Johann Michael Haydn: CDs & DVDs: Best CDs & DVDs of Johann Michael Haydn

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Johann Michael Haydn: CDs & DVDs - The Best CDs & DVDs of Johann Michael Haydn




Johann Michael Haydn: Overview


Johann Michael Haydn: Johann Michael Haydn (b. Rohrau, 14 Sept 1737; d. Salzburg, 10 Aug 1806).



Johann Michael Haydn, younger brother of Joseph Haydn, was born in Rohrau, Lower Austria. He was a chorister at St Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna, from 1745 until 1754, and succeeded his brother as principal soloist. He became proficient on the violin, and his skill in organ playing soon enabled him to act as deputy organist of St Stephen's. He showed greater aptitude for academic work than Joseph, and became something of a leader among his circle of friends, forming a club for the detection of plagiarism in their musical work! He taught 'himself composition from Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum, which he copied out in full in 1757. The same year, he was appointed Kapellmeister to the Bishop of Grosswardien, and in 1762 succeeded Johann Ernst Eberlin as conductor of the Salzburg court orchestra. He also became organist of the churches of Holy Trinity and St Peter in 1777, succeeding Anton Adlgasser. His salary, at first 30 florins with board and lodging, was afterwards doubled, but still remained a modest income. In August 1768 he married the Salzburg court singer Maria Magdalena Lipp, daughter of the second organist of the Cathedral; Maria is known to have taken the principal soprano parts in several of Mozart's early operas. The couple settled in Salzburg; their one child, a daughter born in 1770, died in infancy. Johann Michael Haydn turned to drink, quite often to the detriment of his organ playing. During a performance of a Te Deum he was, as Leopold Mozart relates, a 'little drunk, and head and hands could not get together'.



In 1798, Johann Michael Haydn visited Vienna where he met his brother who had recently returned from his second enormously successful visit to England. Among the other composers he met were Sussmayr and Hummel. In December 1800, Salzburg was taken by the French, and Johann Michael Haydn's property was seized. Joseph sent some money and a gold watch to help him recover his loss, and the Empress Maria Theresa commissioned a Mass setting and later a Requiem. At about the same time Johann Michael Haydn and his friend Rittensteiner visited Joseph at Eisenstadt. Prince Esterhazy commissioned Johann Michael Haydn to compose a Mass setting and Vespers, and also offered him the appointment of second Kapellmeister which he refused, hoping that the conditions of his employment at Salzburg would improve. Soon afterwards he was elected a member of the Stockholm Academy, an indication of the extent of his reputation. He completed his last Mass in December 1805, and continued working on the Requiem commissioned by the Empress. This remained unfinished at his death, which occurred on the 10th August 1806. He was buried in St Peter's Church, and a fine monument was erected in his memory. After visiting the church in 1825, Schubert wrote: "Here is to be found, as you know, M. Haydn's monument. It is rather pretty, though not well placed. ... It hovers round me - I thought to myself - thou tranquil, clear spirit, thou good Haydn, and if I cannot myself be so tranquil and clear, there is no one in the world, surely, who reveres thee so deeply as I."



Leopold Mozart, writing to his son, remarks that 'Herr Haydn is a man whose merit you will be forced to acknowledge.' We know that Wolfgang did: he copied out and studied a number of Johann Michael Haydn's works. In 1767, Mozart made his first contribution as a composer to the Archiepiscopal court, collaborating with Adlgasser and Johann Michael Haydn in writing a dramatic oratorio entitled Die Schuldigkeit des ersten und furnehmsten Gebotes. The Archbishop commissioned Johann Michael Haydn to compose two duets for violin and viola: we know that because of indisposition, these were actually written by Mozart, and submitted under Haydn's name. The Symphony in G (No.16) was formerly thought to be entirely the work of Mozart (and actually numbered as his Symphony 37, K444), but we now know that Mozart's authorship extends merely to the introduction of the first movement, the remainder being by Johann Michael Haydn. The Toy Symphony, long ascribed to Joseph Haydn, is now thought to be the work of Leopold Mozart or Johann Michael Haydn, and possibly even a compilation of both.



As a composer, Johann Michael Haydn was overshadowed by his brother. Yet contemporaries regarded his church music as better than Joseph's. Indeed the latter professed that in earnestness, severity of style, and sustained power, Johann Michael Haydn's church music was superior to his own - a view shared by E.T.A. Hoffmann in his collection of essays entitled Old and New Church Music (1814). Johann Michael Haydn's church music has tremendous dignity, reflecting his study of Fux's treatise, and this is admirably demonstrated in the Mass in D minor and the Lauda Sion. The Requiem in C minor (1771) in matters of structure vividly foreshadows Mozart's great work of twenty years later.



The instrumental music includes symphonies, concerti, serenades, marches and minuets for full orchestra; and various chamber works including a set of three divertimento-like string quintets, which together with those of Boccherini, antedate Mozart's essays in this form. There has been a considerable revival of interest in Johann Michael Haydn's concerti and symphonies in recent years - the Trumpet Concerto, and the Concerto for Viola and Organ are notable examples, - but the operas have remained more or less unknown. Suites of instrumental extracts are sometimes heard, and there exists an interesting suite of Turkish' music. The instrumental music generally reflects a typically Viennese lyricism and good humour: qualities which sometimes also pervade his choral music, for example, the delightful Christmas pastorella, Lauft, ihr Hirten allzugleich.



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