Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

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0120180312

Donald Macleod explores a hugely successful episode in Haydn's life, his London years. Today, summoned by musician and impresario Johann Peter Salomon, Haydn takes London by storm.

"It really is sad always to be a slave," Haydn wrote in a letter of 27 June 1790 to his friend Maria Anna von Genzinger, "but Providence wills it so." Well apparently not. Just three months later, Haydn's employer Prince Nikolaus Esterházy died after a brief illness, his entire musical establishment was disbanded, and the composer's 'slavery' as Kapellmeister at the Esterházy court came to a sudden and unexpected end. Cue the London-based violinist, composer and impresario Johann Peter Salomon, who was in Cologne when he heard the news of Haydn's emancipation. Salomon seized his opportunity and hot-footed it to Vienna, where he turned up unannounced one evening at Haydn's rented apartment. Salomon made Haydn an offer he didn't want to refuse and was now in a position to accept, and a week later the two men were en route to London, where Haydn was to be the star attraction of a 12-week season of concerts at the fashionable Hanover Square Rooms. Haydn's music had already won him a considerable reputation in England, and now he was to cement and enhance it with a truly extraordinary sequence of new works composed in and for London - sonatas, trios, quartets, symphonies and more - that showed a composer at the height of his powers propelled even higher by new challenges and fresh stimuli. Amidst all this success, there was one rather spectacular failure - though the failure wasn't Haydn's. Much of his energy during his first year in London was expended on composing L'anima del filoso - The philosopher's soul - an opera on the Orpheus myth commissioned for the King's Theatre, Haymarket. Unfortunately, the manager there, John Gallini, had failed to procure a licence to stage opera, and the production had to be aborted during the first rehearsal. Not that that will have unduly bothered most of Haydn's London audience, who for the moment at least had plenty of his music to keep them occupied. In the hope that they could continue to be occupied with Haydn's music for a long time to come, there were those who proposed that he should stay here indefinitely - among them King George and Queen Charlotte, who pressed Haydn to take up permanent residence in this country. That was not to be, but buoyed by the success of his first London season, he was certainly happy to stay for a second - which is the subject of tomorrow's episode.

Divertimento in C, Hob II:32; 3rd mvt, Finale. Molto vivace.
Haydn Sinfonietta Wien
Manfred Huss, conductor--

L'anima del filosofo; Act 2 scene 3 - 'Al tuo seno fortunato'
Sylvia Greenberg, soprano (Genio)
Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra
Leopold Hager, conductor

The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross, Hob XX:1; Sonata II, Grave e cantabile
Le Concert des Nations
Jordi Savall, conductor

String Quartet in D, Op 64 No 5 (Hob III:63) ('The Lark'); 1st mvt, Allegro moderato
Quatuor Mosaïques

Symphony No 96 in D, Hob I: 96 ('Miracle')
The Academy of Ancient Music
Christopher Hogwood, conductor.

0120180312

Donald Macleod explores a hugely successful episode in Haydn's life, his London years. Today, summoned by musician and impresario Johann Peter Salomon, Haydn takes London by storm.

"It really is sad always to be a slave," Haydn wrote in a letter of 27 June 1790 to his friend Maria Anna von Genzinger, "but Providence wills it so." Well apparently not. Just three months later, Haydn's employer Prince Nikolaus Esterházy died after a brief illness, his entire musical establishment was disbanded, and the composer's 'slavery' as Kapellmeister at the Esterházy court came to a sudden and unexpected end. Cue the London-based violinist, composer and impresario Johann Peter Salomon, who was in Cologne when he heard the news of Haydn's emancipation. Salomon seized his opportunity and hot-footed it to Vienna, where he turned up unannounced one evening at Haydn's rented apartment. Salomon made Haydn an offer he didn't want to refuse and was now in a position to accept, and a week later the two men were en route to London, where Haydn was to be the star attraction of a 12-week season of concerts at the fashionable Hanover Square Rooms. Haydn's music had already won him a considerable reputation in England, and now he was to cement and enhance it with a truly extraordinary sequence of new works composed in and for London - sonatas, trios, quartets, symphonies and more - that showed a composer at the height of his powers propelled even higher by new challenges and fresh stimuli. Amidst all this success, there was one rather spectacular failure - though the failure wasn't Haydn's. Much of his energy during his first year in London was expended on composing L'anima del filosofo - The philosopher's soul - an opera on the Orpheus myth commissioned for the King's Theatre, Haymarket. Unfortunately, the manager there, John Gallini, had failed to procure a licence to stage opera, and the production had to be aborted during the first rehearsal. Not that that will have unduly bothered most of Haydn's London audience, who for the moment at least had plenty of his music to keep them occupied. In the hope that they could continue to be occupied with Haydn's music for a long time to come, there were those who proposed that he should stay here indefinitely - among them King George and Queen Charlotte, who pressed Haydn to take up permanent residence in this country. That was not to be, but buoyed by the success of his first London season, he was certainly happy to stay for a second - which is the subject of tomorrow's episode.

