Franz Joseph Haydn: CDs & DVDs: Best CDs & DVDs of Franz Joseph Haydn

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Franz Joseph Haydn: CDs & DVDs - The Best CDs & DVDs of Franz Joseph Haydn

Franz Joseph Haydn: Overview

Franz Joseph Haydn: Franz Joseph Haydn (b. Rohrau,31 March 1732; d. Vienna, 31 May 1809).

Franz Joseph Haydn was born at Rohrau, lower Austria, second son of the wheelwright Matthias Haydn. Like Handel, Franz Joseph Haydn seems to have had no notable musical ancestry. He received his first musical training from his cousin Johann Mathias Franck, and at the age of eight was admitted as a chorister at St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna where he remained until 1748. Kapellmeister Georg Reutter took little interest in Franz Joseph Haydn, and when his voice had broken he was dismissed from the choir and obliged to live on his own resources. He experienced great poverty at this time, yet managed to obtain and study some important theoretical works (Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum, for instance) and so gradually build up his technique as a composer. He also received a few lessons from Nicola Porpora, the famous Italian composer and singing teacher then living in Vienna.

Franz Joseph Haydn's early compositions, which include string quartets, divertimenti, cassations and the Mass in F, gained him increasing recognition. In 1759 he was appointed Musik- direktor to Count Morzin who maintained a small private orchestra at Lucavec near Plzen. Franz Joseph Haydn's salary of 200 florins a year, though small, granted security, and in November 1760 he married Maria Anna Keller. The marriage was ill-fated. The following year Count Morzin was compelled to disband his musical establishment and Franz Joseph Haydn was obliged to seek employment elsewhere. The then reigning Prince, Paul Anton Esterhazy, had heard several of Franz Joseph Haydn's works when visiting Morzin and was quick to secure the services of the young composer as a second Kapellmeister under the then ageing Werner. He took up the appointment in May 1761 and remained in the full employment of the enormously wealthy Esterhazy's until 1790. Eisenstadt, the country seat of his employer, possessed an orchestra, chorus and solo singers who took part in the church services, concerts and sometimes operas. Franz Joseph Haydn's enthusiasm added great impetus to the Eisenstadt musical life, and in return the excellence of the resident musicians was a powerful source of inspiration.. Franz Joseph Haydn became sole Kapellmeister at Werner's death in 1766; Prince Paul Anton had died four years earlier and was succeeded by his brother Nicolaus 'the Magnificent' who was one of the greatest benefactors of the arts in the whole of the Age of Patronage. A new Palace - Esterhaz - was built near Siittor, beside the Neusiedlersee, and its splendours were said to compare with Versailles. Provisions for music included a sumptuous opera theatre, a second theatre, and two concert halls; the orchestra was selected from the house musicians and directed by Franz Joseph Haydn. Visiting companies were often engaged, and travelling virtuosi often performed with the orchestra. Special periods were set aside for chamber music. Franz Joseph Haydn was highly respected by his musicians, and he himself was on the best of terms with his employer - his salary was generous, and he was given every encouragement to write as he felt and as he wished. In his own words: "As a 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, 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, and I was forced to become original."

Franz Joseph Haydn's contract with the Esterhazys had initially forbidden him to sell or give away any of his compositions, but these provisions were soon relaxed; in the early 1770s his works were appearing in print in London and Amsterdam.

Prince Nicolaus frequently entertained distinguished guests at Esterhaz. The Empress Maria Theresa was there in September 1773, and heard, among other works, a new symphony by Franz Joseph Haydn (No. 48, which now bears her name). The Prince took great pleasure in Esterhaz and he was reluctant to leave it; he rarely visited Eisenstadt, and journeys elsewhere were often curtailed. Consequently, his musicians were frequently obliged to remain at Esterhaz for long periods - many of them not allowed to bring their families. Franz Joseph Haydn's Farewell Symphony (No. 45, 1772) discreetly drew the Prince's attention to the matter and achieved a satisfactory solution: 'If all go,' said the Prince, 'we may as well go too.'

