On the night appointed for the last performance a brilliant company, including the prince, had assembled. The music of the new symphony began gayly enough—it was even merry. As it went on, however, it became soft and dreamy. The strains were sad and “long drawn out.” At length a sorrowful wailing began. One instrument after another left off, and each musician, as his task ended, blew out his lamp and departed with his music rolled up under his arm.
Haydn was the last to finish, save one, and this was the prince’s favorite violinist, who said all that he had to say in a brilliant violin cadenza, when, behold! he made off.
The prince was astonished. “What is the meaning of all this?” cried he.
“It is our sorrowful farewell,” answered Haydn.
This was too much. The prince was overcome, and, with a good laugh, said: “Well, I think I must reconsider my decision. At any rate, we will not say ‘good-by’ now.”
During the thirty years of Haydn’s quiet life with the Esterhazys he had been gradually acquiring an immense reputation in France, England, and Spain, of which he himself was unconscious. His great symphonies had stamped him worldwide as a composer of remarkable creative genius. Haydn’s modesty prevented him from recognizing his own celebrity. Therefore, we can fancy his astonishment when, shortly after the death of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, a stranger called on him and said: “I am Salomon, from London, and must strike a bargain with you for that city immediately.”
Haydn was dazed with the suddenness of the proposition, but the old ties were broken up, and his grief needed recreation and change. Still, he had many beloved friends, whose society it was hard to leave. Chief among these was Mozart. “Oh, papa,” said Mozart, “you have had no training for the wide world, and you speak so few languages.” “Oh, my language is understood all over the world,” said Papa Haydn, with a smile. When he departed for England, December 15, 1790, Mozart could with difficulty tear himself away, and said, with pathetic tears, “We shall doubtless now take our last farewell.”
Haydn and Mozart were perfectly in accord, and each thought and did well toward the other. Mozart, we know, was born when Haydn had just reached manhood, so that when Mozart became old enough to study composition the earlier works of Haydn’s chamber music had been written; and these undoubtedly formed the studies of the boy Mozart, and greatly influenced his style; so that Haydn was the model and, in a sense, the instructor of Mozart. Strange is it then to find, in after-years, the master borrowing (perhaps with interest!) from the pupil. Such, however, was the fact, as every amateur knows. At this we can hardly wonder, for Haydn possessed unbounded admiration not only for Mozart, but also for his music, which the following shows. Being asked by a friend at Prague to send him an opera, he replied: