Vienna Celebrates The Life of Joseph Haydn
Edited by J. Moorhouse
Joseph Haydn was born on March 31, 1732, in Rohrau (Lower Austria), the second of twelve children of a coach-builder and a cook. He exhibited a talent for music at a very early age.
At the age of six, he began receiving instruction in singing and instrumental music with a cousin in Hainburg (Lower Austria). One day, the conductor of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral noticed little Joseph and brought the eight-year-old to Vienna as a choir boy. For nine years, he enjoyed a – mainly technical – musical instruction; in addition, he was also much in demand as a solo singer in the mansions of the Viennese aristocracy.
In 1749, when his voice started to break, he was forced to look after himself. He found employment as a valet with the celebrated conductor Nicola Porpora at Michaeler House, which exists to this day, right next to St. Michael’s Church (where he played the organ). In return, he received musical instructions for five years – he was poor but happy in his room in the attic: "I could work on my worm-eaten piano and did not envy any king for his happiness."
After a short employment at Wieselburg Palace (Lower Austria) and as director of music for Count Morzin in Lukawetz near Pilsen (in today's Czech Republic), in 1760 he married Maria Anna Keller in St. Stephen’s Cathedral. She was the daughter of a wigmaker and was in truth his second choice – he would have preferred her sister. The couple had a childless marriage with little happiness; rumor has it that Haydn had a few relationships “on the side.” In 1761 he made a fortuitous career move: he entered the services of the rich Esterházy family in Eisenstadt, for 29 years. During this time, he visited Vienna often; in 1785 he also met Mozart in his apartment (today Mozart House Vienna) and entered the same Freemason lodge as Mozart (Zur wahren Eintracht – True Harmony).
Move to Vienna and World Renown
From 1790 until his death in 1809 (considering life expectancies at the time, Haydn reached an almost biblical age), Joseph Haydn lived in Vienna. In 1793, he bought the suburban house Obere Windmühle at Kleine Steingasse 73 (today it is a museum, the Haydn House, 6, Haydngasse 6) and started to live in it in 1797.
Here he created his oratories “The Creation” and “The Seasons.” In 1791-92 he undertook the first of his two most successful journeys to England. The high point of this trip came when he received the Honorary Doctorate for Music of the University of Oxford. (The solemn celebration lasted three days and took place in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford.) He was a celebrated star in Great Britain and was quite at home in the mansions of aristocrats and palaces of royalty.
His second trip to England in 1794-95 was also a temporary sojourn: despite the flattering offer to remain, Haydn decided to return to Vienna. In March 1808, the old master was carried in his chair to his last public appearance at the assembly hall of the Old University (today Academy of Science, 1, Dr.-Ignaz-Seipel-Platz 2), where he attended the performance of his “Creation.” Another of the illustrious guests: Ludwig van Beethoven.
On May 31, 1809, at the age of 77, he died peacefully in the Haydn House, where he was taken care of for many years by a housekeeper and by his secretary Johann Elssler, father of the famous dancer Fanny Elssler. In his old age, it is said, he intoned daily the melody of his Imperial Anthem.
Napoleon, commander of the enemy troops occupying Vienna, showed his admiration for the composer: when Haydn was fading, he posted an honorary guard in front of his house. Haydn’s first grave can be found in Vienna in Hundsturm Cemetery (today’s Haydn Park, 12, Gaudenzdorfer Gürtel) – only a memorial plaque with the – translated – inscription "I will not die completely" can today be found in an area that is not exactly inviting.
Followers of the science of phrenology which was then in fashion (they purport to be able to deduce intellectual abilities from the form of the skull) stole Haydn’s skull. After changing owners several times – a crime case of the first order – the skull reached the Mountain Church in Eisenstadt where the rest of Haydn’s remains rested since 1820.
The Oeuvre of the Master
Joseph Haydn was a prolific composer: he left behind more than 1,000 compositions. A complete listing of the works of Joseph Haydn was put together by the Dutch music scientist Anthony van Hoboken (1887–1983) and is known as the Hoboken Catalogue.
