few extracts from the
letters he received from her in London: “... Pray inform me how you do,
and let me know my Dear Love: When will you dine with me? I shall be
truly happy to see you to dinner, either tomorrow or Tuesday.... I am
truly anxious and impatient to see you and I wish to have as much of
your company as possible; indeed my dear Haydn I feel for you the
fondest and tenderest affection the human heart is capable of, and I
ever am with the firmest attachment my Dear Love, most Sincerely,
Faithfully and most affectionately Yours...”. Another time, the devoted
Mrs. Schroeter is concerned about his health: “I am told you was (sic!)
at your Study’s yesterday; indeed, my D.L., I am afraid it will hurt
you.... I almost tremble for your health. Let me prevail on you my much
loved Haydn not to keep to your study’s so long at one time. My dear
love if you could know how precious your welfare is to me, I flatter
myself you wou’d endeavor to preserve it, for my sake as well as your
own.” Another time: “... I hope to hear you are quite well, shall be
happy to see you at dinner and if you can come at three o’clock it would
give me great pleasure, as I should be particularly glad to see you my
Dear before the rest of our friends come.”

All the same, Haydn amid his numberless duties, found time to write to
Luigia Polzelli, who was now in Italy. She was not a little jealous and
the composer found it wise to placate her with extravagantly ardent
letters and money. He would have been happy to see her son, Pietro, in
London but he was much less anxious to have Luigia. Meantime, the
“Infernal Beast” again stirred up trouble by sending notes to her
detested rival hinting at Haydn’s infidelities!

Let us herewith end the story of Luigia. Haydn had once promised to
marry her when he should be free. When, at long last Maria Anna
Apollonia died in 1800, the Polzelli chose to remind him of his promise.
But he solved the difficulty by giving her black on white, his solemn
word to marry “no one else” and he also promised her a substantial
pension for the rest of her life. Having pocketed that “promise” Luigia
promptly married an Italian singer! Her son, Pietro, died in 1796. Haydn
sincerely mourned him but turned his attention to another pupil of his,
Sigismund Neukomm.

The wanderer came back to Vienna in midsummer, 1792. After the
exhilaration of the first English trip the return to Vienna, for all his
honors and distinctions, was chilling. No one seemed to care greatly.
Moreover, there was one irreplaceable loss; Mozart was no more; and
early in 1793 another blow struck Haydn—Marianne von Genzinger died at
38. Here was a calamity in its way rivaling the tragedy of Mozart.
Haydn’s resilient nature recovered even from the death of Marianne. But
a certain sweetness departed with her and never returned. Singularly
enough, there entered into his musical life about this time a force one
might assume would have fortified him to bear the burden of his poignant
losses. Beethoven arrived in Vienna from Bonn bearing the following
message from Count Waldstein: “Dear Beethoven, you are traveling to
Vienna in fulfillment of your long-cherished wish. The tutelary genius
of Mozart is still weeping and bewailing the death of her favorite. With
the inexhaustible Haydn she has found refuge, but no occupation, and now
she is waiting to leave him and associate herself with someone else.
Labor assiduously and receive Mozart’s spirit from the hands of Haydn.”

                                 * * *

Haydn was the wrong teacher for Beethoven and Beethoven the wrong pupil
for Haydn. The young man’s relations with the old master were kind and
friendly (Beethoven, according to his diaries, treated Haydn to
“chocolate twenty-two times” and to “coffee six times”). But there was a
spiritual gulf between them of which they both became aware. Haydn,
indeed, foreshadowed musical romanticism, yet he did not, like his new
pupil, arrogantly identify himself with it. Beethoven had none of that
soul of a servitor which Haydn had acquired through his long career; so
it was not without reason that the teacher used to allude to the
hot-headed pupil as “the Grand Mogul”. Moreover, Beethoven wanted to be
instructed in counterpoint the hard way; and he was greatly irritated
when Haydn did not carefully correct his technical exercises. Therefore,
though the relationship remained outwardly amicable and the lessons went
on, Beethoven changed teachers. He placed himself in the hands of the
composer, Johann Schenk, and of the contrapuntist, Johann
Albrechtsberger. As Schenk had told Beethoven in looking over some of
his technical work, Haydn was now too busy composing great masterworks
to be occupied by the needs of a particularly obstreperous student.