Divertimento in C, Hob II:32; 3rd mvt, Finale. Molto vivace.
Haydn Sinfonietta Wien
Manfred Huss, conductor--

L'anima del filosofo; Act 2 scene 3 - 'Al tuo seno fortunato'
Sylvia Greenberg, soprano (Genio)
Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra
Leopold Hager, conductor

The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross, Hob XX:1; Sonata II, Grave e cantabile
Le Concert des Nations
Jordi Savall, conductor

String Quartet in D, Op 64 No 5 (Hob III:63) ('The Lark'); 1st mvt, Allegro moderato
Quatuor Mosaïques

Symphony No 96 in D, Hob I: 96 ('Miracle')
The Academy of Ancient Music
Christopher Hogwood, conductor.

0220180313

Donald Macleod explores a hugely successful episode in Haydn's life, his London years. Today, romance, rivalry and the death of a friend as Haydn embarks on a second London season.

In January 1792, news reached Haydn that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had died in Vienna the previous month, a few weeks short of his 36th birthday. Haydn was devastated: "For some time I was beside myself about his death and I could not believe that Providence would so soon claim the life of such an indispensable man." Some musicologists believe that Haydn wrote the slow movement of his Symphony No 98 in memory of his old friend. Meanwhile, another young composer had arrived in London - as it happens, a former student of Haydn's who had come at the behest of The Professional Concert, a rival concert organization to that of Johann Peter Salomon, the violinist, composer and impresario who had invited Haydn to London for the previous season. That season had been such a success that The Professional Concert had made strenuous efforts to poach Haydn for their own concert series. When they failed to snare the master, they turned to the pupil: Ignaz Pleyel, who nowadays is remembered less as a composer than as the publisher and piano manufacturer he would later become. Pleyel agreed to produce a new work for each of the 12 concerts in the series. Haydn felt honour-bound to do the same, but he found the workload utterly draining: "My eyes suffer the most, and I have many sleepless nights", he wrote to a friend. His Sinfonia Concertante for oboe, bassoon, violin, cello and orchestra, premiered in the fourth concert of the season, seems to have been a direct response to a piece of Pleyel's for similar forces that had been unveiled by The Professional Concert only the previous week. At this stressful time, some measure of solace was at hand in the attractive form of Rebecca Schroeter, a wealthy Scottish widow who had originally approached Haydn for music lessons but soon became an intimate companion. Haydn made hand-copies of her letters to him, many of which deal with practicalities such as requests for concert tickets and invitations to dinner. But every now and then we get a glimpse of the passion smouldering beneath the surface: "My Dearest I cannot be happy till I see you, if you know, do tell me when you will come." Mrs Schroeter was doubtless present at the concert held a week before Haydn's 60th birthday, which saw the première of his now-famous 'Surprise' Symphony - the surprise being a mischievously unexpected fortissimo chord right at the end of the second movement's otherwise tranquil opening theme. Unsurprisingly, this proved a big hit with the London audience, and turned out to be one of the greatest successes of Haydn's English career.

