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Joseph Haydn

Updated November 1, 2018

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.. rote specially for the occasion. In 1764 Prince Nicholas wanted to build a new palace, with extravagant gardens much like those of the Palace of Versailles. The construction immediately went underway and in 1768 after completion of the Music House, Haydn and the musicians moved in. Once everything was settled, Haydn became very busy.

He composed theater works for puppet plays, the operas La Cantarina and Lo Speziale, as well as five or six symphonies a year. Between 1761 and 1765, Haydn had written over twenty symphonies. By that time, the orchestra Haydn was in charge of had been expanded to twenty-two players, all of whom had much consideration and respect for Haydn. Out of this respect came the nickname Papa, for the fatherly care that he gave them.

However, it seemed as though Haydn was forever stricken with bad luck. Nearly every minute of the day on some days he spent composing music, whether it be for a special visitor or for a big event. So naturally there were hundreds of works and ideas stored at the palace. In 1776 most of Haydn’s manuscripts were destroyed by a fire, which had happened once before in 1771. The fire was at the musical theater in Esterhaza, therefore a new and more extravagant theater was built in it’s place.

It was the host of many shows per week and Haydn found himself conducting operas three to five times per week. This caused him fame to increase greatly, which was wonderful for him financially. he was getting requests from all over France and England, as well as in Italy and sometimes Germany. His symphonies were beginning to be published and his name was know all over Europe.

In 1782 Haydn wrote the opera, Orlando Paladino, which was one of the most famous works during his lifetime. Over a two year span, the opera was performed over thirty times in Esterhaza and later in Germany and Austria over forty times. In 1783 Haydn finished the last two pieces he would write for Esterhaza, as well as the opera which Haydn personally considered his best, Armida. It was also around that time that Haydn and Mozart became closer friends. Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met in 1781 while at a concert of the famed Johann Sebastian Bach.

They instantly liked each other, despite the fact that the two men were quite different in backgrounds and beliefs. Haydn could confide in Mozart, and Mozart in turn could call upon Haydn for honest opinions and good advice. Both men regarded each other very highly. Haydn said in a letter to Mozart’s father, Friends tell me I am brilliant, but he [Mozart] stood far above me.

When Mozart died on December 5, 1791, Haydn was in London and did not believe the news. It upset him greatly and years later if Mozart’s name was mentioned, he would still break down in tears. Music in London was at it’s best while Haydn was staying there, and the English loved him. He was always welcomed with ceremonies and always paid well. During his stay there he was able to do many wonderful things and meet many wonderful people.

However, in the summer of 1792 Haydn felt it was time to return to Austria. On his way back, he stayed in Bonn, Germany, where he met Ludwig van Beethoven. Haydn was impressed by Beethoven and offered to give him lessons in composition. The two were very different, however, and often had trouble getting along.

On the professional level, they respected each other, but a friendship like that of Haydn and Mozart was out of the question. From this time period, there are two pieces that come to mind when one thinks of Haydn. The first is The Creation and the second is The Seasons. The Creation was inspired by Handel’s Messiah, which Haydn had heard while in the Westminster Abbey in 1791. Composition began in 1796 and was completed in 1798. This oratorio was Haydn’s first completed sacred work with a German text, and Haydn said it make him feel closer to God while writing it.

On April 19, 1798, in the Schwarzenberg Palace in Vienna, The Creation was performed for the first of many times. The public felt it was Haydn’s greatest work, and he was paid a great deal of money for the writing and performing of it. The second major composition was The Seasons. While it did not have near the success of the Creation, it was still quite profitable. Haydn, however, was exhausted and in 1805 he said, Die Jahreszeiten did not bring me luck. I should not have composed it.

It finished me. That was when he decided to make his will. The last years of his life were just as busy as the rest. Although Haydn was weak and ill, he still had many important admirers come each day, such as fellow musicians Abbe Vogler, the Weber family, and Mozart’s widow, Constanze Weber.

He was also honored with many medals, precious gifts, and countless certificates. They all represented the joy and success of his life and meant a great deal to Haydn. Physically Haydn was not able to compose anymore, however, songs still ran through his head, often causing terrible headaches and prolonged spells of dizziness. Haydn said, The musical inventions chase and torture me. I cannot escape them, they stand for me like walls.

If an Allegro chases me, my heartbeat becomes very quick, I cannot sleep. If it is an Adagio, my heartbeat becomes slow. My fantasy plays me like a piano. Haydn’s last triumph was the performance of Die Schopfing on March 27, 1808 at the Vienna University. The performance was held to celebrate Haydn’s seventy-sixth birthday.

Although he was weak, Haydn and his doctor went to the concert together. Crowds had gathered for him, Price Esterhazy personally escorted him inside, and ever important musician of that time, such as Beethoven, Hummel, and Salieri, was there. Haydn was ill and left at intermission, and from that time on he was confined to his home from ill-health and disability. However, his home was not a peaceful place to rest. In early may, Napoleon’s troops entered Vienna, and as a result, Haydn suffered from the twenty-four hour a day bombardment.

Napoleon was compassionate and put a guard in from of Haydn’s home, in an attempt stop the dying man from being bothered. On May 31, 1809, Haydn went into a coma and died. In his Will, no one was forgotten — old friends, acquaintances, people who had done him favors in his youth, and those who had been kind to him in his old age. The conclusion of the Will stated, I commend my soul to my all- merciful Creator.

As you can see, Haydn was a very religious man. From 1809 to 1820, Haydn’s body was buried at the Hundsthurmer Cemetary in Vienna. Some time after the burial, a student at the University of Vienna got permission to study Haydn’s skull. It was removed and the body was then moved to Eisenstadt at the request of Prince Esterhazy.

Today, Haydn’s body, including the skull, is in a mausoleum built by Dr. Paul Esterhazy in 1954. Haydn was a kindhearted, good-natured man who was respected by all. His contribution to the history of music is practically endless – from symphonies and quartets, to paving the way for the future composers, like Mozart and Beethoven. He had a style all his own, and for that he will always be remembered.

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