Tag Archives: Joseph Haydn

Mozart’s carriage and the Haydn cartwright tradition

 

In 1762 Leopold Mozart purchased a horse-drawn coach in Pressburg: a well-sprung, covered travel carriage for four at the price of “nur 23 duccatten”. Leopold described it as a “guten Reisewagen”. It brought the family safely back to Vienna (a trip of 12 hours) and from there home to Salzburg, leaving Vienna on 31 December 1762. Half a year later the Mozart family used the same carriage for their grand tour of Western Europe (1763–66), which took them as far as London.

It is likely that the carriage Leopold purchased in Pressburg came from the workshop of the Haydn family, which was for several generations involved with carriage production and shared the market with just a few others. The family profession of carriage building began with Thomas Haydn, Joseph’s grandfather, who was allowed to open a workshop in 1686.

Joseph Haydn stayed interested in the work of cartwrights, blacksmiths, and other manual professions. His letters and notebooks from London in particular show his interest in the working conditions of craftsmen there, and his preference for technical and practical matters, numbers, and measurements. Even at the peak of his international success, Haydn stayed connected to the family’s cartwright tradition.

The carriage trade was still on his mind during his second stay in London, when he made several visits to a Mr. March, an 84-year-old dentist, wine merchant, and carriage maker. The aged gentleman impressed Haydn not only because of his very young mistress and a daughter of nine, but also because each coach sold by Mr. March earned him at least £500.

This according to “Did Mozart drive a ‘Haydn’? Cartwrights, carriages and the postal system in the Austrian-Hungarian border area up to the eighteenth century” by Käthe Springer-Dissmann, an essay included in Ottoman empire and European theatre. II: The time of Joseph Haydn–From Sultan Mahmud I to Mahmud II (r.1730–1839) (Wien: Hollitzer Wissenschaftsverlag, 2014, 257–80; RILM Abstracts 2014-88916).

Above, an Austrian carriage from around 1790; below, a carriage ride through Mozart’s Vienna.

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Haydn and Lady Hamilton

Lady Hamilton

Returning from Palermo to London in 1800 Lady Hamilton, the poet Cornelia Knight, the ambassador Sir William Hamilton, and Lord Nelson stopped on the way for a visit to Eisenstadt.

From 6 to 10 September the entourage was hosted by Nikolaus I, Prince Esterházy with receptions, dances, and concerts in their honor. Haydn organized a performance of his Te Deum and Nelson Mass (Missa in Angustiis), and composed Lines from the Battle of the Nile, to a text by Ms. Knight, for Emma Hamilton to sing.

Hamilton repeated the cantata in Prague on 8 October, and in 1801 the work was published there with the dedication “The music composed and dedicated to Lady Hamilton.”

This according to “Eternal praise! Joseph Haydn komponiert für Lady Hamilton/Eternal Praise! Joseph Haydn compone per Lady Hamilton” by Dieter Richter, an essay included in Lady Hamilton: Eros und Attitüde–Schönheitskult und Antikenrezeption in der Goethezeit/Eros e attitude–Culto della bellezza e antichità classica nell’epoca di Goethe (Petersburg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2015, pp. 54–56).

Above, Lady Hamilton in a ca. 1782 portrait by George Romney; below, Emma Kirkby sings Lines from the Battle of the Nile.

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Haydn and Ellington

In what he dubbed “a musicological jeu d’esprit”, Edward Green drew 25 parallels between the lives of Joseph Haydn and Duke Ellington in “Haydn and Ellington: Parallel lives?” (International review of the aesthetics and sociology of music XL/2 [December 2009] pp. 349–51). These include:

  • Both had an outstanding orchestra at their immediate disposal for decades. This meant that they wrote for individuals, not just for instruments, and enabled the striking timbral and contrapuntal risks that they felt safe taking.

  • Both helped to create the predominant musical style of their century, and were celebrated in their lifetime for having done so.

  • Despite the necessity of producing numerous occasional works, both took an experimental attitude to composing, striving for freshness of form, design, and content, and their styles changed and developed remarkably over their careers.

  • Both had a notoriously keen business sense.

Today is Haydn’s 270th birthday! Below, Baryton Trio Valkkoog performs the Adagio and Finale Fuga from Haydn’s “Birthday” trio, Hob.XI:97, composed for the birthday of  Prince Nikolaus Esterházy.

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Schubert deltiography

Schubert deltiography, a database produced by The Schubert Institute as part of its Schubert ographies website, is an open-access online resource for postcards bearing images relevant to Schubert—portraits, buildings, and so on. In addition to reproductions of both sides of the cards, entries include detailed annotations for deltiologists and other interested parties.

Above, a postcard depicting Schubert playing the “trout” quintet (piano quintet in A Major, D. 667) with Mozart, Haydn, Bach, and Gluck in Heaven (click to enlarge). The audience includes Beethoven and Wagner; leave a comment if you can identify others!

Below, a terrestrial performance of the work’s first movement by members of the Amadeus Quartet with Clifford Curzon.

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New Haydn journal

Launched in 2011 by the Haydn Society of North America and based at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Haydn (ISSN 2163-2723) is dedicated to the dissemination of all areas and methodologies of research and performance considerations regarding the music, culture, life, and times of Joseph Haydn and his circle.

Each semiannual issue will include large and small articles, reviews, reactions to previous articles, and other new and pertinent information. The journal’s Web-based format is intended to take full advantage of current and emerging electronic media.

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Physiognomy as biography

Due to the widespread popularity of theories first expounded in Physiognomische Fragmente zur Beförderung der Menschenkenntnis und Menschenliebe by Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741–1801), eighteenth- and nineteenth-century intellectuals viewed portraits as presenting clear information on a variety of aspects of the subject’s personality—qualities that their usual approach to biography, which focused only on verifiable facts, omitted. This aspect of portraiture is largely lost on modern music historians.

For example, in 1871 the English cleric and writer Hugh Reginald Haweis provided this interpretation of George Dance’s portrait of Haydn (reproduced above): “The face of Haydn is remarkable quite as much for what it does not as for what it does express. No ambition, no avarice, no impatience, very little excitability, no malice.

“On the other hand, it indicates a placid flow of even health, an exceeding good-humour, combined with a vivacity which seems to say, ‘I must lose my temper sometimes, but I can not lose it for long’; a geniality which it took much to disturb, and a digestion which it took more to impair; a power of work steady and uninterrupted; a healthy devotional feeling; a strong sense of humour; a capacity for the enjoyment of all the world’s good things, without any morbid craving for irregular indulgence; affections warm, but not intense; a presence accepted and beloved; a mind contented almost anywhere, attaching supreme importance to one, and one thing only—the composing of music—and pursuing this object with the steady instinct of one who believed himself to have come into the world for that purpose alone.”

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