Haydn eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 57 pages of information about Haydn.

The clavier music, with the exception of a few bits, is of no great importance; still, I have played much of it with pleasure in Dr. Riemann’s edition, and found many charming things.  His genius, however, so far as anything less in scale than the symphony was concerned, was all for the string quartet.  Some of his slow movements, in their sudden moments of unsuspected depths of feeling, prophesy of the coming of the great human Beethoven rather than the ethereal, divinely beautiful Mozart.  Suavity, smoothness, piquancy, perfect balance between section and section, and each movement and the other movements—­these characterize all the later quartets.  They were intended for chamber use only—­to play them in a large hall is criminal—­and it almost goes without saying that, after the hot stuff of Beethoven and even Schubert, more than a couple of them in an evening palls on one’s palate.  Haydn was in many ways a great, a very great, composer; but no one can live with his work as one can live with Bach or Beethoven.  We are all of the nineteenth or twentieth century; Haydn was of the eighteenth.  Such contradictions of godlike greatness and mere simple childishness were surely never met together in one man, and we can worship the greatness without any compulsion to tolerate the childishness.

For the operas a few words will suffice.  In style they are far more old-fashioned than Mozart’s or Gluck’s, and he had the dramatic—­or, rather, theatrical—­instinct much less strongly developed than either of these.  He wrote strings of songs, duets, etc., for the theatre at Esterhaz—­many of them for the Marionette Theatre—­and was content if they pleased his patron.  One or two were given elsewhere with some success; but, with regard to Armide, he wrote stating his view that his operatic works should not be given at all save in the conditions for which they were composed.  Those conditions have now for ever passed away, and excepting as curiosities the operas will never be heard again.

CHAPTER VI

1790-1795

All his magnificence over, Prince Nicolaus was left to sleep tranquilly in his tomb regardless of the mocking funereal magnificence around him; Prince Anton succeeded him, and dismissed the band, and pensioned Haydn; and Haydn, at the age of fifty-eight, was free.  Salomon’s horses must have been made to sweat on that rush back from Cologne to Vienna, and he was rewarded for his own enterprise and their toils.  He captured Haydn easily.  Haydn, in fact, having done his day’s work manfully, seemed determined to have a jolly fling in the evening of his life, and, we may note, he determined to have it at a profit.  In the event his little fling turned out to be, so far as externals went, quite the most exhilarating part of his life; until now all might seem to have been mere prelude and preparation.  At Eisenstadt, Esterhaz and Vienna he had received compliments and

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Haydn from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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