In 1794 Haydn started out a second time for London, but this time not in
Salomon’s company. Yet as he did not wish to make the journey unattended
he decided on one of his young friends for an escort—Polzelli, Beethoven
or some other. His usual luck attended him when he picked Johann
Elssler, whose father had copied music at Eszterháza. Johann was Haydn’s
godson and in the fullness of time he became the father of the famous
dancer, Fanny Elssler. He idolized Haydn, served him hand and foot, was
secretary, copyist and the first to assist Haydn in cataloguing his
works. On this English visit Haydn traveled rather more extensively than
the first time. He went to the Isle of Wight, to Southampton, to Waverly
Abbey, to Winchester. He went to Hampton Court, which reminded him of
Eszterháza. He heard “miserable trash” at the Haymarket Theatre and even
worse at Sadler’s Wells. In Bath he met a Miss Brown, “an amiable
discreet person”, who had the additional advantage of “a beautiful
mother”; he saw the grave of “Turk, a faithful dog and not a man”; and
he composed music to a poem by the conductor of the Bath Harmonic
Society, “What Art Expresses”.

In August, 1795, Haydn was back in Vienna, and although the heart-breaks
of the previous return were spared him he found plenty of new
organizational labor awaiting him at Eszterháza, where a new prince,
Nicholas II, a grandson of “The Magnificent” now held sway. His artistic
tastes, though pronounced, did not run primarily in the directions of
music. He gave Cherubini a gorgeous and costly ring, he liked the music
of Reutter and Michael Haydn more than that of the great Eszterházy
Capellmeister, and then insulted Beethoven with a stupid remark about
the latter’s C major Mass. He even criticised Haydn’s management of some
detail at an orchestral rehearsal, whereupon the now thoroughly
irascible master turned on his patron with a wrathy: “Your Highness, it
is my job to decide this!” He felt now that a Doctor of Music at Oxford
should be addressed more respectfully than simply as “Haydn”.

                                 * * *

In London the composer once said: “I want to write a work which will
give permanent fame to my name in the world.” After his numberless
symphonies, his masses, his clavier works, his vast store of chamber
music, his concertos, his operatic miscellany, his songs and arias—after
all these what could remain? England had given him one unrivaled
experience from which he could nourish his genius—the mighty Handel
Commemoration, in Westminster Abbey. Haydn had experimented in countless
forms, but one. That was the oratorio and in this he could undertake new

Where should he find a subject? Some say that a musical friend of
Haydn’s answered the master by opening a Bible standing handy and
exclaiming: “There! Take that and begin at the beginning!” Others
maintain that Salomon gave him a libretto which one Lidley had pieced
together from Milton’s “Paradise Lost” for Handel. Dr. Geiringer
believes that both accounts may be true. At all events, Haydn returned
to Vienna with the text. It was, however, in English, which Haydn
understood imperfectly. It was necessary, consequently, to find an
accomplished translator. As usual, good fortune attended him. Gottfried
van Swieten, a literatteur, prefect of the Vienna Royal Library, friend
of Mozart, worshipper of Handel and Bach, who thought highly of Haydn,
was wealthy even if despotic, yet still after a fashion musical—this man
was able to furnish Haydn what he required. Nay, more, “he got together
a group of twelve music-loving noblemen and each guaranteed a
contribution to defray the expenses of performance and pay an honorarium
to the composer.” And Haydn set jubilantly and, withal, reverently to
work. He “spent much time over it, because he intended it to last a long

The labor gave him extraordinary happiness. It answered his inmost
wants. Here he could give the freest possible rein to all that inborn
optimism of his nature. Always profoundly religious, as free from doubt
and skepticism as a child, his reverence was as sincere as it was sunny.
Here he walked, literally, “hand in hand with his God”. There came to
the surface, moreover, all those springs of folk-song influence which
were either remembered or subconsciously wrought into the fabric of his
being. And he was now working on a newer and larger scale than hitherto.
“Never was I so devout as when composing ‘The Creation’” he afterwards
said. “I knelt down every day and prayed to God to strengthen me in my
work.” If his inspiration ever threatened to grow sluggish “I rose from
the pianoforte and began to say my rosary”. This cure, he insisted,
never failed.

