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Joseph Haydn
Nato/a: Rohrau (Niederösterreich) (Austria) 31/03/1732   Morto/a: Rohrau (Niederösterreich) (Austria) 31/05/1809
Lettere in cui viene citata questa persona
241 (18 agosto 1771) | visualizza
Austrian composer. Although later scholarship described Haydn and Mozart as the primary exponents of a ‘classical school’, their careers were substantially different and personal contact was restricted to the last period of Mozart's life.

Haydn was born in Rohrau, near the boundary of Lower Austria and Hungary, the eldest son of a wheelwright. In this rural, artisan background Haydn learned the violin and keyboard instruments and showed an above average talent as a treble. In 1737 or 1738 he moved to the nearby town of Hainburg, singing in the church and boarding with a relative, Johann Mathias Franck, the headmaster of the local school. A couple of years later he auditioned for Georg Reutter, the Kapellmeister of St Stephen's in Vienna, and he subsequently moved to there, spending the next ten years as a participant in the musical offerings that accompanied the church services at the cathedral and at court. At the age of seventeen Haydn's voice broke and he was dismissed from the choir school. For the next eight years he led a free lance life in Vienna, singing and playing the violin and the organ in church services, accompanying singing lessons given by Porpora, giving his own keyboard and theory lessons, and providing music for a German theatre company. Although his musical background and much of his freelance activity would more naturally have led to a career as a church composer, Haydn first appointment was as Kapellmeister to the Morzin family, probably in 1757. It was for this court that Haydn composed his first symphonies. At about the same time his first quartets were composed for another patron, Baron Fürnberg.

Because of financial difficulties Morzin had to disband his musical retinue and Haydn moved in 1761 to the Esterházy family, in whose employment he remained for the rest of his life, first as deputy Kapellmeister and then, from 1766 as Kapellmeister. The Esterházys were one of the richest aristocratic families in the Austrian territories, with palaces in Eisenstadt, Vienna, Pressburg (Bratislava) and Kittsee. Haydn served four successive princes: Prince Paul Anton up to his unexpected death in 1762; the most lavish of them, Prince Nicolaus, from 1762 until 1790; Prince Anton and, finally, Prince Nicolaus II. Apart from ensuring the smooth running of musical establishment, Haydn's duties at first included providing music for the court orchestra, some seventy symphonies by the early 1780s. Prince Nicolaus was especially interested in opera and at a new summer palace named after the family, Eszterháza, built two opera houses, one for Italian opera, the other for marionette operas performed in German. As Kapellmeister, Haydn was responsible for directing these performances and composed himself.

One consequence of Haydn's employment at the Esterházy court up to 1790 was that he was based most of the time in the new summer palace at Eszterháza or in Eisenstadt; visits to Vienna were occasional events, typically in the 1780s for a few weeks in December and January. Although there is no direct evidence, Haydn would have been aware of the reputation of the young Mozart in the 1760s and 1770s, if only through Joseph Haydn's brother, Michael, now working in Salzburg. Mozart, for his part, would have become increasingly aware of Haydn's music, from the works that reached Salzburg or were available in Vienna and, in Paris in 1778, the many printed editions that were sold in that city. Probably the nearest the two composers came to a meeting was in March 1768: Mozart spent virtually the whole of that year in Vienna and he could have attended a performance of Haydn's Stabat Mater that was directed by the composer in the church of the Barmherzige Brüder in the Leopoldstadt on the afternoon of Friday 25 March.

After Mozart moved to Vienna in 1781 there were greater opportunities for the two composers to meet. A plausible first meeting has been suggested for 22 and 23 December 1783, the dates of an important pair of charity concerts in the Burgtheater organized by the Tonkünstler Sozietät. The programmes that year included works by both Haydn and Mozart; although there is no actual evidence that Haydn was in Vienna at the time, he quite often spent Christmas and New Year in the capital. The first documented evidence of a meeting between the two composers was in 1784. In a celebrated account, the Irish tenor Michael Kelly relates that he attended a musical party in which quartets were played by Haydn (first violin), Dittersdorf (second violin), Mozart (viola), and Vanhal (cello). Kelly's memoirs were written several decades later and his account is not entirely convincing since Dittersdorf (a very capable violinist) is much more likely to have played first violin and Vanhal is not otherwise known to have played the cello; perhaps he conflated more than one social event in his account.

Mozart, by this time, was already working on six quartets stimulated in part by the appearance of Haydn's Op. 33 in 1782. By 1785 they were complete and were performed privately in Mozart's apartment in the Domgasse in the presence of Leopold Mozart and Haydn. In a letter to Nannerl Mozart, Leopold proudly reported Haydn’s comments about his son: 'I tell you before god, and as an honest man, that your son is the greatest composer I know, either personally or by reputation; he has taste and, moreover, the greatest possible knowledge of the science of composition'. The following autumn Mozart reciprocated the compliment when he dedicated his six quartets to Haydn, 'celebrated man and my dearest friend'.

1790 was a decisive year for Haydn. Probably in late August or early September Hadyn planned to conduct Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro at the Esterházy court. That summer, however, Prince Nicolaus became ill and was taken to Vienna where he died in September. Musical life, including the planned performances of Le nozze di Figaro, was abruptly halted. The new reigning prince, Anton, immediately put in place his plans to reduce the musical personnel at the court and Haydn moved to Vienna in the autumn. On 10 November Mozart returned from his journey to Germany and for the next four or five weeks the two composers seem to have been in almost daily contact. Maximilian Stadler recalled that the two played the viola parts in performances of the string quintets in C (K515), D (K593), and G minor (K516).

