Get Nrdly Free Trial Built with Nrdly

A Song for Haydn

In the 1780s, Haydn published two sets of Lieder (songs). The first set of twelve folk-songs was published by Artaria in 1781, and the second set in 1784. Both sets were published on two staves, since the vocal line was replicated in the right hand of the piano.

From this fact and the simple rhythms and harmonies of these works, music scholars have deduced the works were written for the amateur performers who showcased their talents in the musical salons that were becoming something of a trend in Viennese society at the time.

Publishers and composers alike catered to this burgeoning market of amateur musicians. And Haydn, a household name by this time, would have been much in demand—both for his presence and his music. Haydn enjoyed interacting with music lovers and amateur performers. Most scholars believe the decision to replicate the vocal line in the right hand of the piano was to aid the singer.

But I am convinced, Haydn was thinking of the amateur pianist. From his contact with amateur pianists, he would have realized that it is far more pleasurable to play an instrumental version of a song that incorporates its melody rather than an accompaniment that provides no more than harmonic support to the vocal line.

One of his correspondents, Marianne von Genzinger, the wife of the Esterházy court physician, frequently transcribed his symphonies for piano, always sending Haydn a copy of her efforts. Haydn would look these over, returning them with his comments.

He, in turn, sent her works for keyboard, and eagerly awaited her own remarks as to their difficulty. When in Vienna, he often attended the musical soirées that she organized, and took great interest in her children’s musical education.

Another music-loving friend was Franz Sales von Greiner, a Habsburg court official whose musical salons attracted composers such as Mozart and Salieri, in addition to Haydn. It was Greiner who advised Haydn on the choice of texts to set to music for his sets of Lieder.

I have often wondered whether he did not look back on those years of struggle in Vienna, when it must have seemed that his dreams were:

            Waiting for [him]; ghosts with no home.
            Yearning to be; destined to roam.

While he was still struggling to gain a foothold in the musical world, his middle brother Michael had already secured a good position with the Bishop of Grosswardein in Hungary. Later Michael would move on to the Archbishop of Salzburg where he would encounter the Mozarts, father and son.

Haydn’s parents, his mother, in particular, was anxious for him to go into the church, which would have provided a secure living to one of his musical talents. Fortunately, Haydn resisted, always believing that his dreams were:

            Waiting for [him]; ghosts that still roam.
            Yearning to be; they’ll find a home.
                                    They’ll find a home.

And, it’s in this spirit that I offer up “Ghosts with no Home,” a song for cello and piano. Although cello takes the vocal line, it is, as in Haydn’s Lieder, replicated in the top part of the piano. To listen to the piece, click on the link—Ghosts with no Home

The score is up on http://ntustin.musicaneo.com/sheetmusic/

folk songs, Franz Sales von Greiner, Ghosts with no home, Haydn, Lieder, music salons

  1. Kaye George says:

    Another fascinating post! Thanks for the research, the information, and the music, too!

  2. Nupur says:

    Thanks, Kaye. Glad you found the post interesting.

  3. KB Inglee says:

    I love these posts. I am no musician, but I am a dedicated listener, and have always loved the look behind the curtain at the person behind the music.

  4. Nupur says:

    Understanding the person behind the music does enhance your appreciation of it, KB. I love doing the research, and since not all of it can go into the books, these posts are a nice way to share what I’ve learned. Glad you’re enjoying them.

  5. cj petterson says:

    Outstanding, Nupur! Your views into the inner workings of famous people is fascinating, and your musical coda perfect. Where in the world do you do you research? I’m thoroughly awed. Marilyn (aka cj)

  6. Nupur Tustin says:

    Thanks, Marilyn! There are a number of excellent biographies of Haydn. The most interesting, I think, are the portraits that Georg August Griesinger and Albert Christoph Dies compiled from the anecdotes that Haydn, then an old man, recollected for them. There’s an English translation of these contemporary accounts by Vernon Gotwals. The most up-to-date and, in my view, accurate account is by musicologist David Wyn Jones.

  7. Kate Collier says:

    Haunting song! I enjoyed listening . . . and reading the fruits of your research, as always! –kate

  8. Nupur says:

    Thanks, Kate!

  9. Wonderful post! (Sorry, I’m a bit late to the party…). You always offer such fascinating insight. All best.

Leave a Reply to Micki BrowningCancel reply