The curious aspect of “The Creation” is that, though composed to a
German translation of the English text, it is one of those rare
masterpieces which actually sound better in a translation than in the
original. The answer to this springs probably from the circumstance that
“The Creation” is, in point of fact, an Anglo-Saxon heritage. An
examination of numerous details of its setting and declamation make it
clear that, almost subconsciously, Haydn has set and accompanied the
English words in more subtly revealing fashion than the German.
Similarly, Haydn achieved in the whole work that effect at which he was
aiming. Writing to her daughter, the Princess Eleanore Liechtenstein
said of the oratorio, “One has to shed tears about the greatness, the
majesty, the goodness of God. The soul is uplifted. One cannot but love
and admire.”

The first performance of “The Creation” was given at the palace of
Prince Schwarzenberg in Vienna on April 29, 1798. Only invited guests
attended this and the second performance, though the mobs outside were
so great that extra detachments of police had to be summoned. Haydn
conducted, not from a keyboard, but in the modern way, with a baton. The
rendering was superb, the audience enraptured. Haydn himself said later:
“One moment I was as cold as ice, the next I seemed on fire. More than
once I was afraid I should have a stroke.” “The Creation” promptly
spread over the world. In England it “was to prove so unfailing an
attraction that proceeds from it, mostly given to charitable
institutions, by far surpassed even the receipts from the London benefit
concerts that once had seemed so extraordinary to Haydn”. In Paris
Bonaparte was on his way to hear a performance of it when a bomb
exploded in the street through which he was passing, narrowly missing
his carriage. In America it took root in short order.

The score deserves, in reality, a much more detailed scrutiny than can
be given here. The introduction, the “Representation of Chaos”, does not
receive the attention it actually merits. There is a warmth of color to
the writing, particularly to the woodwind, which is something new in
Haydn. And the closing bars of the amazing page are the more startling
because they provide a foretaste of one of the most striking passages in
Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde”. It may be mentioned, in passing, that
this is by no means the only time when Haydn affords an amazing
Wagnerian presage.

The great and even more celebrated moment in the opening choral number
of the oratorio is the passage “Let there be Light and there was Light”.
From a thin, gray C minor we are suddenly overwhelmed with a sudden and
mighty C major chord—an unmistakable sunburst in tone. In all music this
tremendous moment has not its like unless it be a similar episode—also a
sunrise and by curiously related means—at the opening of Richard
Strauss’s “Thus Spake Zarathustra”. From the very first this moment in
“The Creation” overpowered the listeners and after a century and a half
it has lost not a vestige of its glory. At his last appearance in a
concert hall, Haydn, only a few weeks from his end, was taken to a
performance of his work. At this episode the old master pointed upwards
with the words “Not from me—from there, above, comes everything!”

The strain of unending toil was beginning to tell on Haydn, though the
amazing aspect of it is that these latest works of his do not betray the
slightest diminution of freshness or inventive powers. Yet on June 12,
1799, he wrote to Breitkopf und Härtel a letter which deserves
attention: “My business unhappily expands with my advancing years, and
it almost seems as if, with the decrease of my mental powers, my
inclination and impulse to work increase. Oh God! how much yet remains
to be done in this splendid art, even by a man like myself! The world,
indeed, daily pays me many compliments, even on the fervor of my latest
works; but no one can believe the strain and effort it costs me to
produce them, inasmuch as time after time my feeble memory and the
unstrung state of my nerves so completely crush me to earth, that I fall
into the most melancholy condition. For days afterwards I am incapable
of formulating one single idea, till at length my heart is revived by
providence, and I seat myself at the piano and begin once more to hammer
away at it. Then all goes well again, God be praised. I only wish and
hope that the critics may not handle my ‘Creation’ with too great
severity and be too hard on it. They may possibly find the musical
orthography faulty in various passages, and perhaps other things also,
which for so many years I have been accustomed to consider as minor
points, but the genuine connoisseur will see the real cause as readily
as I do, and willingly ignore such stumbling blocks. This, however, is
entirely _entre nous_; or I might be accused of conceit and arrogance,
from which, however, my Heavenly Father has preserved me all my life

