200 Years, Anniversary Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

haydnmania: the 2009 anniversary

Archive for December, 2008

gold watch for the composer’s pen: Haydn & Nelson

picture: Lord Nelson before Trafalgar

Precisely how the Nelson Mass became so called, when and by whom shall probably never be known. What is at least clear is that within a month of the Battle of the Nile on august 1, 1798. Haydn had completed a Mass in D Minor, and within months of the Battle of Trafalgar ( october 21, 1805) that same mass had become known as the Nelson Mass.

Amongst his other court duties Haydn was required to produce a new mass each year for the name-day of Princess Esterhazy. Two years previously, in the summer of 1798, Haydn had composed a mass in the key of D minor. He could not have known of the Battle of the Nile until weeks after the mass was finished, so the mass was certainly not written for that Nelson victory. The original manuscript of that mass has neither title nor motto, and bears nothing but the pious formulae ‘In nomine Domini’ at the start and ‘Laus Deo’ at the end.

However, both the Mass in D Minor (probably) and the Te Deum (certainly) were performed to honour Nelson during his visit to Eisenstadt in 1800, together with a brief cantata, Lines from the Battle of the Nile, which Haydn composed for Lady Hamilton. Nelson and Haydn apparently became friends – some accounts tell that Nelson gave Haydn a gold watch he had won at Aboukir Bay, in return for the pen that was used to compose Lady Hamilton’s cantata. It is likely that the name Nelson Mass began being applied to this piece some time after this event, although the name was never used by Haydn himself.

nicknames for Haydn’s Symphonies

There are many notable work among Haydn’s Symphonies, and many have nicknames of which the following is a brief overview:

  • Symphony No.31 – “The Horn Signal”
  • Symphony No.45 – “The Farewell”
  • Symphonies No.82-87 – “The Paris Symphonies” commissioned by a Paris publishing house
  • Symphony No.82 – “The Bear” from the folk dance style of the last movement
  • Symphony No.83 – “The Hen” has a clucking theme in the first movement
  • Symphony No.85 – “The Queens” since it was enjoyed by Marie Antoinette
  • Symphony No.88 – this has no nickname but is an absolute delight, a perfect gem
  • Symphony No.92 – “The Oxford” for Oxford University
  • Symphonies No.93-104 – “The London Symphonies” composed in groups during Haydn’s visits to the city
  • Symphony No.94 – “The Surpise” is one of the best-known of Haydn’s symphonies and named for the surprisingly loud chord in the slow movement
  • Symphony No.100 – “The Military” features drums and other percussion
  • Symphony No.101 – “The Clock” for it’s ticking sound
  • Symphony No.103 – “The Drum Roll”
  • Symphony No.104 – “The London”

J.H.- “…the secret of my success…”

Franz Joseph Haydn, the ‘father of the symphony’ and creator of the modern string quartet, spent most of his prolific creative life in isolation, away from the glamour of Vienna.

However, far from becoming simply another anonymous court composer stuck in provincial obscurity, Haydn established an international reputation for his symphonies, the sheer size alone of his output intimidating subsequent generations. He wrote 107 symphonies in total, as well as 83 string quartets, 45 piano trios, 62 piano sonatas, 14 masses and 26 operas, amongst countless other scores. In deed, the fact that he avoided the bright lights of Vienna was, the composer himself suggested, the secret of his success: “I was cut off from the world. There was no one near to torment me or make me doubt myself, and so I had to become original.”

“First Viennese School”: the 3 G’s

The three great classical composers, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, are commonly referred to as the First Viennese School. They never really worked together as a group, though especially Mozart and Haydn knew each other well, and have most certainly influenced each other. For example, Mozart dedicated some string quartets to Haydn, because he valued Haydn’s string quartets so much.

The 6 string quartets (“the Haydn-Quartetts”) Mozart dedicated to Haydn (composed between 1782 – 1785), influenced by Haydn’s “russian quartets”:
string quartet G-Dur KV 387 (1782) – 1st Haydn-Quartet
string quartet d-moll KV 421 (1783) – 2nd Haydn-Quartet
string quartet Es-dur KV 428 (1783) – 3rd Haydn-Quartet
string quartet “Jagd-Quartett” (=”hunting quartet”) B-dur KV 458 (1783) – 4th Haydn-Quartet
string quartet A-dur KV 464 (1785) – 5th Haydn-Quartet
string quartet C- Dur “Dissonanzen-Quartett” KV 465 (1783) – 6th Haydn-Quartet

In general they valued each other very much as composers, and as persons. For Beethoven, who was the “youngest” of the three, the other two were his big examples.

important events in the life of J.H.

 Haydn-patch", 2008, polimer colours on poliethylene master batch - by Andreas Roseneder

Haydn-patch", 2008, polimer colours on poliethylene master batch - © Andreas Roseneder

(more about the art of Andreas Roseneder on his website)

11 January 1763: Premiere of Acide, in Eisenstadt, Austria.

16 September 1770: Premiere of Le Pescatrici, in Eszterháza, Hungary.
28 August 1775: Premiere of L’Incontro Improvviso, in Eszterháza, Hungary.
11 March 1791: Premiere of Symphony in D major Hob. I:96 “The Miracle”, in London, England.
7 July 1791: Premiere of Symphony in G major Hob. I:92 “Oxford”, in Oxford, England.
9 March 1792: Premiere of Symphony in B flat major Hob. I:105 “Concertante”, in London, England.
23 March 1792: Premiere of Symphony in G major Hob. I:94 “Surprise”, in London, England, with Haydn conducting.
31 March 1794: Premiere of Symphony in G major Hob. I:100 “Military”, in London, England, with Haydn conducting.
2 February 1795: Premiere of Symphony in B flat major Hob. I:102, in London, with Haydn conducting.
2 March 1795: Premiere of Symphony in E flat major, Hob I:103 “Drum roll”, in London, England.
4 May 1795: Premiere of symphony in D major Hob. I:104, in London, England.
29 April 1798: Premiere of Die Schöpfung (The Creation), in Vienna, Austria.
24 April 1801: Premiere of Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons), in Vienna, Austria.
2 November 1873:
Premiere of Brahms’ Haydn Variations op. 56a, in Vienna, Austria, with Brahms conducting