Symposium 106 - Haydn in London
Sunday, 21 April 2013 @ 5:00pm
Monday, 22 April 2013 @ 7:00pm
"Haydn in London - Haydn in Love"
Fortepiano Sonata No. 60 in C Major
The Mermaid's Song
She Never Told Her Love
The Spirit's Song
The Lady's Looking Glass
Trio No. 40 in F-sharp Minor
Tempo di Menuetto
Scottish and Welsh Folksongs for Voice, Violin, Cello, and Fortepiano
Leader Haughs and Yarrow
Fy let's a' to the Bridal
My Heart's in the Highlands
Trio No. 39 in G Major "Gypsy Rondo"
Rondo a l'Ongarese
Program Notes by James Roe
“Such a thing is only possible in England.”
— Joseph Haydn from his London diary
“A Knock at the Door”
One evening in 1790, Haydn received an unexpected visitor at his home in Vienna. Johann Peter Salomon (1745-1815), the German-born violinist and famous London impresario, knocked on the door. “I am Salomon of London and have come to fetch you. Tomorrow we will arrange an accord.”
Joseph Haydn was the most celebrated composer in Europe, but his duties as Kapellmeister to the aristocratic Hungarian family, Esterhàzy, kept him fully occupied with courtly duties. The Esterhàzy grand summer residence, Esterhàza, was known as the “Versailles of Hungary.” This immense 126-room palace was located about 50 miles southeast of Vienna and boasted two opera houses, one for Italian opera, and one for marionettes. Prince Nikolaus I (1714-1790) cultivated a rich cultural life centered at Esterhàza. Haydn, who served the family from 1761 until the end of his life, was charged with running the opera company and orchestra, as well as composing music for all aspects of court life. At its height in 1786, the Esterhàza opera company presented 125 performances of 17 different operas. When Nikolaus died in 1790, his successor, Prince Anton immediately disbanded the opera company and summarily fired all the musicians except for Haydn, his first violinist, and a small wind band.
With his duties much reduced, Haydn was contemplating his next steps when Salomon came calling. The vibrant concert life in London at the end of the 18th Century was fueled by an intense interest in the latest European trends and by plenty of wealth. Haydn’s music was already popular in London and he had received regular invitations to visit as early as 1782. Salomon had the good fortune to catch Haydn at the very moment his time freed up. It was, quite literally, fortunate for Haydn as well. Salomon offered fees far greater than anything Haydn had received from the Esterhàzys. Haydn’s initial contract was for an opera, six symphonies, twenty other pieces, and a grand benefit concert for which he would receive the princely sum of £1200.
On December 15, 1790, Haydn departed for England and reached the port of Calais on New Years Eve. The next day, he embarked on his first sea voyage, arriving in London on January 2, 1791. He wrote a letter to his friend Maria Anna von Genzinger, the wife of the Esterhàzy’s doctor, describing his early days in London:
“Now, I am occupied in looking at this endlessly huge city of London, whose various beauties and marvels quite astonish me. My arrival caused a great sensation through the whole city, and I went the round of all the newspapers for 3 successive days. Everyone wants to know me. I had to dine out 6 times up to now, and if I wanted, I could dine out every day; but first I must consider my health, and 2nd my work. Except for the nobility, I admit no callers till 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and at 4 o’clock I dine at home with Mon. Salomon. I have nice and comfortable, but expensive, lodgings. My landlord is Italian, and also a cook, and serves me 4 very respectable meals; we each pay 1 fl. 30 kr. a day excluding wine and beer, but everything is terribly expensive here. Yesterday I was invited to a grand amateur concert, but I arrived a bit late, and when I showed my ticket they wouldn’t let me in but led me to an antechamber, where I had to wait till the piece which was then being played in the hall was over. Then they opened the door, and I was conducted, on the arm of the entrepreneur, up the center of the hall to the front of the orchestra, amid universal applause, and there I was stared at and greeted by a great number of English compliments. I was assured that such honors had not been conferred on anyone for 50 years.”
Indeed everyone wanted to know Haydn. He became the toast of London and was received in the best homes and by royalty, including the Prince of Wales. He stayed in London until 1792 and returned for another visit in 1794. By the time he departed for Vienna on August 15, 1795, he was richer than he had ever been. In his London trips, he had accumulated 24,000 gulden, equivalent to over $1 million today. By comparison, in his decades of service to the Esterhàzys, he had only accumulated 2,000 gulden. Apart from his financial successes, the London public and press adored Haydn, his music was widely published, and he enjoyed warm friendships across all social classes.
Among his many London friends were three talented and influential women: poet Anne Hunter, and pianists Therese Jansen Bartolozzi and Rebecca Schroeter. This Symposium presents the chamber music Haydn wrote for these remarkable women.