Haydn had still a prodigious amount of work before him. Chief of all was
another full length oratorio, “The Seasons”, based on James Thomson’s
didactic poem. Here again the Baron Van Swieten edited and translated,
though he made use of several German poems in addition to Thomson’s (of
which he altered the “unhappy” ending). The composer worked for three
years on “The Seasons”, not completing it till 1801. It seems to have
tested his powers sorely. It was no less optimistic a document than “The
Creation”, but by and large an outspoken Nature piece (conceived in
Rousseau’s “Back to Nature” philosophy), yet with only transient
religious undertones and without the genuinely Biblical quality of “The
Creation”. Still, the truly amazing part of “The Seasons” is its
incessant vitality, the charm of its pictorial aspect and the unending
freshness of its inspiration. All the same, the magnificent work made
unmistakable inroads on Haydn’s vitality. He paid for its success with
his health and was in the habit of saying, from now on, “‘The Seasons’
has given me the death blow!” Actually, he had suffered a physical
breakdown of a sort shortly after one of the productions of “The
Creation”. He had to take to his bed and, intermittently, the flow of
his inspiration threatened to halt. But invariably he would recover,
both physically and mentally. He revised his earlier “Seven Last Words”
as an oratorio; he arranged 250 Scotch folksongs for the Edinburgh
publisher, George Thomson; the number of his string quartets increased.
Performances of “The Creation” multiplied everywhere. Honors poured in
upon him from all quarters. He was warmly invited to come to Paris and
his old pupil, Pleyel, was dispatched to fetch him. Fortunately, Haydn
spared himself the exertions of such a trip. Still, France struck a
medal in his honor, which gave the master no end of pleasure; and he
received the warmest expressions of affection from the inhabitants of
the little Baltic island of Rügen, where a performance of “The Creation”
was given. He even strove to be his own publisher and sought
subscriptions for the score of the oratorio. His friends rallied
magnificently to his aid—the English royal family, the Empress of
Austria, the innumerable friends from his native country and from
Britain (England as much as Austria now claimed him as one of her very
own!). Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton visited Eszterháza and it is said
that for two days the Lady “would not budge from Haydn’s side”, while
Nelson gave him a gold watch in exchange for the master’s pen!

The great composition of this later period of Haydn’s life is beyond
dispute his patriotic anthem, “Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser”—the
Austrian hymn, as, through thick and thin, it has remained. That, too,
was indirectly a product of his English experiences! He had always been
stirred in London by “God Save the King” and it became his ambition to
provide something similar for his own nation. The great melody that
resulted bears a distinct resemblance to a Croatian folksong of the
Eisenstadt region, “Zalostna zarucnica”, which certain musicologists
maintain served as the inspiration for Haydn’s melody, though the
derivation has not been definitely established. But others than
Austrians have made the song their own. The Germans, for instance,
consorted it to a poem by Hoffmann von Fallersleben and thereby it
became “Deutschland über alles”; the English-speaking nations put it to
churchly uses and made of it the hymn “Glorious Things of Thee are