Symphony No 94 in G, Hob I:94 ('Surprise'); 2nd mvt, Andante (extract)
Philharmonia Orchestra
Tom Bergman, conductor

Sinfonia Concertante in B flat, Hob I:105; 1st mvt, Allegro
Ku Ebbinge, oboe
Danny Bond, bassoon
Lucy van Dael, violin
Wouter Möller, cello
Orchestra of the 18th Century
Frans Brüggen, conductor

Symphony No 98 in B flat, Hob I:98; 2nd mvt, Adagio
Les Musiciens du Louvre
Marc Minkowski, conductor

The Storm, Hob XXIVa:8
North German Radio Chorus
Göttingen Festival Orchestra
Nicholas McGegan, conductor

Symphony No 94 in G, Hob I:94 ('Surprise')
Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Roger Norrington, conductor.

0320180314

Donald Macleod explores a hugely successful episode in Haydn's life, his London years. Today, Haydn appears in no hurry to return to London as he settles back into Viennese life.

Haydn's extended stay in London through 1791 to the summer of the following year had been made possible by the death of his employer, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy. Esterházy's son, Prince Anton, lost no time in dismantling the elaborate and costly musical establishment his father had spent the previous two-and-a-half decades assembling, leaving Haydn - almost - fancy-free. 'Almost' because as a condition of receiving his pension, Haydn remained, at least nominally, the Eszterháza Kapellmeister. So when Prince Anton yanked at the leash, requiring his Kapellmeister's presence at the coronation of Francis II as Holy Roman Emperor in Frankfurt in July 1792, Haydn had no option but to pack his bags and go. Thereafter, the plan seems to have been that he would head back to Vienna, perhaps spending a little time at Eszterháza before returning to London for the 1793 season. This certainly seems to have been the assumption of the London impresario, Johann Peter Salomon, who began advertising his third annual series of Haydn-centric concerts at the Hanover Square Rooms from December 1792. When January came and his star failed to appear, Salomon made his apologies, claiming the composer was so seriously indisposed by a troublesome nasal polyp that surgery would be required. Whatever the source of this face-saving fiction, the truth is probably that Haydn was finding plenty to occupy himself with on his home turf; and in any case, from the 21st of January 1793, travel became much riskier in the febrile atmosphere following the execution of Louis XVI. One of the tasks on Haydn's current agenda was the tuition of a promising new student by the name of Ludwig van Beethoven, whom he took with him to Eszterháza. He also had ample time to compose, blissfully free from the relentless pressure of his previous London season, for which he had had to produce a new work for every concert. So when he eventually set off for London again in the middle of January 1794, traversing war-torn Europe in one of the coldest winters in living memory, he at least had the warm glow of knowing that accompanying him in his trunk were the manuscripts of six brand new string quartets - Opuses 71 and 74 - and what would become one of his best-loved symphonies, No 99 in E flat.

12 Menuetti di ballo, Hob IX:11; No 5 in C
Ronald Brautigam, fortepiano

String Quartet in C, Op 74 No 1 (Hob III:72)
Takács Quartet

Symphony No 99 in E flat, Hob I:99
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor.

0420180315

Donald Macleod explores a hugely successful episode in Haydn's life, his London years. Today, back in London for a third season, Haydn scores the biggest success of his career.

In early February 1794, after an absence of more than 18 months, and a whole year later than he had originally undertaken to return, Haydn finally made it back to the English capital. He may have lingered longer than he had intended to in Vienna, but he certainly hadn't been malingering, and he took with him the fruits of his labours - the scores of six string quartets and a symphony. It was this symphony - No 99 - that he chose to reacquaint London audiences with his music in the first concert of the new series, and to judge by the review in the following day's Morning Chronicle, it was an excellent choice: "The incomparable Haydn produced an Overture of which it is impossible to speak in common terms. It is one of the grandest efforts of art that we ever witnessed. It abounds with ideas, as new in music as they are grand and impressive; it rouses and affects every emotion of the soul. It was received with rapturous applause." But there were still greater raptures to come. In the eighth concert of the season, Haydn unleashed his 'Grand Overture with the Militaire Movement' - what we know today as his 'Military' Symphony. The 'military' element was supplied by the fashionable 'Turkish' percussion - triangle, cymbals and bass drum - that Haydn employed to rousing effect in the Allegretto second movement and also the Finale. Europe was in the throes of the Napoleonic Wars, and Haydn's new symphony tapped directly into a heady vein of contemporary popular sentiment. At the other end of the scale, it was during this period that he produced his final three keyboard sonatas, for a prodigiously talented amateur by the name of Therese Jansen, a pupil of the celebrated Italian virtuoso Muzio Clementi. Haydn's powerful, big-boned keyboard writing in these sonatas reflects the character of the instruments he had encountered in London - mechanically superior to and more robustly constructed than the relatively weak little square pianos popular in Vienna at the time. From here, it's a short step to the early sonatas of Beethoven - the first set of which he dedicated to his teacher, Haydn.

