Haydn Society director Denis McCaldin recently spoke to fortepianist Daniel Maltz about Haydn’s visits to London. The discussion – conducted online, such is the custom in late, coronavirus-gripped 2020 – forms part of Maltz’s ‘Classical Cake’ series of discussions, in which the participants leaven their chat by sharing a cake. It’s appropriate that professor McCaldin has chosen a Lancastrian eccles cake for his edition, given his stewardship of the music department of Lancaster University until 2000.
Read more about this episode and the series via Classical Cake, or watch the video below:
Today, May the 31st, is the day of the year on which Haydn died in 1809. It is also by chance the 200th anniversary year of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy II moving Haydn’s body to its final resting place on the Eisenstadt estate.
It is strange to think of the year 1809, and Haydn’s last days in Vienna, when the city was being overrun by Napoleon’s army, as having a link with our present Coronavirus invasion.
Yet the parallels are there. Today we are living in a time of self-isolation, as Haydn was then.
In his case, confinement was dominated by two factors, and both resonate with us today as being more complex than simple restraint (or curfew).
Firstly, there was the personal element of an effective house arrest dictated by his own old age. Haydn had less than a month to live at the end of a long life and he had what today’s media refer to, pointedly, as ‘underlying health issues’. The second was imposed by the Emperor himself – who posted two sentries outside the composer’s house in Gumpendorf to protect Haydn from contact with the turbulent world outside.
Like us, he was a prisoner in his own house and almost devoid of social contact. He softened his own loneliness by comforting his live-in servants with the words, ‘Children, don’t be frightened; where Haydn is, nothing can happen to you’. So it is perhaps not too fanciful to see this story as history repeating itself in our own turbulent times. Haydn was truly a man for all seasons.
It’s come later than we would have wanted but we’re very pleased that the 38th Haydn Society of Great Britain Journal has now been published. Inside you will find a broad range of articles to pique your interest, from performance reports to CD reviews and some diverse articles.
Happy New Year! Ours has been a busy one as we have moved home. This does have consequences for the 2019 Haydn Society Journal, whose publication has been pushed back until such time as we can re-order the forty-years-worth of accumulated Haydn Society paraphernalia that has been part of this sizeable operation. In the meantime keep an eye out here and on our social media for news as the year progresses.