Franz Josef Haydn
born March 31, 1732, died May 31, 1809
(painting from 1791)
Anke: Maestro, I hope it's not a bother to see us right
now--you look awfully tired.
Haydn: Oh, it's no trouble at all, I'm happy to see
you--but, it's true, I am very tired, because I just got back from London.
Ernst: What were you doing there?
Haydn: Ah--what wasn't I doing! This was my
second trip! Mr. Salomon, the biggest impressario in England, asked me to come five years
ago, and then, when I came home, he asked me to come again!
Anke: Did you write music there?
Haydn: Did I! Only twelve symphonies, two oratorios,
three piano sonatas, a few string quartets, and some other things. Plus, I conducted many
concerts, taught some students, played harpsichord, piano and viola, gave speeches, and
went to what seemed like a thousand dinners and parties they gave for me.
Ernst: But that sounds like fun!
Haydn: Oh, it was! The people were very generous and
enthusiastic, and I had a wonderful time. But it was still exhausting!
Anke: Mr. Haydn, my teacher told me you once lived in a big
palace; are you rich?
Haydn: No, my dear, but I once worked for a prince and
his brother, and they were extremely rich.
Ernst: Who were they?
Haydn: Princes of the famous Esterhazy family, and much
of the year we stayed at their palace, Esterhaza, just outside of Vienna. It's
one of the most glorious palaces in Europe.
Ernst: I've seen that! Wow! You worked there?
Haydn: Oh yes--for 29 years. Prince Nicholas was my boss
most of that time, and that was lucky for me because he loved music and was willing to
spend a lot of money on it. We had two concert halls, an opera house, a marionette
theater, and all the players and singers I needed.
Anke: A marionette theater? You mean for puppet shows?
Haydn: That's right. Prince Nicholas loved puppet shows,
so I wrote six operas for the marionette theater. The orchestra and singers hid under the
stage, and we would perform the music while the puppets did the acting.
Ernst: Was the Prince a singer, too? Somebody told me he was a
Haydn: Not quite. You see, he played the baryton
(it's pronounced the same, but spelled differently). The baryton is a large string
instrument that's played like a bass viol. I spent many hours teaching and playing baryton
duets with him, and several composers wrote compositions for him.
Anke: Did you write some also?
Haydn: More than 175; a lot of them are duets for two
barytons, and if you saw them you'd probably notice that one part was a good deal easier
than the other--(winks)--I'll let you guess why.
Ernst: Was Prince Nicholas the one who nicknamed you
Haydn: (laughs) Now where did you hear that? No, I think
that got started in Vienna. I suspect it was Mozart--he was full of jokes and mischief.
But he was a wonderful friend, and surely the greatest genius ever; we lost him just four
Anke: We didn't mean to end on such a sad note. But we'll
go now; you're very tired. Thank you for visiting with us, Master.
Haydn: You're most welcome--please come again.