1791-1795 London Journey
In August 1793 Haydn signed the contract for his new house at
Gumpendorf near Vienna, which his wife had found during his stay
in England. Joseph Haydn bought the single storey house from
master weaver Ignaz Weissgram and extended it by another floor.
It was only after his second trip to England that he occupied the new
house and lived there until his death: from March 1800 as a
widower. On 1 June 1840 a marble plaque was affixed with the
inscription "To Haydn". Today this house is the Viennese Haydn
1792: Emperor Ludwig II. died.
France declared war on Austria.
1793: King Ludwig XVI. of France and Marie Antoinette executed.
In January 1794 , Haydn, together with Johann Elssler (1769-1843)
his copyist and servant, travelled for the second time to England.
The concert season of spring 1794 was again a success. The
"Military Symphony" , which was to become the most popular of his
symphonies during his life was performed for the first time. Haydn
made further contacts with English publishers during his stay. The
number of compositions which Haydn wrote for his two London visits
would be notable lifetime achievement for any other composer. He
wrote about 280 single compositions, amongst them the opera
"Orpheus", the "12 London Symphonies", over 200 songs and
several string quartets and piano concertos.
On 1st February 1795 Haydn received the great honour of being
accepted into the programmes of "Ancient Concerts". He was the only
composer to be so honoured during his lifetime. Now he found entry to
the concerts of the English King George III. (1738-1820) to whom he
was introduced by Prince George of Wales (1762-1830). In spring of
1795 Joseph Haydn played, conducted and sung on various occasions
for the Royal Family and at concerts, which the Prince of Wales (from
1820 King George IV.) held at Carlton House. King George III. and
Queen Charlotte tried to persuade Haydn to stay longer in England
and offered him a suite of rooms at Windsor.
In August 1791 Prince Paul Anton II. Esterhazy expressed the wish
that Haydn would return to Eisenstadt. Haydn however still had to
fulfil contractual obligations and only left the British Isles after two
successful concert seasons at the end of June 1792 . He travelled
via Bonn, where he met the talented young Ludwig van Beethoven
(1770-1827), to Vienna. It was agreed that Beethoven should come
to Haydn in Vienna to study composition and counterpoint. However,
after a few lessons there was a separation between teacher and
pupil. Haydn's favourite students were Ignaz Pleyel (1757-1831)
and Sigismund Neukomm (1778-1858).
Until the beginning of the next concert season Joseph Haydn lived
a secluded life and gave private lessons to Rebecca Schroeter , a
wealthy widow. During the first stay in England a deep bond between
Haydn and his pupil developed. Her letters, which Haydn copied
into his notebook, documented her passionate feelings for the
great composer: "No language can only half express what love and
devotion I feel towards you". Haydn was a frequent guest at Mrs
Schroeter's, who, with extreme care, was concerned about the
physical and bodily well-being of the master. During his second
stay in London, Haydn lived very near Rebecca Schroeter and in
later years dedicated his "Trios op.73" to her as a mark of his
During the week of 23 May to 1 June 1791 Haydn attended the "Händel
Festival" at Westminster Abbey, which was held annually under the
Patronage of the King. No other event impressed the composer more
than this gigantic commemoration, which formed the highlight of
English social life. For the first time, Haydn heard Handel's choral
music "Israel in Egypt", "Esther", "Saul" and, as the pinnacle of the
Festival, "The Messiah". At the conclusion of an immensely successful
first concert season, and on the recommendation of the music historian
Charles Burney (1726-1816), in July 1791 Haydn was bestowed with
a honorary Doctorate of Music from the University of Oxford (UK).
The festive ceremony lasted 3 days and was held at the Sheldonian
Theatre at Oxford.
"My name is Salomon and I am from London (UK) and have come to
fetch you: tomorrow we will conclude a contract", that is how Haydn
told his biographer Dies of that decisive moment, which forms the
beginning of his trips to England. For the substantial sum of 5000
guilders, Haydn agreed to compose one Italian opera, six new
symphonies, 20 other compositions and to conduct them at their
performances. Johann Peter Salomon (1745-1815), a brilliant
violonist and successful concert promoter, immediately notified
the English audience of Haydn's imminent arrival. To Mozart's
objection that he did not speak the language, Haydn replied:
"My language is understood throughout the world!" (Dies).
After an ardous journey via Munich - Wallenstein - Bonn - Calais,
Joseph Haydn stepped onto English soil on 1 January 1791 . Seven
days later he wrote a letter to Marianne von Genzinger: "... my arrival
caused a great sensation throughout the entire city and for three
successive days I was mentioned in all newspapers; everyone is
eager to know me." A great sensation was caused by the fact that
during a Royal Court Ball at St James's Palace Haydn was greeted
by the Prince of Wales with a noticeable bow. The first series of
concerts started on 11 March with a concert at the "Hanover Square
Rooms" and were continued weekly until 3 June. These concerts
were great social events of the first order and invitations were
mostly directed towards the aristocracy.