Music Composers

Franz Joseph Haydn-Part 6

April 1, 1732 to May 31, 1809

Lessons From Haydn's Life

by Henry T. Finck

Here we have the chief lesson from Haydn's life. He might have become a great composer under other conditions, too, but it is not likely that he would have been able to do as much as he did to develop the modern symphony and chamber music had he not had that orchestra laboratory, so to speak, at Esterhaz, for three decades, for making his musical experiments. If we now ask why it is that in America, for example, we have had so many more good songs written than orchestra pieces, the answer readily suggest itself; Because our composers have not been so lucky as Haydn was to own their own orchestras for making experiments - for trying, changing, improving. A song is easily tried at the piano, whereas an orchestral rehearsal costs $500. Edward MacDowell often spoke of the desirability of having an orchestra maintained by a millionaire, which would be willing to play manuscript pieces to encourage the composers, and for the sole benefit. Perhaps some day we shall have an Esterhazy. Personally, I do not see why Mr. Carnegie should not do such a thing instead of erecting so many hundreds of libraries. For, is it not nobler to encourage and stimulate genius than to provide reading matter for the multitude?

So far as Haydn was concerned there was, however, a drawback to the Esterhazy arrangement to which Sir Hubert Parry has called attention. At the time when Haydn began to write symphonies for the Count's orchestra, these compositions were not intended for large concert halls, but only for noblemen's houses, and were, therefore, on a much smaller scale than the symphonic works of later times. "Composers did not exert themselves much to put poetical or elevated thoughts into them, or to make them deeply impressive in any way, but aimed at an agreeable and easy style which was most likely to please their aristocratic patrons."

The Etude Magazine January 1907






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