While he was still engaged in exacting creative work he set a schedule
for himself which he appears to have followed rigorously. A daily plan
of activities (written by Elssler, Dr. Geiringer surmises) furnishes a
picture of “Herr von Haydn’s” routine. He was living in a house he had
bought in the “Gumpendorfer” district of Vienna. We read that “in the
summertime he rose at 6.30 A.M. First he shaved, which he did for
himself up to his 73rd year, and then he completed dressing. If a pupil
were present, he had to play his lesson on the piano to Herr von Haydn,
while the master dressed. All mistakes were promptly corrected and a new
task was then set. This occupied an hour and a half. At 8 o’clock sharp,
breakfast had to be on the table, and immediately after breakfast Haydn
sat down at the piano improvising and drafting sketches of some
composition. From 8 o’clock to 11.30 his time was taken up in this way.
At 11.30 calls were received or made, or he went for a walk until 1.30.
The hour from 2 to 3 was reserved for dinner, after which Haydn
immediately did some little work in the house or resumed his musical
occupations. He scored the morning’s sketches, devoting three to four
hours to this. At 8 P.M. Haydn usually went out and at 9 he came home
and sat down to write a score or he took a book and read until 10 P.M.
At that time he had supper, which consisted of bread and wine. Haydn
made a rule of eating nothing but bread and wine at night and infringed
it only on sundry occasions when he was invited to supper. He liked gay
conversation and some merry entertainment at the table. At 11.30 he went
to bed, in his old age even later. Wintertime made no difference to the
schedule, except that Haydn got up half an hour later.”

                                 * * *

But despite this pleasant and comfortable routine Haydn was now
beginning to age rapidly. On December 26, 1803, he conducted for the
last time and, characteristically, for a hospital fund, the work he
directed being the “Seven Last Words”. He wrote two movements of a
string quartet, but by 1806, he had given up all idea of finishing it
and, as a conclusion, added a few bars of a song he had written in the
past few years, “Der Greis”, which begins “Hin ist alle meine Kraft, alt
und schwach bin ich” (“Gone is all my strength, old and weak am I”).
Friends and admirers in ever increasing numbers sought him out to pay
their respects. There came Cherubini, the Abbé Vogler, the violinist
Baillot, Pleyel, members of the Weber family, Mme. Bigot—a friend of
Beethoven and afterwards one of the piano teachers of Felix and Fanny
Mendelssohn; Hummel, the widow of Mozart, the Princess Eszterházy, the
actor, Iffland.

In 1805 a rumor gained currency that Haydn had died. The world was
shocked. Cherubini even composed a cantata on Haydn’s passing; Kreutzer
a violin concerto based on themes from Haydn’s works, while in Paris a
special memorial concert was arranged and Mozart’s Requiem was to be
given. Suddenly there came a letter from the master saying that “he was
still of this base world.” And he thanked his French admirers for their
well-meant gestures adding “had I only known of it in time, I would have
traveled to Paris to conduct the Requiem myself!” Johann Wenzel
Tomaschek told how Haydn greeted any visitor who might drop in: “He sat
in an armchair, very much dressed up. A powdered wig with sidelocks, a
white neckband with a bold buckle, a white richly embroidered waistcoat
of heavy silk, in the midst of which shone a splendid jabot, a dress of
fine coffee-colored cloth with embroidered cuffs, black silk breeches,
white silk hose, shoes with large silver buckles curved over the instep,
and on a little table next to him a pair of white kid gloves made up his

He made one last public appearance. It was at a performance of “The
Creation” given at the Vienna University in celebration of the master’s
76th birthday. About the only person of prominence not present was
Prince Eszterházy; but he at least sent his carriage to bring the master
to the concert! At the hall were assembled not alone the high nobility
but all the most distinguished musicians of the capital, among them
Beethoven, Salieri, Hummel, Gyrowetz. Salieri conducted. The
concertmaster was Franz Clement, for whom Beethoven wrote his violin
concerto. The French ambassador, seeing Haydn wearing the gold medal of
the Parisian Concerts des Amateurs, exclaimed: “This medal is not
enough; you should receive all the medals that France can distribute!”
The Princess Eszterházy not only sat next to the master but wrapped her
own shawl about him. It was on this occasion that Haydn made his
historic remark when the audience burst into applause at the sublime
passage “And there was Light.” As the concert progressed he became
visibly excited and it was thought advisable to take him home. As Haydn
left the auditorium Beethoven knelt down before him and reverently
kissed his hand and brow. Before the old man finally vanished from view
he turned one last time and lifted his hand in blessing on the