Trio No 1 in C for 2 flutes and cello, Hob IV:1; 3rd mvt, Finale - vivace
The Kuijken Ensemble

6 Original Canzonettas, Hob XXVIa:30; No 6, 'Fidelity'
Julie Kaufmann, soprano
Donald Sulzen, piano

Symphony No 100 in G, Hob I:100 ('Military')
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Colin Davis, conductor
PHILIPS 442 614-2 CD 1 tks 9-12

Piano Sonata in E flat, Hob XVI:52
Ekaterina Derzhavina, piano.

0520180316

Donald Macleod explores a hugely successful episode in Haydn's life, his London years. Today, Haydn's fourth London season brings forth his last - and perhaps greatest - symphony.

At the final concert of Haydn's third London season on the 12th of May 1794, it was announced to the audience in the Hanover Square Rooms - presumably to general jubilation - that the world's greatest living composer had agreed to stay on in town for another year. Perhaps at this point he was even considering remaining in England for good. His employer, Prince Anton Esterházy, had died a few months earlier, and there was little reason for him to return to Vienna - least of all his unhappy marriage to a woman Haydn, by all accounts one of the mildest-mannered of men, had once dubbed a "bestia infernale". The following month, however, he received a letter from Anton's son Nicolaus - now Prince Nicolaus - informing him of his intention to restore his grandfather's musical establishment and re-appoint Haydn as Kapellmeister. Now into his 60s, Haydn was doubtless pondering the question of where he might be most comfortable in his old age, and the answer now seemed clear: his native country. Accordingly, his next London season would be his last. It wouldn't be quite like the previous ones, though. Because of the continuing war on the Continent, the violinist, composer and impresario Johann Peter Salomon, who had invited Haydn to London in the first place and organised the previous three concert seasons, found it "impossible to procure from abroad any Vocal Performers of the first talents", as he explained in a lengthy press advertisement addressed to the "Nobility and Gentry" who had supported his efforts to date. Instead, Salomon did a deal with the London Opera, the upshot of which was a jointly organised season of nine Opera Concerts at the King's Theatre on Haymarket. If time-travel were possible, you'd want to be transported back for the premières of Haydn's last three symphonies, on the 2nd of February, 2nd of March and 4th of May - the latter, not one of the nine Opera Concerts but Haydn's final Benefit Concert, in which his Symphony No 104, which has acquired the nickname 'London', was heard for the very first time. According to the critic of the Morning Chronicle, Haydn had "rewarded the good intentions of his friends by writing a new Overture which for fullness, richness, and majesty, in all its parts, is thought by some of the best judges to surpass all his other compositions." We know from his notebook that Haydn was happy too: "On 4th May 1795, I gave my benefit concert in the Haymarket Theatre. The whole company was thoroughly pleased and so was I. I made four thousand Gulden on this evening. Such a thing is only possible in England."

'O'er the moor amang the heather', Hob XXXIa:122
Jamie MacDougall, tenor
Haydn Trio Eisenstadt

Piano Trio in F sharp minor, Hob XV:26
The Florestan Trio

Symphony No 104 in D, Hob I:104 ('London')
Les Musiciens du Louvre
Marc Minkowski, conductor

'O tuneful voice', Hob XXVIa:42
Elly Ameling, soprano
Jörg Demus, piano.