In December, the London violinist and impresario Johann Peter Salomon arrived in Vienna with the express intention of persuading Haydn to travel to London to be the resident composer in a forthcoming season of concerts. Mozart, who was a much more experienced traveler, allegedly remarked, ‘Papa, you have had no training for the great world, and you speak too few languages’. Haydn's reply reflected the international popularity that his music enjoyed: ‘Oh, my language is understood all over the world’. Vague arrangements were made that Mozart should join Haydn in London, but these never materialized.

Haydn subsequently made two visits to London, from January 1791 to June 1792, and from February 1794 to July 1795, where he extended his popularity, principally through the composition of the twelve London symphonies (Nos. 93-104). It was while he was in London that he heard of Mozart's premature death. He wrote to their mutual friend, Johann Michael Puchberg: 'For some time I was beside myself about his death, and I could not believe that Providence would so soon claim the life of such an indispensable man. I only regret that before his death he could not convince the English, who walk in darkness in this respect, of his greatness'. He went on to suggest that he try to organize a memorial concert in London and on his return to Vienna would give composition lessons free of charge to Mozart’s son Franz Xaver Wolfgang ‘so that he can, to some extent, fill his father's position'; neither plan came to fruition.

For the remainder of his life Haydn continued to lament the early death of Mozart but was also able to witness the beginnings of his posthumous popularity as both composers were increasingly linked together as the leading figures in Viennese musical life. Niemetschek’s biography of Mozart, which appeared in 1798, was dedicated to Haydn and contains many anecdotes, presumably related by Constanze Mozart, about the warm relationship between the two composers. In April 1805, the thirteen year old Franz Xaver Mozart made his debut in Vienna in a concert in the Theater an der Wien; the main item in the concert was a cantata, unfortunately lost, written to celebrate Haydn's recent 73rd birthday. In a symbolic gesture Haydn was to have led the young boy on to the stage but the ageing composer had become a frail man and he was unable to attend. He died in 1809.

Although many authors have written about the influence of Haydn on Mozart, and vice versa, there is no systematic or comprehensive account. Casual comments are sometimes simplistic, such as attributing all uneven phrase lengths in Mozart to the influence of Haydn or descending chromatic passages in Haydn to the influence of Mozart. Neither proposition distinguishes between the common, the special, and the unique. For instance Mozart's quartets K168-173 have often been said to show the influence of Haydn's Op. 20 but they seem to owe much more to broader traditions of quartet writing at the time, traditions that are reflected too in Haydn's Op. 20. The composition of quartets, however, is one area where there is testimony that Mozart sought to learn from Haydn. Mozart added copious dynamic marks on manuscript copies of Haydn's Op. 17 quartets in F, C and D and a short fragment of a quartet in E major, from c1780 is clearly modelled on Haydn's quartet in E major, Op. 17. Mozart's dedicatory letter in the 'Haydn' quartets remarks that they were 'the fruit of a long and laborious study' and there are number of striking correspondences between them and earlier quartets by Haydn: the finales of Op. 33, No. 5 and K421, the minuets of Op. 33, No. 2 and K428, and the slow movements of Op. 33, No. 1 and K465. Stadler's story of the two composers playing quintets together in the autumn of 1790 also invites comparison between the opening fast movements of Op. 64, No. 5 ('Lark') and K593 and the final movements of Op. 64, No. 6 and K614. Mozart's last three symphonies had been completed in the summer of 1788 and it is perhaps significant that their keys, E-flat major, G minor, and C major, are exactly the ones found in the Artaria print of three of Haydn's 'Paris' symphonies, Nos. 84, 83 and 82, published the previous December; there are some musical allusions here too. More generally, Mozart's increasing interest in monothematic sonata form towards the end of his life, as in the two late piano sonatas and the overture to Die Zauberflöte, almost certainly owes something to Haydn.

As regards the influence of Mozart on Haydn, it is difficult to find similar correspondences but Haydn’s broadening harmonic language in the 1780s and 1790s, especially the increasingly resourceful use of secondary dominant and diminished harmonies, is significant. Some commentators have heard echoes of Die Zauberflöte in certain passages in The Creation, such as the trio 'On thee each living soul awaits', with its windband scoring, but this may be part of musical development in general in the 1790s. Undeniable in its intent, however, is the quotation from the slow movement of the G-minor symphony K550 in the penultimate number of The Seasons, when the onset of winter is compared to the end of human life. Adapted from David Wyn Jones’ article ‘Haydn, Joseph’ in The Cambridge Mozart Encyclopedia. Lit.: Bonds, 'The Sincerest Form of Flattery? Mozart's "Haydn" Quartets and the Question of Influence'; Brown, 'Haydn and Mozart's 1773 Stay in Vienna: Weeding a Musicological Garden'; H. C. Robbins Landon, Mozart. The Golden Years. 1781-1791.

Si prega di utilizzare il seguente riferimento quando viene citato questo sito:
Eisen, Cliff et al. Con le Parole di Mozart, 'Joseph Haydn' <http://letters.mozartways.com>. Version 1.0, pubblicato da HRI Online, 2011. ISBN 9780955787676.
Con le Parole di Mozart. Version 1.0, pubblicato da HRI Online, 2011. ISBN 9780955787676