Imatges de pÓgina

him to reside in the same house with Metastasio, but their situations were very different. Metastasio, as poet to the emperor, lived in easy circumstances, while poor Haydn passed the winter days in bed for want of fuel. But the society of the Roman poet was a great advantage to him. A gentle and deep sensibility had given Metastasio a correct taste in all the arts.' He was passionately fond of music, and duly appreciated Haydn's talents, to whom he communicated some valuable general rules respecting the fine arts. He also taught him Italian, which enabled him to add grace and delicacy to the force of his compositions.

Our author here laments, that the liberality of some Mæcenas did not enable Haydn at this period to complete his education in Italy. We are not sure, however, that the original character of his genius might not have been affected by such an event; and that he might not have dwindled into an imitator of other great composers. The experiment, however, was not tried, and he continued to make provision for the day that was passing over his head,' till, at the age of twenty-six, he obtained a permanent situation in the orchestra of the Count Mortzin, where the old prince Anthony Esterhazy was so charmed with one of his symphonies, that he requested Haydn might be given up to him. Count Mortzin consented, and he was duly installed in the office of second professor of music in the prince's orchestra, where he was compelled to lay aside his natural hair and youthful elegance, and to imprison himself in a formal coat, a wig, large silver buckles, a stiff collar, and red heeled shoes, which the prince himself particularly directed to be made of a good height, in order that his stature might correspond with his intelligence. On the death of his patron, he was transferred to his successor Prince Nicholas, whose favourite amusement was to play upon the baritone, a complex instrument between the tenor and bass, for which Haydn was expected to produce a new piece of music every morning; and this necessity contributed materially to his improvement in the art of composition.

Placed at the head of a grand orchestra in the Esterhazy family, Haydn passed thirty years of his life in one unvaried round of study and amusement. But before he could enter upon this enviable course of life, he had a pledge to redeem which forms a short episode in his history. The Germans,' our author observes, are possessed with the mania of marriage. To a gentle, affectionate, and timid people, domestic pleasures are of the first necessity.' Haydn's early friend Keller had a daughter to whom Haydn appears to have inconsiderately suffered himself to be contracted by her parents, while they resided under the same roof; and as soon as he had a permanent situation, he made her his wife. His dreams


of domestic happiness, however, soon vanished; for his helpmate, a prude and a devotee, filled his house with monks and priests, whose noisy uninteresting conversation interrupted his studies from morning till night. But this was not all; for, to avoid unpleasant curtain-lectures from his wife, he was obliged to employ himself assiduously in composing gratis masses and motetts for their several convents. Flesh and blood could not long endure such a life as this; they separated by mutual consent, and Haydn attached himself to the society of Signora Boselli, a lovely singer in Prince Esterhazy's orchestra. This lady we suppose rather assisted than interrupted his musical pursuits, for their attachment continued thirty years; it might, perhaps, originate in affection, or arise from their being engaged in similar pursuits, and was continued by habit till her death.

The history of the next thirty years is told in a few words. Haydn rose early, dressed himself very neatly, and placed himself at a small table by the side of his piano-forte, where the hour of dinner usually found him still seated. In the evening he went to the rehearsals, or to the opera which was performed in the Prince's palace four times every week. Sometimes, but not often, he devoted a morning to hunting. The little time which he had to spare was divided between his friends and Signora Boselli. This habit of unremitting application will alone account for the number of Haydn's works, which are stated to have consisted of no less than nine hundred and ninety pieces, including an hundred and eighteen symphonies, eighty-two quartetts, and twenty-two operas and oratorios.

In this uninterrupted and pleasing course of life, Haydn continued till the death of Prince Nicholas and of Signora Boselli in 1789. Notwithstanding repeated invitations from Naples, Lisbon, Venice, Milan, Paris, and London, it was not till after the death of his patron and of his friend, which made him feel a void in his existence, that he could be prevailed upon to pass the mountains. Fortunately for us and for the science of music, Salomon induced him to visit London, where he composed his finest symphonies, and where, by studying the works of Handel, he acquired new ideas of the sublimity of his art, which gave birth to his oratorios of the Creation and the Seasons.