“Unlucky in Love”
In the 1750s, Haydn was a freelance musician in Vienna, supporting himself by teaching keyboard lessons. Johann Peter Keller, a wigmaker to the Imperial court, hired Haydn to teach his seven children. Keller’s youngest daughter Therese (1732-1819) was the same age as Haydn, and the young pupil and teacher quickly fell in love, but there would be no marriage. Therese’s devoutly Catholic parents had chosen her to take the veil, and in 1755 she entered the convent of St. Nicholas and became a nun.
Five years later, Haydn married Therese’s older sister, Maria Anna Aloysia Apollonia Keller (1729-1800). Their unhappy marriage was loveless at best and often antagonistic. Haydn was known to refer to his wife as Xanthippe and, in one instance, bestia infernale. Maria Anna, who had no interest in music, responded by using Haydn’s scores to line her cooking pans and to curl her hair. They had no children. When they moved to the Esterhàzy court, both had fairly open affairs with much younger partners. Maria Anna took up with the court painter, Ludwig Guttenbrunn (1750-1819) and Haydn with a middling soprano in the Esterhàza opera company, named Luigia Polzelli (c. 1760-1830). Guttenbrunn left the Esterhàzy court in 1772 to study in Rome and never returned. Polzelli was dismissed 1790 with the rest of the Esterhàza opera company, and though she and Haydn stayed in contact through letters, they never saw each other again.
In 1789, Haydn became close with Anna Maria von Genzinger (1750-1793), a Viennese aristocrat, talented pianist, and wife of the Esterhàzy’s doctor. Their prolific correspondence reveals a deep Platonic relationship. Genzinger was Haydn’s confidant, and she seems to have provided him with a kind of emotional intimacy lacking in his other relationships with women. Genzinger was a talented pianist and in 1790, Haydn dedicated his Piano Sonata in E-flat to her.
“Haydn in London”
Therese Jansen Bartolozzi(c. 1770-1843) was a brilliant English pianist of German birth. Her father had been a successful dancing master in their home country, and when he relocated his family and profession to London, both flourished. Therese studied piano with Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) and was widely considered to be one of his finest pupils. She came to the attention of Johann Peter Salomon, who in turn brought her to Haydn’s concerts in London. Though Therese was a great virtuoso, she gave no public concerts. Her career existed entirely in the thriving world of London musical salons. On May 16, 1795, she married Gaetano Bartolozzi (1757-1821), the son of the famous artist and engraver, Francesco Bartolozzi (1725-1815). Haydn was a witness to their wedding in St. James’s Piccadilly, and his signature can still be seen in the parish register.
A number of composers dedicated works to Therese, including her teacher Clementi. Inspired by her dazzling technique and deeply intelligent musicianship, Haydn dedicated three fortepiano trios to her and wrote his last two solo sonatas specifically to showcase her artistry.
The first piece on Helicon’s program is one of the sonatas written for Therese Jansen Bartolozzi, Sonata No. 60 in C Major. This work abounds with Haydn’s sparkling wit and invention. The sonata opens with the simplest of gestures, a downward arpeggio that could be played by one finger. Haydn takes this simple idea and spins it out through a dazzling array of keyboard effects. The gracious Adagio is the kind of music one wishes would never end. Haydn scholar Elaine Sisman describes its “rhapsodic sweep of new figurations, draped ever more luxuriantly as the movement progresses.” The brief final movement is one of Haydn’s most amusing creations; almost everything in it is unexpected. Listen as Haydn repeatedly tangles the performer’s fingers in disjointed little clusters of notes as he tries and tries to complete a musical phrase. It is a delightful joke, and laughter is certainly encouraged.
Poet, Anne Hunter (1742-1821), was married to the prominent English surgeon, John Hunter (1728-1793). She hosted an influential weekly salon in their London home, which would have been enough of reason for them to meet Haydn, but it was Haydn’s pronounced nasal polyp that initially brought the composer into the doctor’s sphere. Haydn recalled the events to his biographer:
“In London, I came to know the famous surgeon Hunter, a man who almost daily performed surgical operations and always successfully. He had inspected my polyp and offered to free me of this nuisance. I had half agreed, but the operation was put off and at last I thought no more of it. Shortly before my departure, Hunter asked me to come and see him about some urgent matters. I went there. After the first exchange of greetings, a few brawny fellows entered the room, grabbed me and wanted to force me into a chair. I yelled, kicked and hit until I had freed myself and made clear to the doctor—who already had his instruments ready for the operation—that I did not want to undergo the procedure. He was very astonished at my obstinacy, and it seemed to me that he pitied me for not wanting to undergo the happy experience of enjoying his skill.”
The English writer Nicholas Williams offers another take on the story: “Haydn had designs on Mrs. Hunter. Her husband, the surgeon who founded the London Hospital, had designs on Haydn’s famous nasal polyp. Both were refused.”
While in London, Haydn collaborated with Anne Hunter on fourteen songs in English. He titled them Canzonettas and nine were settings of her poems. The other five songs have texts drawn from various literary sources chosen by Hunter.