                                 * * *

By the spring of 1809 the Napoleonic wars were again devastating
Austria. The bombardment of the western suburbs of Vienna brought the
battle uncomfortably close to Haydn’s home. Nevertheless, the master
refused to leave and when a bomb fell close to the Gumpendorfer house
the old man reassured his frightened servants with the words: “Children,
don’t be frightened; where Haydn is, nothing can happen to you!” But the
continuous noise and excitement shook the invalid’s nerves so severely
that he took to his bed and left it only once. This was to be carried to
his piano, there to play three times in succession and with the deepest
possible feeling his own Austrian hymn, as if to defy those hostile
powers unwilling to let him die in peace. On the same day, however, he
was visited by a French officer, Clément Sulémy, who called to pay his
respects to the composer of “The Creation” and who, before he left, sat
down at the piano and sang the aria “In Native Worth” “in so manly and
so sublime a style, with so much truth of expression and musical
sentiment” that Haydn embraced him and said he had never heard the air
delivered in so masterly a fashion. Sulémy fell in battle the same day,
a fact which the composer, fortunately, never learned.

But his strength was now quite gone. He could only whisper to those
about him: “Children, be comforted, I am well.” Then he lapsed into
unconsciousness and shortly after midnight, May 31, 1809, he passed.
Napoleon saw to it that a military guard of honor was stationed at his
door. At his obsequies not only the cultural world of Vienna but also
the highest French military officials were present. And Mozart’s Requiem
was sung.

                                 * * *

The story cannot be ended without an allusion to its macabre epilogue.
Haydn was laid to rest in the Hundsturm Cemetery. But soon afterwards
Prince Eszterházy received permission to reinter the master in
Eisenstadt. There were lengthy delays, however, and in 1814 Sigismund
Neukomm was shocked to find the tomb in a state of dilapidation. He
placed on it a marble slab with Haydn’s favorite quotation from Horace,
“Non omnis moriar” (“I shall not wholly die”), set as a five part canon.
Six years later the Duke of Cambridge remarked to Prince Eszterházy “How
fortunate was the man who employed this Haydn in his lifetime and now
possesses his mortal remains!” The Prince said nothing, but experienced
a sharp twinge of conscience. So he gave orders for the exhumation and
the reburial in the Eisenstadt Bergkirche, where Haydn had conducted a
number of his masses. When the coffin was opened the officials were
appalled to find a body without a head! It developed that a certain Carl
Rosenbaum, once a secretary to Prince Eszterházy, and a penitentiary
official, one Johann Peter, had bribed the Viennese gravedigger, to
steal the skull which they wanted for phrenological experiments. Peter
had made an elaborately decorated box (with windows and a satin cushion)
for the gruesome relic. The outraged Prince sent the police to Peter,
who, meantime had given the skull to Rosenbaum. The police were quite as
unsuccessful at the Rosenbaum house, for the singer, Therese Gassmann
Rosenbaum, promptly hid the skull in her mattress and went to bed,
pretending illness. The hideous farce went a step further, when
Rosenbaum, expecting a bribe, substituted the head of some unidentified
old man. When Rosenbaum died he left Haydn’s skull to Peter, obligating
him to bequeath it to the museum of the Society of the Friends of Music,
in Vienna, where it was preserved since 1895.

It was reported that the Nazis, after the Austrian Anschluss in 1938,
proposed to bury the head in Haydn’s coffin at Eisenstadt. Whether they
carried out this plan is not known to the present writer.

                      COMPLETE LIST OF RECORDINGS
                              OF NEW YORK

                            COLUMBIA RECORDS

                 _Under the Direction of Bruno Walter_

  Barber—Symphony No. 1, Op. 9
  Beethoven—Concerto for Violin, Cello, Piano and Orchestra in C major
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  Beethoven—Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major (“Emperor”) (with Rudolf
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  Beethoven—Concerto in D major for Violin and Orchestra (with Joseph
  Beethoven—Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21—LP
  Beethoven—Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major (“Eroica”)—LP
  Beethoven—Symphony No. 5 in C minor—LP
  Beethoven—Symphony No. 8 in F major—LP
  Beethoven—Symphony No. 9 in D minor (“Choral”) (with Elena Nikolaidi,
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  Brahms—Song of Destiny (with Westminster Choir)—LP
  Dvorak—Slavonic Dance No. 1
  Dvorak—Symphony No. 4 in G major—LP
  Mahler—Symphony No. 4 in G major (with Desi Halban, soprano)—LP
  Mahler—Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor
  Mendelssohn—Concerto in E minor (with Nathan Milstein, violin)—LP
  Mendelssohn—Scherzo (from Midsummer Night’s Dream)
  Mozart—Cosi fan Tutti—Overture
  Mozart—Symphony No. 41 in C major (“Jupiter”), K. 551—LP
  Schubert—Symphony No. 7 in C major—LP
  Schumann, R.—Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major (“Rhenish”)—LP
  Smetana—The Moldau (“Vltava”)—LP
  Strauss, J.—Emperor Waltz