There are several interesting details of his residence in England, for which we must refer to the work itself; but we are unwilling to omit an anecdote connected with this period, which shews the natural turn of his mind for simple melody. He one day shewed our author a little blotted journal, in which was inserted a hymn that he had heard in St. Paul's, sung in unison by four thousand children. This simple and natural air,' added he, gave me the


greatest pleasure I ever received from the performance of music.' This hymn, or rather chant, is inserted in the volume before us, with a judicious note by the author of the Sacred Melodies,' pointing out an elegance, not in the original air, which it has acquired in passing through the mind of Haydn.

Haydn revisited London in 1794.

'On this occasion,' says the author, one of the English princes commissioned Sir Joshua Reynolds to take his portrait. Haydn went to the painter's house, and sat to him, but soon grew tired. Sir Joshua, careful of his reputation, would not paint a man of acknowledged genius with a stupid countenance, and deferred the sitting till another day. The same weariness and want of expression occurring at the next attempt, Reynolds went to his Royal Highness and informed him of the circumstance, who contrived a stratagem. He sent to the painter's house a pretty German girl, in the service of the Queen. Haydn took his seat for the third time, and as soon as the conversation began to flag, a curtain rose, and the fair German addressed him in his native language, with a most elegant compliment. Haydn, delighted, overwhelmed the enchantress with questions; his countenance recovered its animation, and Sir Joshua rapidly seized its traits.'-p. 195.

This exquisite adventure, which is truly French in all its parts, has already made the tour of half the periodical publications of Europe, and is even now, perhaps, on the eve of appearing on the Parisian stage as a melodrame of high pathos and sentiment. It is a thousand pities to blight so promising a spring of amusement; but truth compels us to the inexorable office. The whole story, in fact, is a ridiculous fabrication. Sir Joshua Reynolds had been nearly three years in his grave at this period; and the person to whom Haydn sat for his portrait, was the late Mr. Hoppner; who, if he had languished for a conversation in his native tongue,' was very capable of gratifying him.

We knew Haydn, and well remember the circumstance of his sitting for his picture. He was a coarse and hard-featured man ; who, among other amiable weaknesses, cherished that of conceiting himself to be somewhat of an Adonis. He would sit with exemplary patience to be painted; but no birth-day beauty was ever more solicitous to choose the favourable moment. Many a time, when an hour had been fixed for his attendance, he would get up from his chair, gaze steadfastly and wistfully in the glass, and 'I don't tink I look vell to-day; I vill not see Maister Hovner;' and Salomon was accordingly dispatched with his excuses. The picture was not quite finished when Haydn left England; it was, however, so striking a likeness of this extraordinary man, that the Prince of Wales, for whom it was painted, would not permit Hoppner to touch it after his departure, and the portrait is now in his Royal Highness's possession.



Haydn returned to Germany with a fortune which, to a man of his few wants and retired habits, must have appeared inexhaustible. This was afterwards increased by the produce of a few concerts in Germany, and by the sale of the scores of his oratorios of the Creation and the Seasons; with which he purchased a small house and garden in the neighbourhood of Vienna, where he finally retired from the pursuits and anxieties of life. Our author's first interview with him in his retreat is thus described.

