A new way of looking at things
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of looking at things.” –  Henry Miller

Curt Veeneman, Ph.D.


Papa Haydn Part 1

28 February 2014

“Haydn is like a child, for there is no knowing what he will do next.”

— the poet John Keats (1795–1821), in a comment made in 1820 to the painter Joseph Severn (1793–1879)


Thomas Hardy (1757-c. 1805): Portrait of Joseph Haydn, 1791, Royal College of Music Museum of Instruments, London

(photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) {{PD}}



When Joseph Haydn was born in 1732, Vienna was barely on the musical map, having primarily three composers of which to boast:  Johann Fux (1660–1741), most famous for his treatise on counterpoint, Gradus ad Parnassum (still used, in one form or another, in some music programs today), Johann Georg Reutter (1708–1772), who would become Kapellmeister of St. Stephen's Cathedral and later court Kapellmeister, and in a much earlier era, Marx Augustin (1643-1685 or 1705), who after a bizarre brush with the plague, penned the ditty "Ach du lieber Augustin."

 However, by the time  Haydn died in 1809, Vienna was in a musical ferment.  Not only did Haydn live and compose in this city, but so did the Bavarian Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714–1787; Konzertmeister and later Kapellmeister to Prince Joseph Friedrich von Sachsen-Hildburghausen), the Italian Antonio Salieri (1750–1825; composer for the Habsburg Monarchy), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791; who moved to Vienna from Salzburg), Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827; who moved to Vienna from Bonn, Germany), and Franz Schubert (1797–1828; a Viennese native).

And then, into the scene waltzed Joseph Lanner (1801–1843) and all those Strausses — Johann Strauss I (1804–1849) and his sons Johann Strauss II (1825–1899; he’s the one who composed The Blue Danube waltz), Josef Strauss (1827–1870), and Eduard Strauss (1835–1916).  After them came several heavy-weights, including Anton Bruckner (1824–1896) from Linz, Johannes Brahms (1833–1897) from Hamburg, Gustav Mahler (1860–1911) from Bohemia, and the so-called Zweite Wiener Schule (Second Viennese School), comprised of Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951) and his pupils  Alban Berg (1885–1935) and Anton Webern (1883–1945).

In addition to these composers, by the first decades of the twentieth century Vienna had also become a magnet for artists, architects, and philosophers befitting the center of an empire, such as the painter Richard Gerstl (1883–1908), the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928–2000), the Vienna Secession artist Gustav Klimt (1862–1918), the painter Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980), the architect Adolf Loos (1870–1933), the painter Egon Schiele (1890–1918), the Jugendstil architect Otto Wagner (1841–1918), the philosopher, psychologist and founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), and the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951).

Now, back to the year 1832.


Haydn’s Childhood and Youth

In the little village of Rohrau, Lower Austria (see map below), Franz Joseph Haydn (his full name) was born to Mathias Haydn, a wheelwright, and Anna Koller Haydn, a cook in the palace of Count Harrach.  Although his parents could not read music, the family was musical; the father played harp and they often sang with their neighbors.  Of the 12 children, two others besides Joseph would also become musicians — the composer Michael Haydn (1737–1806) and the tenor Johann ("Hansl") Evangelist Haydn (1743–1805). 


To highlight any of these locations in which Joseph Haydn lived, roll your cursor over the name of the city or village.


When Johann Matthias Frankh, a distant relative who was a schoolmaster and choral director, perceived Haydn's talent it was decided that he be apprenticed to Frankh.  At the age of six Haydn moved to nearby Hainburg to live with Frankh, never to live with his parents again.  While there Haydn sang in the church choir and learned to play the violin and harpsichord, two instruments that he would play for the rest of his life in various capacities.  "When my comrades were playing," he said, "I used to take my little clavier under my arm, and go out where I would be undisturbed so as to practice by myself."


Stipple engraving after an ink drawing by A. Ecker:  Portrait of Johann Georg Reutter (1708-1772).

(photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) {{PD}}

When Haydn was seven, the Kapellmeister of St. Stephen's Cathedral, Johann Georg Reutter, passed through Hainburg and heard him sing.  He said “Bravo!” and threw some cherries into young Haydn’s hat.  Within a year Haydn moved to Vienna to become a chorister at St. Stephen's Cathedral, soon to be joined by his younger brother, Michael.  The choirboys (there were five in all) lived with the Reutter family in the Kapellhaus next to the cathedral, and their education included reading, writing, arithmetic, and Latin.

Bernardo Bellotto, called Canaletto (1721-1780):  Wien, vom Belvedere aus gesehen (1758/61), in which the tower of St Stephens Cathedral is seen in the center. Kunsthistoisches Museum, Vienna.


Haydn told his biographer Albert Christoph Dies that the choristers were poorly fed and that his motivation  to sing well lay in the invitations to perform before nobility—where the singers were provided with refreshments.

However, Haydn could be rambunctious.  When reconstruction work was being done at the Imperial Chapel, Haydn and the other choristers would scamper around on the scaffolding.  Once the Empress Maria Theresa herself saw the boys playing around and sent a Court official to "give that fair-haired blockhead a good thrashing."  Years later, when Haydn was Kapellmeister to Prince Esterházy, he jokingly thanked the Empress for this royal favor.


the nave ot Stephansdom


Soon his voice began to break and he knew his days as a chorister would end. Even the Empress noticed, commenting that "young Haydn sings like a crow."  Then, around 1750, ever the practical joker, Haydn cut off the ponytail of a fellow chorus member.  He was caned and dismissed, having nowhere to live.  With "three wretched shirts and a worn-out coat," he became a “street serenader,” but soon crossed paths with a composer who took him in as a student.

He moved into the Michaelerhaus, which was attached to the Michaelerkirche in Vienna.  He lived in an unheated garret with the family of Johann Michael Spangler, a singer at the church with whom Haydn had performed previously.  "For eight long years I was forced to knock about wretchedly, giving lessons to the young," he wrote.  He also performed at events such as weddings and baptisms, and made arrangements of musical works for hire. Curiously, his neighbors in the same building included Princess Maria Esterházy (mother of Prince Paul Anton and Prince Nicolaus, both of whom Haydn would later serve) and the poet Metastasio (1698–1782), whose libretti were used in operas by Mozart and Gluck, and possibly setting a record, one libretto by Metastasio (Adriano in Siria) was set by 50 different composers.


Michaelerkirche, Vienna



Early Career

Haydn was largely self-taught in music theory and composition, studying from the theoretical books available at the time.

Eventually he became a valet to Niccolo Porpora, a famous singer of the time.  In addition to powdering his wig and polishing his boots, Haydn served as Porpora’s accompanist.  As Porpora worked for the mistress of the Venetian ambassador Correr, and when she went to the spa at Mannersdorf for the summer, Haydn met a number of important composers there, including Gluck, Wagenseil, and Bonno.

In 1757 Haydn was appointed music director to the Bohemian Count Morzin, who in summers employed an orchestra at his country estate in Dolní Lukavice (in the modern Czech Republic).  Winters were spent in Vienna.

Then love struck.  One of Haydn’s students, Therese Keller, the daughter of a wig-maker, had captured his heart.  To Haydn’s dismay, she decided to become a nun.  But her father was resourceful and, in an ancient bait-and-switch tactic offered, "Never mind, you shall have my other daughter."  Maria Anna was three years older than Haydn, and they were married in 1760.  (Curiously, Mozart would later marry the sister of his first choice, too.)

Unfortunately, Haydn’s new wife was soon described as "a regular Xantippe [wife of Socrates, noted for her harshness]; heartless, unsociable, quarrelsome, extravagant, and bigoted."  Giuseppe Carpani, who knew the couple, wrote that she was "not pretty nor yet ugly," adding that her manners "were immaculate, but she had a wooden head, and when she had fixed on a caprice there was no way to change it." 