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  Copland—Billy the Kid (2 parts)
  Griffes—“The White Peacock”, Op. 7, No. 1—LP 7″
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  Khachaturian—“Masquerade Suite”—LP
  Sibelius—“Maiden with the Roses”—LP
  Tschaikowsky—Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32—LP
  Tschaikowsky—Overture Fantasy—Romeo and Juliet—LP
  Vaughan-Williams—Symphony No. 6 in E minor—LP
  Wagner—Die Walkure—Wotan Farewell and Magic Fire Music (Act III—Scene
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  Chopin—Les Sylphides—LP
  Glinka—Mazurka—“Life of the Czar”—LP 7″
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  Khachaturian—Gayne—Ballet Suite No. 1—LP
  Khachaturian—Gayne—Ballet Suite No. 2—LP
  Lecoq—Mme. Angot Suite—LP
  Prokofieff—March, Op. 99—LP
  Rimsky-Korsakov—The Flight of the Bumble Bee—LP 7″
  Shostakovich—Polka No. 3, “The Age of Gold”—LP 7″
  Shostakovich—Symphony No. 9—LP
  Shostakovich—Valse from “Les Monts D’Or”—LP
  Wieniawski—Concerto No. 2 in D minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 22
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  D’Indy—Symphony on a French Mountain Air for Orchestra and Piano—LP
  Milhaud—Suite Francaise—LP
  Mozart—Concerto No. 21 for Piano and Orchestra in C major—LP
  Saint-Saens—Symphony in C minor, No. 3 for Orchestra, Organ and Piano,
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  Bizet—Carmen—Entr’acte (Prelude to Act III)
  Bizet—Symphony in C major—LP
  Brahms—Symphony No. 1 in C minor—LP
  Brahms—Symphony No. 2 in D major—LP
  Copland—A Lincoln Portrait (with Kenneth Spencer, Narrator)—LP
  Enesco—Roumanian Rhapsody—A major, No. 1—LP
  Gershwin—An American in Paris—LP
  Gould—“Spirituals” for Orchestra—LP
  Ibert—“Escales” (Port of Call)—LP
  Liszt—Mephisto Waltz—LP
  Moussorgsky—Gopack (The Fair at Sorotchinski)—LP
  Moussorgsky-Ravel—Pictures at an Exhibition—LP
  Prokofieff—Symphony No. 5—LP
  Rachmaninoff—Concerto No. 2 in C minor for Piano and Orchestra (with
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  Rachmaninoff—Symphony No. 2 in E minor
  Saint-Saens—Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 4 in C minor (with
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  Sibelius—Symphony No. 4 in A minor
  Tschaikowsky—Nutcracker Suite—LP
  Tschaikowsky—Suite “Mozartiana”—LP
  Tschaikowsky—Symphony No. 6 in B minor (“Pathetique”)—LP
  Wagner—Lohengrin—Bridal Chamber Scene (Act III—Scene 2)—(with Helen
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  Wagner—Lohengrin—Elsa’s Dream (Act I, Scene 2) (with Helen Traubel,
  Wagner—Siegfried Idyll—LP
  Wagner—Tristan und Isolde—Excerpts (with Helen Traubel, soprano)
  Wagner—Die Walkure—Act III (Complete) (with Helen Traubel, soprano and
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  Wagner—Die Walkure—Duet (Act I, Scene 3) (with Helen Traubel, soprano
        and Emery Darcy, tenor)—LP
  Wolf-Ferrari—“Secret of Suzanne”, Overture