'At the extremity of one of the suburbs of Vienna, on the side of the imperial park of Schönbrunn, you find a small unpaved street, so little frequented, that it is covered with grass. About the middle, rises an humble dwelling surrounded by perpetual silence. You knock at the door; it is opened to you with a cheerful smile, by a little old woman, his housekeeper. You ascend a short flight of wooden stairs, and find, in the second chamber of a very simple apartment, a tranquil old man, sitting at a desk, absorbed in the painful sentiment that life is escaping from him, and so complete a non-entity with respect to every thing besides, that he stands in need of visitors to recall to him what he has once been. When he sees any one enter, a pleasing smile appears upon his lips, a tear moistens his eyes, his countenance recovers its animation, his voice becomes clear, he recognizes his guest, and talks to him of his early years, of which he has a much better recollection than of his latter ones. You think that the artist still exists; but soon he relapses before your eyes into his habitual state of lethargy and sad


This is a melancholy picture; it wants the only relief of which such a state is capable, the consolations of religion; and being most injudiciously introduced in the very beginning of the volume, it gave us, we confess, an unfavourable impression of Haydn at our first interview; and cast a damp over all the subsequent anecdotes of his early life; for it was not till the very end of the memoirs that we discovered that his habits were become those of a scrupulously religious man. At the commencement of all his scores, he wrote In nomine Domini,' or Soli Deo Gloria,' and at their conclusion Laus Deo;' and he always felt that his talent was increased by giving it this direction. He once said to our author, When I was employed upon the Creation, I felt myself so penetrated with religious feeling, that before I sat down to the piano-forte, I prayed to God with earnestness, that he would enable me to praise him worthily.'

Haydn's loyal and patriotic feelings were no less ardent than his sense of religion. His faculties never recovered the shock which they experienced, in the seventy-eighth year of his age, during the siege of Vienna by the French. His friends attempted in vain to persuade him to leave his beloved retreat; and during the cannonade that began in the suburb actually surrounding his humble dwelling,

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the old man rose from his seat, and with a dignified air demanded of his terrified attendants, Why this terror? no disaster can come where Haydn is?' A convulsive shivering seized him; but being afterwards carried to the piano-forte, he saug, till his strength was exhausted, his national hymn of God preserve the Emperor.' A fatal stupor succeeded this last act of enthusiasm.

Biography is a melancholy study. We delight to trace the gradually unfolding faculties of infancy; the eager curiosity of boyhood; the confidence of youth; the alternate disappointments and success that checker the course of manhood; and we bow with reverence to the experience of age. But at length, the scene is generally closed, amidst the contemplation of disease and mental decay, decrepitude and death. The man is soon forgotten, while the author alone lives in the estimation of congenial minds. Haydn will be remembered by his works, as long as true taste in music shall exist; and his admirers will always be gratified on discovering that an artist, who has contributed so much to one of the purest of our sources of pleasure, was an amiable, benevolent, patriotic, and pious man.

His last reception by the public may shed a parting ray over his memory. An hundred and sixty musicians were assembled at the palace of Prince Lobkowitz to perform Haydn's oratorio of the Creation.

6 The poor old man, notwithstanding his weakness, was desirous of seeing once more that public for whom he had so long laboured. He was carried into the room in an easy chair. The Princess Esterhazy, and his friend Madame de Kurzbeck, went to meet him. The flourishes of the orchestra and still more the agitation of the spectators announced his arrival. He was placed in the middle of three rows of seats, destined for his friends, and for all that was illustrious in Vienna. Salieni, who directed the orchestra, came to receive Haydn's orders before they began. They embraced; Salieni left him, flew to his place, and the orchestra commenced amidst the general emotion. It may easily be judged, whether this religious music would appear sublime to an audience whose hearts were affected by the sight of a great man about to depart out of life. Surrounded by the great, by his friends, by the artists of his profession, and by charming women, of whom every eye was fixed upon him, Haydn bad a glorious adieu to the world and to life.

The Chevalier Capellini, a physician of the first rank, observed that Haydn's legs were not sufficiently covered. Scarcely had he given an intimation to those who stood around, than the most beautiful shawls left their charming wearers to assist in warming the beloved old man.

Haydn, whom so much glory and affection had caused to shed tears more than once, felt himself faint at the end of the first part. His chair was brought. At the moment of leaving the room he ordered the chairmen to stop; thanked the public first, by an inclination of his


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