22 Nov, 2008

The Triumph of Music

Geschrieben von: Blogger In: Haydn

In 1790, the Austrian composer Joseph Haydn was miserable. “It really is sad always to be a slave,” he wrote to a friend. Despite having composed some of the greatest orchestral works yet heard, Haydn was not a free man. His employer, Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy, could dictate how the court musician dressed (a powdered pigtail and white stockings), what he ate (Haydn was partly paid in semolina, cabbages, beef and lard) and how his music was disseminated. He was not at liberty “to communicate…new compositions to anyone, nor to allow them to be copied, but to retain them wholly for the exclusive use of his Highness”. By 1790, Haydn had been working under these restrictive conditions for nearly 30 years. “I did not know if I was a Kapell-master or a Kapell-servant,” he complained. “I’m a poor creature!”

By the time he died in 1809, all this had changed. Haydn’s name was lauded in Paris and London. In Vienna in 1808, he was carried into a gala performance of his masterwork, The Creation, in an armchair, like a monarch on a throne. When he died, even Napoleon paid his respects. The power of princes was waning; that of composers was rising. As Tim Blanning writes, “At the beginning of his career, Haydn became famous because he was the Kapellmeister for the Esterhazys; by the time he died, the Esterhazys were famous because their Kapellmeister was Haydn.”

Gefunden in: Times Online



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