It was not a happy marriage.  Haydn said that as far as she was concerned, it did not matter whether he were an artist or a shoemaker.  She used his music manuscripts as hair-curling papers and for making pastry.

However, a major change was in the works for both Joseph Haydn and his wife.  In 1761, Haydn’s employment with Count Morzin came to an end and soon he became Vice-Kapellmeister to the Esterházys, whom he would serve for thirty years.




 This blog entry, due to its equal relevance to Austria and to Hungary, has been posted under both of those thread headings.

The photographs used in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are by Curt Veeneman.

Related Posts (Hungary)

Who started Travel Con Brio®?

Composer, scholar (in music theory, ethnomusicology, and music history), performer, educator, conference organizer, and entrepreneur, Curt Veeneman received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

His additional interests, subsumed in wonder at the beauty of God’s entire creation, include art (he was an art major before the balance tipped ever-so-slightly toward music), literature, architecture, photography, mathematics, history, languages, cultural studies, world-cuisines, and, of course, travel.
photograph by Colleen Veeneman

In founding Travel Con Brio®, Curt was eager to synthesize all of these interests to create imaginative, stirring, and enlightening experiences to be enjoyed by both young and mature travelers alike.  The tours that he organizes reflect his extensive travel experience and familiarity with the art, music and culture of numerous countries, with each tour being richly enhanced by local experts.

Curt and his wife Colleen live near San Francisco.  They have three children.

What is this blog about?

Culled from a number of trips abroad, this blog compiles various experiences in an attempt to reveal the cultural nuances of places visited on Travel Con Brio® tours.  Sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, Curt’s observations are intended to describe and appreciate the personalities, character, idiosyncrasies, conventions, mood, and ambiance of places visited.  Contemplations of topics ranging from language and customs to climate and bureaucracies are freely offered alongside art and music reviews.  Any cultural issue, if illuminating, can become the focus.

These musings on the personal impact of various cultures are offered so that you, as a traveler, may compare and contrast your own impressions with them.  Do you share a similar interest?  Do you agree with a specific conclusion?  Or is there a fine distinction to be made regarding a particular point?  You are invited to leave your comments; please, however, be respectful of other readers.

And last, a caveat:  flukes, asymmetries, and twists of fate may suggest more about Curt than about any foreign culture under discussion.

What are some of Curt Veeneman’s musical activities?

As a composer, Curt has spoken and/or his works have been performed throughout the United States, in Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Bulgaria.  He is the winner of several awards, including the ASCAP-Hubbell Award for composition.

Curt Veeneman's compositions include Les Cloches, inspired by the life of Joan of Arc (premièred by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra), The Wiry Concord for 5-string banjo, dulcimer, cimbalom, harp, harpsichord, piano, viola and percussion (available on Capstone Records), Mountain Thyme, based on Bulgarian folk music (recorded by the Sofia Symphony Orchestra), Alcuin's Riddle, for orchestra and 15 soloists who cross the “audience-river,” Hommage for voice, flute, 'cello, piano, and percussion, Windmills, computer music featuring sampled wind turbines on California's Altamont Pass, and Pneuma for solo flute, (also available on Capstone Records).

Of this last work, the following comments have been made:  “J’ai beaucoup apprécié le lyrisme et la rigueur de Pneuma pour flûte de Curt Veeneman”  (I greatly appreciate the lyricism and the precision of Curt Veeneman’s Pneuma for flute) —Gérard Condé, Le Monde, Paris, 29 August 1996; “a well written piece”  — Robert Dick, flutist, author of The Other Flute; “it is quite exciting!” — Molly Alicia Barth of eighth blackbird; and “strong and imaginative” — Jules Langert, San Francisco Classical Voice, 13 March 2006.

As a new music promoter, he directed the new music ensemble Sonor Borealis at University of Alberta, Canada, and founded and directed the concert series, PACIFIC MARKET: Fresh Music From Around The World, at the University of the Pacific.  As a performer, Curt Veeneman is recorded on Music and Arts.

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