Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/729

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HAYDN.
717
HAYDN.

those named dedicated to him their first published work—generally a piece of chamber music.

A few remarks on Haydn's personal and mental characteristics, and on his position in the history of art, will conclude our task. We learn from his contemporaries that he was below the middle height, with legs disproportionately short; his build substantial, but deficient in muscle. His features were tolerably regular; his expression, slightly stern in repose, invariably softened in conversation. His aquiline nose was latterly much disfigured by a polypus; and his face deeply pitted by small-pox. His complexion was very dark. His dark gray eyes beamed with benevolence; and he used to say himself, 'Any one can see by the look of me that I am a good-natured sort of fellow.' The impression given by his countenance and bearing was that of an earnest dignified man, perhaps a little over-precise. Though fond of a joke, he never indulged in immoderate laughter. His broad and well-formed forehead was partly concealed by a wig with side curls and a pigtail, which he wore to the end of his days. A prominent and slightly coarse under-lip, with a massive jaw, completed this singular union of so much that was attractive and repelling, intellectual and vulgar.[1] He always considered himself an ugly man, and could not understand how so many handsome women fell in love with him; 'At any rate,' he used to say, 'they were not tempted by my beauty,' though he admitted that he liked looking at a pretty woman, and was never at a loss for a compliment. He habitually spoke in the broad Austrian dialect, but could express himself fluently in Italian, and with some difficulty in French. He studied English when in London, and in the country would often take his grammar into the woods. He was also fond of introducing English phrases into his diary. He knew enough Latin to read Fux's 'Gradus,' and to set the Church services. Though he lived so long in Hungary he never learned the vernacular, which was only used by the servants among themselves, the Esterhazy family always speaking German. His love of fun sometimes carried him away; as he remarked to Dies, 'A mischievous fit comes over one sometimes that is perfectly beyond control.' At the same time he was sensitive, and when provoked by a bad return for his kindness could be very sarcastic. With all his modesty he was aware of his own merits, and liked to be appreciated, but flattery he never permitted. Like a true man of genius he enjoyed honour and fame, but carefully avoided ambition. He has often been reproached with cringing to his superiors, but it should not be forgotten that a man who was in daily intercourse with people of the highest rank would have no difficulty in drawing the line between respect and subservience. That he was quite capable of defending his dignity as an artist is proved by the following occurrence. Prince Nicolaus (the second of the name) being present at a rehearsal, and expressing disapprobation, Haydn at once interposed—'Your Highness, all that is my business.' He was very fond of children, and they in return loved 'Papa Haydn' with all their hearts. He never forgot a benefit, though his kindness to his many needy relations often met with a poor return. The 'chapel' looked up to him as a father, and when occasion arose he was an unwearied intercessor on their behalf with the Prince. Young men of talent found in him a generous friend, always ready to aid them with advice and substantial help. To this fact Eybler, A. Romberg, Seyfried, Weigl, and others have borne ample testimony. His intercourse with Mozart was a striking example of his readiness to acknowledge the merits of others. Throughout life he was distinguished by industry and method; he maintained a strict daily routine, and never sat down to work or received a visit until he was fully dressed. This custom he kept up long after he was too old to leave the house. His uniform, which the Prince was continually changing both in colour and style, he never wore unless actually at his post.

One of his most marked characteristics was his constant aim at perfection in his art. He once said regretfully to Kalkbrenner, 'I have only just learned in my old age how to use the wind-instruments, and now that I do understand them I must leave the world.' And to Griesinger he said that he had by no means come to the end of his powers; that ideas were often floating in his mind, by which he could have carried the art far beyond anything it had yet attained, had his physical powers been equal to the task.

He was a devout Christian, and attended, strictly to his religious duties; but he saw no inconsistency in becoming a Freemason—probably at the instigation of Leopold Mozart, when in Vienna in 1785. His genius he looked on as a gift from above, for which he was bound to be thankful. This feeling dictated the inscriptions on all his scores large and small; 'In nomine Domini,' at the beginning, and 'Laus Deo' at the end; with the occasional addition of 'et

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B. V. Mæ. et oms Sis.' [App. p.670 "Mã et om̃ Stis"] (Beatae Virgini Mariae et omnibus Sanctis). His writing is extremely neat and uniform, with remarkably few corrections: 'Because,' said he, 'I never put anything

  1. Lavater made one of his most characteristic remarks on receiving a sillhouette of Haydn.