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Vienna--The Forlorn Ex-Chorister--A Good Samaritan--Haydn Enskied--Street
Serenades--Joins a Pilgrim Party--An Unconditional Loan--"Attic" Studies--An Early
Composition-- Metastasio--A Noble Pupil--Porpora--Menial Duties--Emanuel Bach--
Haydn his Disciple--Violin Studies--Attempts at "Programme" Music--First Opera--An
Aristocratic Appointment--Taken for an Impostor--A Count's Capellmeister--Falls in
Love--Marries-- His Wife.
The Vienna into which Haydn was thus cast, a friendless and forlorn youth of seventeen,
was not materially different from the Vienna of to-day. While the composer was still
living, one who had made his acquaintance wrote of the city: "Represent to yourself an
assemblage of palaces and very neat houses, inhabited by the most opulent families of
one of the greatest monarchies in Europe--by the only noblemen to whom that title may
still be with justice applied. The women here are attractive; a brilliant complexion adorns
an elegant form; the natural but sometimes languishing and tiresome air of the ladies of
the north of Germany is mingled with a little coquetry and address, the effect of the
presence of a numerous Court...In a word, pleasure has taken possession of every heart."
This was written when Haydn was old and famous; it might have been written when his
name was yet unknown.
Vienna was essentially a city of pleasure--a city inhabited by "a proud and wealthy
nobility, a prosperous middle class, and a silent, if not contented, lower class." In 1768,
Leopold Mozart, the father of the composer, declared that the Viennese public had no
love of anything serious or sensible; "they cannot even understand it, and their theatres
furnish abundant proof that nothing but utter trash, such as dances, burlesques,
harlequinades, ghost tricks, and devils' antics will go down with them." There is, no
doubt, a touch of exaggeration in all this, but it is sufficiently near the truth to let us
understand the kind of attention which the disgraced chorister of St Stephen's was likely
to receive from the musical world of Vienna. It was Vienna, we may recall, which
dumped Mozart into a pauper's grave, and omitted even to mark the spot.
The Forlorn Ex-Chorister
Young Haydn, then, was wandering, weary and perplexed, through its streets, with
threadbare clothes on his back and nothing in his purse. There was absolutely no one to
whom he could think of turning. He might, indeed, have taken the road to Rohrau and
been sure of a warm welcome from his humble parents there. But there were good
reasons why he should not make himself a burden on them; and, moreover, he probably
feared that at home he would run some risk of being tempted to abandon his cherished
profession. Frau Haydn had not yet given up the hope of seeing her boy made a priest,
and though we have no definite information that Haydn himself felt a decided aversion to
taking orders, it is evident that he was disinclined to hazard the danger of domestic
pressure. He had now finally made up his mind that he would be a composer; but he saw