During his visits to Vienna between 1780 and 1790, Franz Joseph Haydn met a number of artists including Paisiello and Sarti, and three visitors from London: Nancy and Stephen Storace and Thomas Attwood. But by far the most important meeting of all was with Mozart. It is thought that they first met during the winter of 1781/2 during the court festivities in honour of Grand Duke Paul, though there is no documentary evidence to support this. The Irish singer and actor Michael Kelly, in his Reminiscences, comments on a quartet party held in the home of Stephen Storace. He remarks humorously that: "The players were tolerable, not one of them excelled in the instrument he played; but there was a science among them, which I dare say will be acknowledged when I name them: The First Violin, Franz Joseph Haydn; Second Violin, Baron Dittersdorf; Violoncello, Vanhall; Tenor, Mozart. The poet Casti and Paesiello formed part of the audience. I was there, and a greater treat or a more remarkable one cannot be imagined."

Although Franz Joseph Haydn made only brief annual visits to Vienna until 1790, and Mozart did not visit Eisenstadt, the two composers held each other in very high esteem. In 1785 Mozart composed a set of six quartets which he dedicated to Franz Joseph Haydn. After a performance of one of these, Franz Joseph Haydn made his now-famous remark to Mozart's father: T tell before God and as an honest man, that your son is the greatest composer I know, personally or by reputation, he has taste and apart from that the greatest possible knowledge of composition.'

During the late 1780s Franz Joseph Haydn received several invitations to travel abroad, but declined all of them, probably because of a strong sense of allegiance to Prince Nicolaus. On the 28th September 1790, Prince Nicolaus died leaving Franz Joseph Haydn an annual pension of 1000 florins while he remained Kapellmeister. The new Prince, Anton, added another 400 florins but then dismissed the whole musical establishment. Franz Joseph Haydn moved to Vienna.

The well-known London impressario and violinist Johann Peter Salomon, on hearing of Prince Nicolaus's death, immediately went to Vienna to try to persuade Franz Joseph Haydn to visit London. He succeeded, and on Wednesday the 15th December 1790, they set off for London arriving on New Year's Day 1791. Franz Joseph Haydn was afforded great acclaim; he received visits from the aristocracy, and was surrounded by a host of distinguished artists. He was constantly in demand at public functions ranging from musical societies to Lord Mayors' Banquets.

Salomon, before leaving Vienna, had commissioned Franz Joseph Haydn to compose six symphonies, which were now performed in a series of extremely successful subscription concerts. Such was the immediate appeal of these works that the Adagio of the symphony heard during the first concert (No. 93), was encored - a very unusual occurrence. On the 8th July 1791 Oxford University conferred on Franz Joseph Haydn the honorary degree of Doctor of Music. During the celebrations, the previously-composed Oxford Symphony (No. 92) was performed with Franz Joseph Haydn directing from the organ. He returned to London to find that the directors of the 'Professional Concerts', hoping to establish themselves as rivals of Salomon, had invited his former pupil Ignaz Pleyel to conduct their concerts. Master and pupil remained the best of friends, without the slightest hint of rivalry. Franz Joseph Haydn continued to produce symphonies, concerti, divertimenti and arias for his concerts in great quantity, and all were received with tremendous enthusiasm. After the concert season had finished, he visited Windsor, Ascot races, and Slough where he met the famous astronomer Sir William Herschel. In 1791 he attended the meeting of Charity Children in St Paul's Cathedral, and as his diary relates, was greatly impressed with their singing. The same year he was present at a performance of Messiah given during the Handel Commemoration in Westminster Abbey; overwhelmed by the 'Hallelujah' chorus, Franz Joseph Haydn exclaimed, 'He is the master of us all.'

