Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/724

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1794. Prince Anton took a reluctant leave of him, and died three days after he left. This time Haydn went down the Rhine, accompanied by his faithful copyist and servant, Johann Elssler[1] and arrived in London on Feb. 4. He took lodgings at No. 1 Bury Street, St. James's, probably to be near Mrs. Schroeter, who lived in James Street, Buckingham Gate. Nothing is known of their relations at this time; Elssler could have given information on this and many other points, but unlike Handel's Smith he was a mere copyist, and none of Haydn's biographers seem to have thought of applying to him for particulars about his master, though he lived till 1843.—Haydn's engagement with Salomon bound him to compose and conduct six fresh symphonies; and besides these, the former set, including the 'Surprise,' was repeated. Some new quartets are also mentioned, and a quintet in C (known as op. 88), which however was his brother Michael's. The first concert was on Feb. 10, and the last on May 12. At one of the rehearsals Haydn surprised the orchestra by showing young Smart (afterwards Sir George) the proper way to play the drums. At Haydn's benefit (May 2) the 'Military' Symphony was produced for the first time, and Dussek and Viotti played concertos. The latter was also leader at Salomon's benefit—a proof of the good understanding between the two violinists.

During his second visit Haydn had ample opportunities of becoming acquainted with Handel's music. Regular performances of his oratorios took place in Lent both at Covent Garden and Drury Lane; and in 1795 concerts of sacred music, interspersed with some of Haydn's symphonies, were given at the King's Theatre. Haydn also conducted performances of his symphonies at the New Musical Fund concerts. Among his new acquaintances we find Dragonetti, who had accompanied Banti to London in 1794, and a lasting friendship sprang up between Haydn and that good-natured artist. For Banti Haydn composed an air 'Non partir,' in E (the recitative begins, 'Berenice'), which she sang at his benefit.

Among the numerous violinists then in London—Jarnowick, Janiewicz, Cramer, Viotti, Clement, Bridgetower, etc.—we must not omit Giardini. Though nearly 80 years of age he produced an oratorio, 'Ruth,' at Ranelagh, and even played a concerto. His temper was frightful, and he showed a particular spite against Haydn, even remarking within his hearing, when urged to call upon him, 'I don't want to see the German dog.' Haydn retorted by writing in his diary, after hearing him play, 'Giardini played like a pig.' After the exertions of the season Haydn sought refreshment in the country, first staying at Sir Charles Rich's house near Waverley Abbey, in Surrey. In September he went with Dr. Burney to see Rauzzini at Bath, where he passed three pleasant days, and wrote a canon to the inscription which Rauzzini had put on a monument in his garden to 'his best friend'—'Turk was a faithful dog, and not a man.' He also went to Taplow with Shield, and with Lord Abingdon visited Lord Aston at Preston. An anecdote of this tune shows the humour which was so native to Haydn, and so often pervades his compositions. He composed an apparently easy sonata for pianoforte and violin, called it 'Jacob's Dream,' and sent it anonymously to an amateur who professed himself addicted to the extreme upper notes of the violin. The unfortunate performer was delighted with the opening; here was a composer who thoroughly understood the instrument! but as he found himself compelled to mount the ladder higher and higher without any chance of coming down again, the perspiration burst out upon his forehead, and he exclaimed, 'What sort of composition do you call this? the man knows nothing whatever of the violin.'

In 1795 Salomon announced his concerts under a new name and place, the 'National School of Music,' in the King's Concert-room, recently added to the King's Theatre. Haydn was again engaged as composer and conductor of his own symphonies, and Salomon had collected an unprecedented assemblage of talent. The music was chiefly operatic, but one or even two of Haydn's symphonies were given regularly, the 'Surprise' being a special favourite. With regard to this symphony Haydn confessed to Gyrowetz, who happened to call when he was composing the Andante, that he intended to startle the audience. 'There all the women will scream,' he said with a laugh, pointing to the well-known explosion of the drums. The first concert was on Feb. 2, and two extra ones were given on May 21 and June 1, the latter being Haydn's last appearance before an English audience.[2] His last benefit was on May 4, when the programme consisted entirely of his works, except the concertos of Viotti and of Ferlendis the oboist. Banti sang his aria for the first time, but according to his diary 'she sang very scanty.' He was greatly pleased with the success

  1. This name is closely associated with that of Haydn from 1766, the date of Joseph Elssler's marriage at Eisenstadt, at which Haydn assisted. Joseph was a native of Silesia, and music copyist to Prince Esterhazy. His children mere taken into the 'chapel' on Haydn's recommendation, and the second son, Johannes (born at Eisenstadt 1769), lived the whole of his life with him, first as copyist and then as general servant and factotum. He accompanied Haydn on his second journey to London, and tended him in his last years with the greatest care. Despite the proverb that 'no man is a hero to his valet,' Haydn was to Elssler a constant subject of veneration, which he carried so far that when he thought himself unobserved he would stop with the censer before his master's portrait, as if it were the altar.

    Elssler copied a large amount of Haydn's music, partly in score, partly in separate parts, much of which is now treasured as the autograph of Haydn, though the handwriting of the two are essentially different. He survived his master 34 years and died at Vienna June 12, 1843, in the enjoyment of 6000 florins which Haydn bequeathed to him as a 'true and honest servant.' His elder brother Joseph, oboe at Esterhaz, died at Vienna, also in 1843. Johann married Therese Prinster, whose brothers Anton and Michael were horn-players, and the pride of the Esterhazy orchestra. From this union came (1) Johann, born 1802, died (as chorus-master at the Berlin Theatre Royal) 1872; (2) Therese, born April 5, 1808, and (3) Franziska, born June 23, 1810—all natives of Vienna. Both daughters were danseuses. Therese was made Frau von Barnim by the King of Prussia, married Prince Adalbert, and died at Heran, Nov. 20,1878; while Franziska, better known as Fanny Elssler, was one of the greatest dancers of her time. She is still living in complete seclusion at Vienna (1879).

  2. Till 1799, when the undertaking failed, Salomon continued to perform Haydn's symphonies, with his permission, at these open concerts.