200 Years, Anniversary Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

haydnmania: the 2009 anniversary

Archive for anecdotes

Il mondo della luna – premiere

picture: ©Theater an der Wien

Have you ever flown to the moon thanks to nothing more than the power of your own imagination? In the summer of 1777, Joseph Haydn sent the guests at the prince’s wedding in Esterházy Palace into the fantastic universe with the aid of their imagination, some 190 years before the first moon landing. For “Il mondo della luna” he turned to a source that had already been successfully used for a number of operas and was written originally by the Italian comic poet Carlo Goldoni. Haydn created a work focusing on human longings, the fabled moon and a world turned on its head.

Ecclitico is in pursuit of Clarice while Ernesto loves her sister Flaminia. But Buonafede, the father of the two young ladies and an amateur astronomer, is strictly opposed to these matches. He is also suspicious of the growing affection his servant Cecco is showing towards the maid Lisetta, especially since he has his own designs on her. But the young lovers refuse to give in to pressure. They trick the moonstruck Buonafede into believing he has been transported to the moon. A journey of discovery into outer space and the joys of love merge in the family garden into an increasingly manic muddle. The result: a bull’s eye! At the end a triple wedding is in the offing!

In Haydn’s musical evocation of the surface of the moon, there are fragrant flowers and lush woodland instead of rocks and dust, birdsong and lyrically brilliant arias instead of silence. Haydn was internationally renowned for his operas all his life and was even invited to undertake spectacular journeys to England. No wonder, because this score by the wittiest composer of Viennese classical music is simply bursting with creativity and is perfect for becoming “moonstruck”!

Il mondo della luna

composer: Joseph Haydn, in 1777
libretto: Carlo Goldoni
conductor: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
director: Tobias Moretti
orchestra: Concentus Musicus Vienna ( N. Harnoncourt’s orchestra)
Premiere: Sat, 05.12.2009 – 7:00 p.m.

at “Theater an der Wien”

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Haydn at Esterháza (Fertöd, Hungary)

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“…Well, here I sit in my wilderness – forsaken – like a poor waif – almost without any human society – melancholy – full of the memories of past glorious days – yes! past alas! – and who knows when these days shall return again? Those wonderful parties? Where the whole circle is one heart, one soul – all these beautiful musical evenings – which can only be remebered and not described – where are all these enthusiastic moments? – all gone – and gone for a long time…”

This is the beginning of one of Haydn’s remarkable letters, written to Maria Anna von Grenzinger in February 1790 shortly after his return to Eszterháza from the Christmas season in Vienna. This letter contains a rare glimpse of Haydn out of livery as “Capellmeister of His Highness the Prince (Esterházy) in whose service I live and die”, as Haydn had styled himself in another well-known letter, his autobiography of 1776.

When Baron Riesbeck visited Esterháza in the 1780s he observed that “The Neusiedler See, from which the castle is not far removed, makes miles of swamp and threatens in time to swallow up all the land right up to the Prince’s dwelling.” When Haydn used the term Einöde to refer to Esterháza he was perhaps translating the Hungarian term for the marshy plains of the area – puszta, which means “wilderness”.

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Haydn’s life at Esterháza apparently hinged on extremes of luxury and privation. Descriptions of the Hungarian Paradise invariably dwell on the lavish furnishings, exquisite collections, and dazzling theatrical entertainments that won it so many accolades.

At Esterháza Haydn lived with the other musicians, singers and traveling players in the Musicians’ Building, a two stried building of 250 rooms. It was from his appartment there that he wrote his letters to von Genzinger.

link to my article “visiting Esterháza Palace”

Haydn & Bach

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Haydn ventured into a bookshop and asked for a good textbook on theory. The bookseller named the writings of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach as the best and most recent. Haydn wanted to look and see for himself. He began to read, he understood, found what he was looking for, paid for the book, and took it away thoroughly pleased. That Haydn sought to make Bach’ s principles his own, that he studied them untiringly, is apparent even in his youthful works from that period. From his nineteenth year Haydn wrote quartets which gave him a reputation among lovers of music as a profound genius, so quickly had he learnt. As time went on, he acquired Bach s later writings. In his opinion Bach’s writings form the best, most thorough and most useful textbook ever published.
As soon as Haydn s musical output became available in print, Bach noted with pleasure that he could count Haydn among his pupils. He later paid Haydn a flattering compliment; that Haydn alone had understood [Bach’s] writings completely and had known how to make use of them.

from: AC Dies, Biographische Nachrichten von Joseph Haydn, Vienna, 1810, R/Berlin, 2nd edition, 1962, pp. 40f.

The dark, dramatic, improvisation-like passages that appear in some of Mozart’s and Haydn’s works are due in part to the influence of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s work.

taxidrivers become Haydn-experts

This news about the activities during the Joseph Haydn anniversary year 2009 made me smile:

The local representative of taxidrivers in Burgenland, member of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (Austrian business community) runs Haydn-seminars for their members (taxidrivers).

The cultural interested visitors during the Haydn Year 2009 will be well informed about Haydn and the Haydn-places by perfect prepared taxidrivers – as “Haydn-experts”.
I think I should make a test drive!

J.H.’s “La fedeltà premiata” now at the Opera in Zürich

Adam Fischer

Adam Fischer

Adam Fischer (picture), founder of the “Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra” and familiar to all Haydn works, is the musical director of Haydn’s opera “La fedeltà premiata” which  is now played at the Zürich Opera house.

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The Zürich-production is a very modern version of Haydn’s opera, which he composed once for the Opera House at Schloss Eszterháza, where it was played for the first time on 25 February 1781.

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Haydn: “…Now something about Paris. They were very surprised that my vocal composition should be so exceedingly complaisant; but I was not at all surprised, as they have not yet heard anything. If they were only to hear my operetta “L’isola disabitata” and my last opera for Shrovetide, “La fedeltà premiata”, I assure you that nothing has yet been heard like them in Paris, and perhaps not even in Vienna. My misfortune is only that I have to stay in the country..” — Joseph Haydn, 27 May 1781

link: Opera Zürich (Switzerland)

the Haydn-podcast

Austria’s cultural Broadcasting Station “Ö1” offers a “Haydn-Podcast”: documenting Joseph Haydn’s stations in life.
You may follow Joseph Haydn’s journey through Europe in 44 parts during the anniversary-year 2009.
– here the iTunes-Podcast-link “Seeking Haydn”

sometimes humor is a good way …

Haydn’s clear advice to his employer and sovereign Prince Esterházy, the “Farewell Symphony” was part of the New Years Concert program this year and amused along with the audience at the “Wiener Konzertverein” also millions who watched the concert on TV.

Joseph Haydn, Symphony Nr45, “The Farewell-Symphony”, last movement, in Vienna (Austria) on New Years Day by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Vienna’s “New Years Day Concert 2009”, Conductor: Daniel Barrenboim.

Have fun with Haydn and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra!!

for more information read one of my further articles about the “farewell Symphony” here