Haydn

Haydn

Haydn

Haydn

Excerpt

When Joseph Haydn was presented to King George III of England, the latter said to him by way of compliment 'You have composed a great deal, Dr. Haydn'. He replied, with the modesty that was natural to him, 'Yes, sire, rather more than was wise'. In the course of a long and always industrious life, he had, indeed, written so much that he no longer remembered many of his works. Some of his manuscripts had been lost. He knew that the duties of office and the importunity of admirers had wrung from him many a hasty page, and in the end he came to attribute real importance to a part only of his work, that part upon which his success and fame undoubtedly rested.

As his followers continued in the path where he had been a pioneer, they and the public gradually allowed him to drop out of sight; and thus, with the passing of each decade, his work figured less and less prominently in the general memory. In theory, the place which he occupies in the line of great musicians, between Bach and Beethoven, is not contested. But in practice, owing to the comparatively rare performance of his works, knowledge of them has been confined within the narrow limits which convention lays down as a necessary minimum for acquaintance with a poet or an artist. With an air of disdain, our contemporaries are pleased to rank Haydn among the classics of youth, and imagine that, in order to like him, one must be in one's first or second childhood. Beginners have a frank affection for him. They look upon him as a cheerful grandparent who can tell pretty stories. When they reach the age at which man seeks in a work of art the reflection of his troubled soul, they turn away from a happy, peaceful, equable master, who has never felt the uncertainty of fate or the storms of passion. Those alone can listen to him attentively . . .

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