Among the compositions are 108 symphonies (“Farewell,” “The Clock,” “Surprise”), 24 operas (“Acide e Galatea,” “L'infedeltá delusa,” "Orlando Paladino," "Armida,"), 14 masses (“Nelson Mass,” “Theresienmesse,”), oratorios (“The Creation,” “The Seasons”), solo concertos, chamber music pieces, vocal works, and many more.
Haydn is traditionally considered the “Father" of the classical symphony and the string quartet and an innovator in the composition of piano sonatas and piano trios. Probably more than any other composer, he is known for the jokes hidden in his music. The most famous example is the sudden loud accord in his symphony No. 94, “The Surprise.”
His early work is clearly marked by the Baroque, then follows the period of Sturm und Drang – filled with risky accords, sudden transitions, and strange harmonies in minor keys. Starting in 1781-82, a lively exchange of ideas began with W. A. Mozart. Both recognized the other as an equal master, they became friends and learned from each other. In the 1970s, Haydn, inspired by his journeys to England, developed his very own popular style: a way of composing which results in music that is incredibly successful. He used Austrian or Croat folkloristic (or self-invented pseudo-folkloristic) material. This style can be heard in almost all of his later works, for example in the twelve London symphonies. Together with W. A. Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn is considered a master of the Vienna Classic.
Haydn: Creator of the German
The present German National Anthem consists only of the third verse of the Deutschlandlied. The song was performed publicly for the first time on October 1841 in Hamburg.
Joseph Haydn composed the melody as the Emperor Hymn for Franz II, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, upon a suggestion by Franz Josef Count Saurau, between October 1796 and January 1797 after a text by Leopold Haschka. Haydn was probably inspired by a Croat folk song that he remembered from his childhood or from his work in the fields as a grownup; it was sung in the Croatian regions of the Burgenland with different texts. On February 12, 1797, the anthem was performed on the occasion of the birthday of the emperor in all Viennese theaters, and the emperor himself attended the performance in Vienna’s Burgtheater. The emperor was happy with the composition and gave Haydn a box with his picture.
In 1922, the song became the national anthem of the German Reich. During the Third Reich, the first verse and the National Socialist "Horst Wessel song" were sung together as an anthem. After the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany, only the third verse was sung on official occasions. In 1991, after the reunification of the Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic, the third verse was declared the official national anthem of Germany in an exchange of letters between Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker and Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl (Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit für das deutsche Vaterland – Unity and Right and Freedom for the German Fatherland)
A Star in Great Britain
Haydn’s arrival in England on January 1, 1791 caused a stir – as much as the fact that Haydn was greeted at a court ball at St. James Palace by the Prince of Wales with a visible bow. Haydn’s concerts were social events of the first order. But the Handel Festival at Westminster Abbey under the patronage of the king also left a lasting impression on the composer himself.
Haydn left the British Isles in June 1792 after two successful concert series. He traveled back to Austria via Bonn, where he met the talented young Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).
In January 1794, Haydn traveled to England a second time – he was again a great success. The “Military Symphony,” the most popular of all his symphonies during his lifetime, was performed for the first time. The 250 works that Haydn composed for his two London visits alone could easily stand for the life's work of any composer.
Haydn received the great honor to be included in the programs of the “Ancient Concerts” as the only living composer. He also found official recognition by participating in the concerts of the English king George III (1738-1820) to whom he was introduced by George, Prince of Wales (1762-1830). The English king and his wife Charlotte tried to convince Haydn to stay longer in England and offered him an apartment in Windsor, but even they were not successful …
Haydn House: The Artist’s Domicile and Haydn Museum
Haydn’s domicile in Vienna for 12 years. Haydn bought the ground-level Vienna suburban house in Kleine Steingasse 73 (today Haydngasse 19, very close to the lively shopping mile Mariahilfer Strasse) in 1793 and had it renovated, adding another floor. Here, the bulk of his late work was composed, among them the great oratorios “The Creation” and “The Seasons.”
It is likely that Haydn’s apartment was the upper floor while the ground floor was reserved for his valet and copyist Johann Elssler, father of the celebrated dancer Fanny Elssler.
The exhibition in the Haydn House, redesigned for Haydn Year 2009 and reopened on January 29, 2009.
