Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/726

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714
HAYDN
HAYDN.

tragedy adapted from the English of Cowmeadow, and performed once in 1795 at Schickaneder's Theatre in [1]Vienna; a fine chorus in the old Italian style, 'Non nobis [2] Domine,' perhaps suggested by Byrd's canon which he heard so often in London; a grand 'Te [3] Deum,' composed 1800; and the 'Seven Words,' rewritten for voices, and first performed at Eisenstadt, Oct. 1797. Instrumental music—Clavier-trios, Breitkopf & Härtel, Nos. 18, 19, 20, dedicated to Princess Marie Esterhazy; 1, 2, 6, to Mrs. Schroeter; 3, 4[4], 5, to Bartolozzi; 12, 15[5] to Mlle. Madelaine de Kurzbeck: when requested by Prince Esterhazy in 1803 to compose a sonata for the wife of Maréchal Moreau, Haydn arranged this trio as a duet for clavier and violin; and in that form it was published years after as his 'dernière Sonate.' Clavier sonata (Breitk. & Härtel, No. 1 ), dedicated to Mlle. Kurzbeck; 6 string-quartets, known as op. 75 and 76, dedicated to Count Erdödy; and 2 ditto, op. 77, dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz.

During his visits Haydn had often envied the English their 'God save the King,' and the war with France having quickened his desire to provide the people with an adequate expression of their fidelity to the throne, he determined to compose a national anthem for Austria. Hence arose 'Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser,' the most popular of all his Lieder. Haydn's friend, Freiherr van Swieten, suggested the idea to the Prime Minister, Graf von Saurau, and the poet Hauschka was commissioned to write the words, which Haydn set in January 1797. On the Emperor's birthday, Feb. 12, the air was sung simultaneously at the national theatre in Vienna, and at all the principal theatres in the provinces. [See {{sc|Emperor's Hymn.] This strain, almost sublime in its simplicity, and so devotional in its character that it is used as a hymn-tune, faithfully reflects Haydn's feelings towards his sovereign. It was his favourite work, and towards the close of his life he often consoled himself by playing it with great expression. He also introduced a set of masterly variations on it into the so-called 'Kaiserquartett ' (No. 77).

High as his reputation already was, it had not reached its culminating point. This was attained by two works of his old age, the 'Creation' and the 'Seasons.' Shortly before his departure from London, Salomon offered him a poem for music, which had been compiled by Lidley from Milton's 'Paradise Lost' before the death of Handel, but not used. Haydn took it to Vienna, and when Freiherr van Swieten suggested his composing an oratorio, he handed him the poem. Van Swieten translated it with considerable alterations, and a sum of 500 ducats was guaranteed by twelve of the principal nobility. Haydn set to work with the greatest ardour. 'Never was I so pious,' he says, 'as when composing the Creation. I knelt down every day and prayed God to strengthen me for my work.' It was first given in private at the Schwarzenberg palace, on the 29th and 30th of April, 1798; and in public on Haydn's name-day, March 19, 1799, at the National Theatre. The noblemen previously mentioned paid the expenses, and handed over to Haydn the entire proceeds, amounting to 4,000 florins (£320). The impression it produced was extraordinary; the whole audience was deeply moved, and Haydn confessed that he could not describe his sensations. 'One moment,' he said, 'I was as cold as ice, the next I seemed on fire. More than once I was afraid I should have a stroke.' The next performance was given by the Tonkünstler Societät, Haydn conducting. Once only he conducted it outside Vienna—March 9, 1800, at a grand performance in the palace at Ofen before the Archduke Palatine Joseph of Hungary. No sooner was the score engraved (1800), than the 'Creation' was performed everywhere. Choral societies were founded for the express purpose, and its popularity was for long equalled only by that of the 'Messiah.' In London Ashley and Salomon gave rival performances, the former on March 28, 1800, at Covent Garden, the latter on April 21, in the concert-room of the King's Theatre, with Mara and Dussek in the principal parts, and a concerto on the organ by Samuel Wesley. In the English provinces it was first performed by the Three Choirs—at Worcester in 1800, Hereford in 1801, and Gloucester in 1802.—In 1799 Haydn entered into relations with Breitkopf & Härtel, and edited the 12 vols. in red covers which formed for long the only collection of his works for clavier and for voice.

As soon as the 'Creation' was finished, Van Swieten persuaded Haydn to begin another oratorio, which he had adapted from Thomson's Seasons. He consented to the proposition with reluctance, on the ground that his powers were failing; but he began, and in spite of his objections to certain passages as unsuited to music (a point over which he and Van Swieten nearly quarrelled), the work as a whole interested him much, and was speedily completed. The first performances took place April 24 and 27, and May 1, at the Schwarzenberg palace. On May 29 he conducted it for his own benefit in the large Redoutensaal, and in December handed over the score, as he had that of the 'Creation,' to the Tonkünstler Societät, which has derived a permanent income from both works. Opinions are now divided as to the respective value of the two, but at the time the success of the 'Seasons' fully equalled that of the 'Creation,' and even now the youthful freshness which characterises it is very striking. The strain however was too great; as he often said afterwards, 'The Seasons gave me the finishing stroke.' On Dec. 26, 1803, he conducted the 'Seven Words' for the hospital fund at the Redoutensaal, but it was his last public exertion. In the following year he was asked to conduct the 'Creation'

  1. The music was re-composed in 1796 but never used, and the 'Chor der Däuen,' for men's voices, is the only number published (Breitkopf, 1810).
  2. Score and parts in Rieter-Biedermann's new edition.
  3. First published in score by Breitkopf & Härtel.
  4. See Mendelssohn's letter to Rebecca Dirichlet (Feb. 1838). 'First we played Haydn's trio in C, and set everybody wondering that anything so fine was In existence; and yet Breitkopf & Härtel printed it long ago!'
  5. First published by Traeg.