Music Composers

Franz Joseph Haydn-Part 4

April 1, 1732 to May 31, 1809

Lessons From Haydn's Life

by Henry T. Finck

With Porpora

Another lesson. Medieval ballads and romances tell us of the humiliations to which the Knights were willing to subject themselves to win the favor of a fair lady. Just so did Haydn temporarily debase himself for the sake of serving his muse. He cleaned the clothes and blackened the shoes of a famous musician that he might benefit by his company, his instruction, and his travels. This musician was Porpora, the most famous teacher of his time. He invited Haydn to act as his accompanist, and, in return, for this and the menial service referred to, gave him lessons. While with him, Haydn also had the advantage of meeting Gluck, Dittersdorf, and other prominent musicians of the time. Dittersdorf was, in his day, considered a greater master than Mozart.

His Married Life

Gradually, Haydn made his way in Vienna. In 1759 he was appointed private composer to Count Morzin, and conductor of his small orchestra. His salary was only about $100 a year, but that seemed to him enough for two; at any rate, he wanted to marry the younger daughter of a wig maker. She, however, chose a convent, and Haydn, Jacob-like, was persuaded to marry her sister. This proved to be the tragedy of his life - the only tragedy, but one which lasted longer than a Chinese play. She turned out a perfect calamity - in the words of C.F. Pohl, she as a "regular Xantippe - heartless, unsociable, quarrelsome, extravagant, and bigoted". She cared not a straw whether her husband was an artist or a shoemaker. She tore up valuable manuscripts to make curl papers. Yet, so imperturbable was Haydn's good humor, that even this domestic affliction, which lasted forty years, did not unbalance him. "Anyone can see by the look of me that I am a good natured sort of fellow", he used to say. And thus even this episode teaches a lesson - how to be happy though unhappily married!

The Etude Magazine January 1907






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