                _Under the Direction of Igor Stravinsky_

  Stravinsky—Firebird Suite—LP
  Stravinsky—Fireworks (Feu d’Artifice)—LP
  Stravinsky—Four Norwegian Moods
  Stravinsky—Le Sacre du Printemps (The Consecration of the Spring)—LP
  Stravinsky—Scenes de Ballet—LP
  Stravinsky—Suite from “Petrouchka”—LP
  Stravinsky—Symphony in Three Movements—LP

                _Under the Direction of John Barbirolli_

  Bach-Barbirolli—Sheep May Safely Graze (from the “Birthday
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  Brahms—Symphony No. 2, in D major
  Brahms—Academic Festival Overture—LP
  Bruch—Concerto No. 1, in G minor (with Nathan Milstein, violin)—LP
  Debussy—First Rhapsody for Clarinet (with Benny Goodman, clarinet)
  Debussy—Petite Suite: Ballet
  Mozart—Concerto in B-flat major (with Robert Casadesus, piano)
  Mozart—Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183
  Ravel—La Valse
  Rimsky-Korsakov—Capriccio Espagnol
  Sibelius—Symphony No. 1, in E minor
  Sibelius—Symphony No. 2, in D major
  Smetana—The Bartered Bride—Overture
  Tschaikowsky—Theme and Variations (from Suite No. 3 in G)—LP

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  Mendelssohn—Symphony No. 4, in A major (“Italian”)
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  Tschaikowsky—Capriccio Italien

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  Gershwin—Concerto in F (with Oscar Levant)—LP

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  Beethoven—Symphony No. 7 in A major
  Brahms—Variations on a Theme by Haydn
  Dukas—The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
  Gluck—Orfeo ed Euridice—Dance of the Spirits
  Haydn—Symphony No. 4 in D major (The Clock)
  Mendelssohn—Midsummer Night’s Dream—Scherzo
  Mozart—Symphony in D major (K. 385)
  Rossini—Barber of Seville—Overture
  Rossini—Italians in Algiers—Overture
  Verdi—Traviata—Preludes to Acts I and II
  Wagner—Excerpts—Lohengrin—Die Götterdämmerung—Siegfried Idyll

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  Debussy—Iberia (Images, Set 3, No. 2)
  Purcell—Suite for Strings with four Horns, Two Flutes, English Horn
  Respighi—Fountains of Rome
  Respighi—Old Dances and Airs (Special recording for members of the
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  Schubert—Symphony No. 4 in C minor (Tragic)
  Schumann—Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D minor (with Yehudi
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  J. C. Bach—Arr. Stein—Sinfonia in B-flat major
  J. S. Bach—Arr. Mahler—Air for G string (from Suite for Orchestra)
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  Handel—Alcina Suite
  Mendelssohn—War March of the Priests (from Athalia)
  Meyerbeer—Prophete—Coronation March
  Saint-Saens—Rouet d’Omphale (Omphale’s Spinning Wheel)
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                      _Great Performances by the_
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  BRUNO WALTER conducting
  Beethoven: _Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67_
    One 12-inch 33⅓ LP Record ML 4297.
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  Schubert: _Symphony No. 7 in C Major_
    One 12-inch 33⅓ LP Record ML 4093.
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  Wagner: _Die Götterdämmerung—Siegfried’s Rhine Journey and Siegfried’s
        Funeral Music_
    One 12-inch 33⅓ LP Record ML 4273.
    Romeo and Juliet also on 78 rpm Set MM-898

  EFREM KURTZ conducting
  Chopin: _Les Sylphides—Ballet_ (_Orchestrated by A. Gretchaninov_)
  Villa-Lobos: _Uirapurú_ (_A Symphonic Poem_)
    One 12-inch 33⅓ LP Record ML 4255.
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                          Transcriber’s Notes

--A few palpable typos were silently corrected.

--Illustrations were shifted to the nearest paragraph break.

--Copyright notice is from the printed exemplar. (U.S. copyright was not
  renewed: this ebook is in the public domain.)

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