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Meet the Composer - Franz Josef Haydn

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ime to fire up the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space) again. Piloting is Dr. Bill Leland, pianist, with a little help from K-9, the Doctor's super-smart mechanical dog. We've materialized in Vienna in the year 1795. With Dr. Bill and K-9's usual skill, we find that we have been plopped down right in the middle of the parlor of the home of the great composer, Franz Josef ("Papa") Haydn. Let's listen in as Anke and her brother, Ernst, two Austrian piano students, talk with Haydn."I'm not programmed to bark, master"


(Message from Gallifrey: If your sound is on, you're hearing Haydn's Piano Sonata No.33 in D, 1st movement (Allegro) now. If not, you can listen to it by clicking on the title. (MIDI sequence by M.Weimer)

Franz Josef Haydn

Franz Josef Haydn

born March 31, 1732, died May 31, 1809
(painting from 1791)


Anke: Maestro, I hope it's not a bother to see us right now--you look awfully tired.

Haydn: Oh, it's no trouble at all, I'm happy to see you--but, it's true, I am very tired, because I just got back from London.

Ernst: What were you doing there?

Haydn: Ah--what wasn't I doing! This was my second trip! Mr. Salomon, the biggest impressario in England, asked me to come five years ago, and then, when I came home, he asked me to come again!

Anke: Did you write music there?

Haydn: Did I! Only twelve symphonies, two oratorios, three piano sonatas, a few string quartets, and some other things. Plus, I conducted many concerts, taught some students, played harpsichord, piano and viola, gave speeches, and went to what seemed like a thousand dinners and parties they gave for me.

Ernst: But that sounds like fun!

Haydn: Oh, it was! The people were very generous and enthusiastic, and I had a wonderful time. But it was still exhausting!

Anke: Mr. Haydn, my teacher told me you once lived in a big palace; are you rich?

Haydn: No, my dear, but I once worked for a prince and his brother, and they were extremely rich.

Ernst: Who were they?

Haydn: Princes of the famous Esterhazy family, and much of the year we stayed at their palace, Esterhaza, just outside of Vienna. It's one of the most glorious palaces in Europe.

Ernst: I've seen that! Wow! You worked there?

Haydn: Oh yes--for 29 years. Prince Nicholas was my boss most of that time, and that was lucky for me because he loved music and was willing to spend a lot of money on it. We had two concert halls, an opera house, a marionette theater, and all the players and singers I needed.

Anke: A marionette theater? You mean for puppet shows?

Haydn: That's right. Prince Nicholas loved puppet shows, so I wrote six operas for the marionette theater. The orchestra and singers hid under the stage, and we would perform the music while the puppets did the acting.

Ernst: Was the Prince a singer, too? Somebody told me he was a baritone.

Haydn: Not quite. You see, he played the baryton (it's pronounced the same, but spelled differently). The baryton is a large string instrument that's played like a bass viol. I spent many hours teaching and playing baryton duets with him, and several composers wrote compositions for him.

Anke: Did you write some also?

Haydn: More than 175; a lot of them are duets for two barytons, and if you saw them you'd probably notice that one part was a good deal easier than the other--(winks)--I'll let you guess why.

Ernst: Was Prince Nicholas the one who nicknamed you "Papa"?

Haydn: (laughs) Now where did you hear that? No, I think that got started in Vienna. I suspect it was Mozart--he was full of jokes and mischief. But he was a wonderful friend, and surely the greatest genius ever; we lost him just four years ago.

Anke: We didn't mean to end on such a sad note. But we'll go now; you're very tired. Thank you for visiting with us, Master.

Haydn: You're most welcome--please come again.





I made this on: 9/29/98
Newest stuff added: 02/04/16
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Reprinting from the Piano Education Page The Piano Education Page, Op. 10, No. 1,
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