A celebration which lasts three days will take place around Haydn's 200th anniversary of his death on May 31, 2009. The garden of the Haydn House will be presented in the state of Haydn's lifetime and Haydn's works will be performed in many concerts.
The composer Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) was a passionate admirer of Haydn who diligently cared for the memory of his great idol – so there is also a Brahms Memorial in the Haydn House. One can see, among other things, Brahms’s clavichord, which supposedly was once owned by Joseph Haydn.
Mozart House Vienna: Visiting Mozart,
The Mozart House was the meeting place for the
best Viennese artists. The musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart called Haydn his “fatherly friend.” The two composers
met on February 2, 1785, here in Domgasse, where Mozart stayed
from 1784 to 1787 in an apartment with four rooms, two small
rooms, and a kitchen – almost lordly. This is the only one of
about a dozen of Mozart’s Viennese apartments that has been
preserved until today.
Here, 17-year-old Joseph Haydn played the organ in 1749. He lived right next to the church in a small attic in the Michaeler House. By the way, it was in this church that Mozart’s last work, the Requiem, was first performed soon after his death.
The catacombs, in which bodies do not decay due to special climatic conditions, are well worth a visit. Between 1631 and 1784, about 4,000 persons were buried here. Today, one can still see hundreds of caskets, some of them painted with flowers and skulls, and mummified corpses, some in Baroque frock coats and wigs. The most famous dead person in the vault is Pietro Metastasio, a friend of Haydn and the librettist of some Mozart operas.
Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the Austrian emperor, is one of the most beautiful baroque palaces in all of Europe. Here too, Haydn left his mark ...
... that is, in 1745, when little Joseph was a member of the cathedral choir of St. Stephen's Cathedral and lived in the former Domkapellmeisterhaus (the house of the Cathedral music director) on Stephansplatz. At that time, the Cathedral Choir performed in the palace. But what stood out about the future composer is his bad manners: he made such a racket climbing on the scaffolding (which was against the rules) that he received a sound thrashing.
The next time that Haydn performed at the palace, the painful memory of that debut had receded quite a bit, was three decades later. And Haydn was no longer a mere choirboy, but rather the music director in the employ of the Esterházy court. In that capacity he played with the prince's orchestra in 1777, on the occasion of a visit from the Prince Elector of Trier before the imperial table.
A magnificent setting for glorious music. Since most of the 1441 rooms of the palace are in the rococo style, the many white surfaces are richly adorned with 14-carat gold leaf, crystal chandeliers spread light, and ceramic stoves warmth.
Today you can use the "Grand Tour with Audio Guide" while you view 45 rooms of the palace – among others, the simple living and work chambers of Emperor Franz Joseph, the resplendent representation rooms, the mirror room, the Great Gallery, in which the Congress of Vienna danced and state receptions are still held today, the Chinese Round Cabinet, where Maria Theresia held secret meetings, or the rosewood-paneled Millions Room with exquisite miniatures from India and Persia. After visiting the palace, be sure to the enchanting Palace Park with the Palm House, the Gloriette, and the Zoo.
Esterházykeller: Haydn Enjoyed His Wine
These venerable vaults date back from 1683, and they inspired wine lover Haydn for many of his works.
In the historic rooms, one finds a unique combination
of typical Viennese cuisine, wine, and historic
exhibitions (“The Princes Esterházy and Joseph Haydn” and “The
Princes Esterházy and the Turkish Wars”). During the summer a romantic
outdoor restaurant in the pedestrian zones of the Haarhof also belongs
to the Esterházykeller. A piece of Old Vienna ...
The handmade bricks of the original vault from the fifteenth century tell stories of legends, wine happiness and tradition. The Esterházykeller has remained a place for social gatherings, joie de vivre, and communication to the present day.
The heart of the Esterházykeller is the water-cooled bottle bar. The bar itself is already a rarity; one hardly sees another of this size. This is wine culture of the first order. More than ten quality wines are served by the glass, and the bar boasts numerous exquisite bottled wines. Baroque Maria Treu Basilica: Haydn Concerts and Culinary Delights in the Piaristenkeller.
Baroque Maria Treu Basilica: Haydn Concerts and Culinary Delights in the Piaristenkeller