Towards the end of June 1792, Franz Joseph Haydn returned to Vienna by way of Bonn where he met Beethoven. The Viennese audiences had been eagerly awaiting hearing the London symphonies and they were not disappointed. In December 1792 Beethoven journeyed to Vienna and became a pupil of Franz Joseph Haydn until the latter left in 1794 on his second journey to England, again at the instigation of Salomon. The second London visit followed very much the same format as the first. Franz Joseph Haydn was again asked to provide six new symphonies, which included the Military Symphony (No.100), whose array of 'Turkish' percussion instruments enthralled the London audiences. There was ample opportunity for Franz Joseph Haydn to further his acquaintance with Handel's music as regular performances of the oratorios were held in Lent both at Covent Garden and Drury Lane. Salomon was unable to continue his concerts after January 1795, and Franz Joseph Haydn subsequently became associated with the 'Opera Concert' series at the King's Theatre in the Haymarket where he was joined by dementi, Dussek, Cramer and Salomon.

At the end of his stay in London, Franz Joseph Haydn was a frequent guest of the Royal family, some of whom were accomplished musicians. The King and Queen invited him to spend the summer at Windsor, but Franz Joseph Haydn declined, being unwilling to completely abandon Prince Esterhazy. Franz Joseph Haydn returned to Vienna in 1798. His second visit to England had been as strenuous as the first, and equally as remunerative. His concerts, lessons and compositions had again realised the substantial sum of £1200.

He spent his last years in Vienna composing as rapidly as ever. In January 1797, Franz Joseph Haydn provided the Austrian people with their national anthem, the Austrian Hymn. The Masses and grand Te Deum had already demonstrated Handel's powerful influence on Franz Joseph Haydn's choral music, and the two oratorios - The Creation (1797/8) and The Seasons (1801) - proved this beyond doubt. Both were immensely successful, and did much to establish the important position of oratorio in 19th-century musical life.

By now the infirmities of old age were becoming evident. Prince Nicolaus II supplemented Franz Joseph Haydn's pension to 2300 florins and paid all his medical bills, thus removing any financial burden from the composer. Franz Joseph Haydn died on the 31st May 1809 and was buried in the Hundsturm Churchyard. His remains were later exhumed, by command of Prince Esterhazy, and rcinterred in the upper parish church at Eisenstadt. At his death, Franz Joseph Haydn's genius was acknowledged throughout Europe, and he was honoured by all.

It is often asserted that Franz Joseph Haydn invented the symphony and string quartet. The symphony was a flourishing form long before Franz Joseph Haydn began to compose. Johann Stamitz, the greatest of the famous Mannheim School, wrote several dozen symphonies before his death in 1757, and 1757 has been established as the very earliest date for Franz Joseph Haydn's first symphony. Franz Joseph Haydn turned to the examples of the Viennese composers, Wagenseil and Monn, not perhaps so much the Mannheim School, and between 1 759 and 1 769 produced his first forty-nine symphonies. The early symphonies are in the galante style, easy to listen to, even somewhat superficial. With Symphony No. 49 La Passione, composed in 1768, the music becomes more emotional, the direct result of the influence of Sturm und Drang; Franz Joseph Haydn had become more aware of the possibilities of the form. He now displayed a greater interest in the question of musical architecture - which became one of the chief constituents of the continuous link between late Franz Joseph Haydn and early Beethoven. With the Oxford Symphony, No.92 (1788) Franz Joseph Haydn reached full maturity as a symphonic composer, and from then on - with the London symphonies - demonstrates complete assurance in handling the form. The London symphonies represent the culmination of his art as a symphonist; they synthesize all that he had done in the field, and in many ways anticipate the symphonic works of Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Mendelssohn.

