One delightful little incident must be related before closing this chapter, partly because of the prettiness of it, partly to show the position he had now won in Austria. Soon after his return to Vienna, a Count Herrach and some other friends took him to Rohrau, and showed him there, on the banks of the Leitha, a monument with a bust of him. They visited his birthplace, and Haydn went down on his knees and kissed the threshold. Then he showed his companions the stove where, as a baby, he had sat and pretended to play the violin. “There,” he said, “is where my musical career began.” He had had many triumphs, and more were to come, but none can have been more pleasant to him than this.
THE GREAT SYMPHONIES
Till Haydn came to London, he had nearly always been compelled to compose for small bands. Count Morzin’s, in fact, could scarcely be called a band. It consisted of a few strings, with a few wind instruments to increase the volume of the tuttis. The contrast of loud with soft passages was the most frequently used way of getting change and variety; though often solos were given to one instrument or another. Of orchestral colour, of orchestration in the modern sense, there was little. Haydn himself confessed in his old age that only then, when he had to leave the world, had he learnt how to use the wind instruments. But if Mozart’s delightful tone-colouring cannot be found in the London symphonies, there is at any rate much greater fullness and richness than we find in the earlier ones. Yet here, again, Mozart was ahead of him, and one reason for this was the very different natures and textures of the two men’s music. Haydn spoke naturally through the string quartet, and many of the slow movements of his symphonies, beautiful and profoundly moving though they are, are quartet movements, only requiring a larger number of instruments because greater fullness and force were needed to make the music satisfying in a large hall. Mozart’s music was entirely different in texture. One cannot imagine the slow movement of the G Minor Symphony without wood wind. Haydn knew what his music was, and what orchestration it wanted, and he never dreamed of over-orchestrating. What he would have said of such music as that of Berlioz, where the orchestration is ridiculously out of proportion to the phrases, where the orchestra makes all the effect, if any at all is made, I cannot guess. He used extra instruments when he needed them, as, for example, in the “Military” symphony. The touch of instrumentation in the andante of the “Surprise” is another instance. The idea of scaring sleepy old ladies with a sudden bang on the drums—the kettle-drum bolt—is often mentioned as an example of Haydn’s “humour.”