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Haydn's Fame extending--Haydn and Mozart compared--Esterhaz--Its Puppet Theatre--A
Busy Life--Opera at Esterhaz--First Oratorio-- Opponents and Intriguers--"L'Isola
Disabitata"--A Love Episode-- Correspondence with Artaria and Forster--Royal
Dedicatees-- The "Seven Words"--The "Toy" and "Farewell" Symphonies.
To crowd the details of a professional career covering close upon a quarter of a century
into a single chapter would, in the case of most of the great composers, be an altogether
impossible task. In Haydn's case the difficulty is to find the material for even so slight a
record. His life went on smoothly, almost sleepily, as we should now think, in the service
of his prince, without personal incident and with next to no disturbance from the outside
world. If he had not been a genius of the first rank the outside world would, in all
probability, never have heard of his existence.
Haydn's Fame extending
As it was, his fame was now manifestly spreading. Thus the Wiener Diarum for 1766
includes him among the most distinguished musicians of Vienna, and describes him as
"the darling of our nation." His amiable disposition, says the panegyrist, "speaks through
every one of his works. His music has beauty, purity, and a delicate and noble simplicity
which commends it to every hearer. His cassations, quartets and trios may be compared
to a pure, clear stream of water, the surface now rippled by a gentle breeze from the
south, and anon breaking into agitated billows, but without ever leaving its proper
channel and appointed course. His symphonies are full of force and delicate sympathy. In
his cantatas he shows himself at once captivating and caressing, and in his minuets he is
delightful and full of humour. In short, Haydn is in music what Gellert is in poetry." This
comparison with Gellert, who died three years later, was at that date, as Dr Pohl remarks,
the most flattering that could well be made. The simplicity and naturalness of Gellert's
style were the very antithesis of the pedantries and frigid formalities of the older school;
and just as he pioneered the way for the resuscitation of German poetry under Goethe and
Schiller, so Haydn may be said to have prepared the path for Beethoven and the modern
Haydn and Mozart compared
Very likely it was this comparison of the magazine writer that suggested Dittersdorf's
remark to Joseph II in 1786, when the emperor requested him to draw an analogy
between Haydn's and Mozart's chamber music. Dittersdorf shrewdly replied by asking the
emperor in his turn to draw a parallel between Gellert and Klopstock; whereupon Joseph
made answer by saying that both were great poets, but that Klopstock's works required
attentive study, while Gellert's beauties were open to the first glance. The analogy,
Dittersdorf tells us, "pleased the emperor very much." Its point is, however, not very
clear--that is to say, it is not very clear whether the emperor meant to compare Klopstock
with Haydn and Gellert with Mozart or vice versa, and whether, again, he regarded it as
more of a merit that the poet and the composer should require study or be "open to the