Although we do not know exactly how the string quartet began, we do know that Franz Joseph Haydn was directly responsible for establishing the form. The Op. 20 Sun quartets, dating from 1771, mark the beginning of the string quartet repertoire. A notable feature of these quartets is the growing independence of instruments; viola and 'cello begin to share the melodic interest, and were not simply retained for purposes of accompaniment. The Op.33 Russian quartets written 'in an entirely new and special manner' did not appear until 1781 . They show considerable advances on the Sun Quartets, particularly in their mastery of thematic development. Mozart was greatly impressed by these works, they came as an artistic shock to him, and certainly affected a lot of his music. Franz Joseph Haydn's last quartets include Op. 76 (a collection of six, 1797) and the two quartets of Op.77, the second of which is probably his greatest work in this form. These quartets represent the highest sophistication of his use of sonata form, and in their liberation of instruments clearly foreshadow Beethoven.

Franz Joseph Haydn's keyboard sonatas date from a wide span of the composer's life, from 1760 to 1794. They demonstrate a great variety of styles and vary also as to the intended medium for performance: clavichord, harpsichord, or piano. The music is marvellously unpredictable - he loved the unexpected - compared with the more formalised manner of Mozart. Franz Joseph Haydn dedicated his last three sonatas to the brilliant pianist Theresa Jansen, whom he met in London during his second visit. These three works may be regarded as the summit of Franz Joseph Haydn's achievement in writing for the piano; the drama and vigour of the E flat major sonata, for instance, points directly towards Beethoven.

As we have seen, the symphonies composed for London were immensely successful. Surprisingly, they were the last that he wrote, although he did continue to compose instrumental music. He returned to the large-scale orchestral Mass, using its extended length in a symphonic manner; the late Mass settings are in reality symphonies for voice and orchestra using the Mass text. His early Masses, of which the Mass in F is an excellent example, are written in a bright rococo manner typical of the late 1750s. During the 1770s the passions of Sturm und Drang effected a change in Franz Joseph Haydn's church music comparable with that in his instrumental works, and prompted a new interest in intensity through rhythmic counterpoint. The Stabat Mater is a perfect example of this transformation: chromaticism, sighs, syncopations and sforzandi (essentially the language of C. P. E. Bach) beautifully underline the text.

The last six Masses are masterpieces. They were written for Prince Nicolaus Esterhazy (II) who took a great interest in sacred music. The works were conceived on a large scale, and pay eloquent tribute to the great Handel oratorios which had so greatly impressed Franz Joseph Haydn in London. The Missa in Tempore Belli or Paukenmesse of 1796, and the Missa in Angustiis or Nelson Mass of 1798 are excellent examples of the breadth of design and dignity of these works, and together with the Harmoniemesse of 1802, reflect much of the character of the instrumentation of the London symphonies. The cheerfulness which pervades Franz Joseph Haydn's Mass settings does not arise from frivolity: the composer himself acknowledged that 'at the thought of God his heart leaped for joy, and he could not help his music doing the same'.

Franz Joseph Haydn's influence is also felt in the two Viennese oratorios The Creation and The Seasons. No sooner had the score of The Creation been engraved than the work was performed everywhere- indeed, its popularity for a long time equalled Messiah. The text Franz Joseph Haydn used was an 18th-century English fusion of the First Book of Genesis and the seventh book of Milton's Paradise Lost, abridged and translated into German by Franz Joseph Haydn's friend Baron Gottfried von Swieten. The work, as Messiah, falls into three sections, and is notable for its vivid musical descriptions of the various stages of the evolution of order from chaos. Franz Joseph Haydn's last major work, The Seasons, appeared in 1801, but did not achieve the same lasting popularity as The Creation. The work suffers from a relative weakness of musical contrast, and an apparent lack of any compelling dramatic core. It is for this reason that the last six Masses have proved generally more popular than The Seasons. The same criticism-alack of dramatic impetus- is often levelled against the twenty-five or so operas which Franz Joseph Haydn composed for performance at Esterhaz.

Nothing has been said of Franz Joseph Haydn's concertos, or certain aspects of his chamber music, because these works are relatively less important in his total output. It was as a composer of symphonies and string quartets that he exerted the greatest influence on the subsequent course of music. In the words of Mozart: There is no one who can do it all - to joke and to terrify, to evoke laughter and profound sentiment - and all equally well: except Franz Joseph Haydn.'

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