Josph Haydn - George Upton

New Works

Haydn returned to his beloved Kaiser city, July 24, 1792. His successes in London had made his name known throughout the civilized world, and had also yielded a clear profit of twelve thousand gulden. He purchased a house in Kleine Steingasse, a quiet, retired spot in the suburb of Gumpendorf, now known as Haydngasse. In the little garden there is a pedestal surmounted with a bust of Haydn in sandstone. Many young persons now applied to him for instruction. The Elector of Cologne sent him a pupil, and Haydn soon discovered that he had extraordinary talent and that a great future was in prospect for him. The pupil was Ludwig van Beethoven, then in his twenty-second year.

Haydn had no idea of resting upon his laurels. After remaining in Vienna nearly six months he started upon his second trip to London, January 19, 1793. He would gladly have taken Beethoven with him, for he was a brilliant pianist, and his fantasies indicated that he would become one of the great tone-poets; but the austere and reserved youth, whose childhood had been a sorrowful one, distrusted Haydn and fancied that he was neglecting him. Shortly after Haydn left Vienna he became the pupil of Albrechtsberger.

Haydn's fresh successes in London were as marked as those during his first visit. He became a great favorite with the British aristocracy, and was often entertained at court. He conducted twenty-six concerts in the Prince of Wales's concert rooms, but received no compensation for them until he sent his bill for one hundred guineas after he returned to Vienna, which was paid by Parliament. During the second visit he brought out many new works, among them twelve symphonies, besides sonatas, choruses, arias, marches, quartets, minuets and other dances, ballads, Scotch songs, and "Orpheus," an opera.

Another great German composer laid the foundations of his world-fame in London before Haydn's time. This was George Frederick Handel, the composer of many majestic oratorios, among which "The Messiah," "Samson," and "Judas Maccabreus," are the greatest. Handel was the son of a barber and surgeon in Halle, and in 1710 went to England, which he made his second home. Here he became court composer, and here he died in 1759. He rests among other celebrated German musicians in the Poet's corner of Westminster Abbey, where great statesmen, scholars, poets, and artists are buried. Besides his oratorios, he wrote a series of operas which were brought out in London in Italian under his direction, and which became the models of Italian opera not only in England but all over Europe. Handel encountered opposition, like Haydn, during his first visit, and the rivalry became so intense and bitter that at times it became almost a frenzy. His iron will and energetic spirit, however, enabled him to overcome all opposition, and at last he vanquished his enemies. With all their composers, singers, and musicians, they could not dethrone this one German musical hero.

The Handel Commemoration, given in honor of his memory, took place during Haydn's second visit to London, and was a memorable event. Over a thousand singers and musicians participated in it. Their Majesties and the princesses occupied the royal box, and the handsomely attired audience presented a brilliant spectacle. The consecrated hall of the Abbey resounded with the mighty music of Handel's works, and when the thousand voices shouted the "Hallelujah" in the "Messiah" the King rose and the entire assemblage imitated his example, inspired by reverence for this majestic tribute to the Almighty. Haydn stood near the royal box and was so overcome by the impressiveness of Handel's music that the tears flowed down his cheeks.

"Handel is the master of us all," he exclaimed—he, whom all England at that time was admiring. A similar impression was made upon him at the annual gathering of the Charity Scholars at Saint Paul's Cathedral. "No music," said he, "has touched me more deeply in my life than the devout and innocent songs of these four thousand children."

The King tried to persuade Haydn to remain permanently in England, and the Queen offered him a residence at Windsor, but his heart was too deeply attached to his Austrian fatherland. In this respect he resembled Mozart, who declined Frederick William the Second's offer of the position of court chapel-master, with a salary of three hundred thalers, preferring rather to return to his poorly paid office of chamber musician in Vienna.

In August, 1795, Haydn was once more in the loved Kaiser city. Besides the increase of his artistic fame his journey had borne him golden fruit.

His benefit yielded him four thousand gulden; and he brought back with him in all the sum of twenty-four thousand gulden.

Shortly after his return he visited his native village. Count Harrach, the proprietor of Rohrau, escorted him to a newly laid out park, where a monument had been erected in honor of the son of the old-time wheelwright. As Haydn entered the house in which he was born, he knelt at the door of the living-room and kissed the threshold which his youthful feet had so often crossed. He was deeply moved at sight of the stone bench. "I used to sit there when I was a child," he said to the distinguished company, not ashamed to acknowledge his lowly birth. "I used to scrape upon a board on my arm with a fiddle bow which I made out of a willow switch. Young people may learn from my experiences that something can come out of nothing. All that I am, pressing necessity has made me."

In the course of his career Haydn had survived many changes in Austrian rule. Joseph the Second succeeded Maria Theresa, and Leopold the Second followed Joseph. Since 1792 Emperor Francis had been ruling. Shortly after he ascended the throne, France declared war, which lasted five years, and ended in the peace of Campo Formio, an unfortunate one for Austria. At first the fortunes of war favored Austria, but after the desertion by its allies the war took an unfavorable turn, and the French army under Bonaparte won victory after victory. In those gloomy days Count Saurau, the Imperial High Chancellor, and Haschka, a Viennese poet, suggested to Haydn that he should compose a national hymn which should declare to the world the attachment of the Austrian people to their sovereign, and rouse them to make every sacrifice for the Fatherland in the days of its tribulation. This was the origin of the hymn "God Save the Emperor." It was their idea that the hymn should be singable, and that the melody should appeal to the ear and heart of the people, and give practical effect to the words of the poem. There was but one man in all Austria who could do this, and that was Papa Haydn, who united consummate musical ability with exalted patriotism. He undertook the work and produced the most impressive of all national hymns—one in which every tone is a heartbeat of the people.

On the Emperor's birthday, Feb. 12, 1797, "God Save the Emperor" was heard for the first time in every theatre in Vienna. The Emperor himself, who had known nothing about the scheme, heard it from his box in the Burg Theatre, and was deeply moved. It was indeed a song of faith, the passionate expression of the people offering their unswerving loyalty to their sovereign in his time of trouble. The hymn flew from mouth to mouth through all the provinces. The text has been changed, but the melody remains the same, and is dear to every German heart in the Austrian land.