Haydn’s Canzonettas are musically elaborate, often with demanding piano parts that interact with the vocal line and take a central role in expressing the text. “The Mermaid’s Song” is a fine example. The rippling piano figurations paint a vivid musical picture of waves and ocean spray. Haydn’s sensitive setting of Shakespeare’s words from Twelfth Night in “She Never Told Her Love,” is one of the finest art songs written in the 18th Century. “Fidelity” juxtaposes a turbulent storm scene with the comforts found with ones beloved. The hopeful repetition of the phrase “my heart is fixed on thee” with its utterly sunny musical character, balances the menace of the preceding storm. “The Spirit’s Song” was published separately from the other canzonettas. Anne Hunter’s poem portrays a departed spirit attempting to comfort her bereaved beloved from beyond the grave. Though the subject matter borders on the maudlin to modern sensibilities, Haydn’s wit offers the audience a few moments of relief so matters are not taken too seriously. Notice that when Haydn sets the words, “my spirit wanders free,” the melody is nearly a monotone. It hardly represents freedom or wandering. In the next phrase, the spirit says she waits for her beloved to join her beyond the grave. As she waits, the piano plays a repeated note over and over, for four bars. Anyone tapping a finger while waiting is not exactly demonstrating patience. The fact that the anticipated event is the beloved’s death, adds a delightfully arch double meaning to this song. The only existing manuscript of “The Ladies Looking Glass” is in Haydn’s own handwriting, but it is most probably not by him. The likely composer is an English musician and poet named Ann Hodges that Haydn referred to in his London diary as “the most beautiful woman [he] ever saw.” (An accolade he bestowed in the diary twice . . . on different women.) The final canzonetta of our set is “The Sailor’s Song,” a patriotic sea song celebrating the “hurly burly” life of British seamen.
“Haydn in Love”
A letter to Haydn dated March 7, 1792:
“My Dear: I was extremely sorry to part with you so suddenly last Night, our conversation was particularly interesting and I had a thousand affectionate things to say to you, my heart was and is full of tenderness for you, but no language can express half the Love and affection I feel for you, you are dearer to me every Day of my life. I am very sorry I was so dull and stupid yesterday, indeed my Dearest it was nothing but my being indisposed with a cold occasion’d my Stupidity. I thank you a thousand times for your Concern for me, I am truly sensible of your goodness, and I assure you my Dear, if any thing had happened to trouble me, I wou’d have open’d my heart, and told you with the most perfect confidence, oh, how earnestly I wish to see you, I hope you will come to me tomorrow. I shall be happy to see you both in the Morning and the Evening. God Bless you my love, my thoughts and best wishes ever accompany you, and I always am with the most sincere invariable Regard my Dear. My Dearest I can not be happy till I see you, if you know, do tell me, when you will come. Your truly affectionate, Rebecca Schroeter”
A wealthy widow, Rebecca Schroeter (1751-1826) was a talented amateur pianist and had begun taking lessons with Haydn shortly after he arrived in London. Once again, affection blossomed at the keyboard. Haydn meticulously copied twenty-three letters he received from her into his London diary. They paint a picture of a loving relationship, in which Schroeter lavished affection on the composer. She admired him and his music. Late in his life, he told his biographer that she was “a beautiful and charming woman and I would have married her very easily if I had been free at the time.”
Haydn dedicated his final three piano trios to Schroeter, two of which are on the second half of this program. The works were especially written to suit her musicality and technique. The two often played them together, and the Adagio of the Trio in F# Minor became a special favorite to which they often returned. In 1794, Salomon presented a concert of orchestral music by Haydn, with the composer conducting from the keyboard. Rebecca was in the audience that evening, and Haydn had prepared a special gift for her. The program included the premiere of his Symphony No. 102. When the orchestra began playing the second movement, Rebecca alone would have recognized the music. It was the same music as the adagio from the Trio in F# Minor that she so loved. The trio had not yet been published, so the London audience could not have known that Haydn was using a full symphony orchestra to send a private message to one person in the audience.
Her former husband, Johann Samuel Schroeter, had also been a prominent musician. In 1791, Schroeter’s music publisher, William Napier (c. 1740-1812), had fallen into financial trouble and was facing bankruptcy. In an act of charity, Haydn arranged fifty Scottish Folksongs for voice, violin, cello, and keyboard and gave them to Napier to publish. This volume was so successful that Napier was able to not only repay Haydn, but to commission a second volume. Across the rest of his life, Haydn would produce nearly 400 such arrangements for three different publishers.
Helicon’s program concludes with another work Haydn wrote for Rebecca, the Trio in G Major, known as “The Gypsy Rondo.” Christopher Hogwood describes the ebullient Finale of this trio as a “Hungarian extravaganza.” One can easily imagine how much Haydn enjoyed Rebecca’s delight in receiving the new work. Like the audience at the premiere of Haydn’s 102nd Symphony, today we share the public expression of their private love.