Enjoy chamber music presented by members of the Clinton Symphony Orchestra on our Musical Friendships concert on Sunday, November 10, at 3:00 pm at Zion Lutheran Church in Clinton, Iowa. The second piece on the concert will be:
Piano Trio in C Major, Hob.XV;27
Nadia Wirchnianski, piano
Asa Church, violin • David Spaulding, violoncello
Please enjoy the following program notes about the composer and piece:
Seventeen ninety was a watershed year for Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). In that one year Haydn’s life and fortune were turned upside down. Emperor Joseph II died on February 20, 1790, an event that threw Austria and its empire into a period of prolonged mourning. Less than a week later, the wife of his patron and employer Nicolaus Esterházy died; Haydn spent a good deal of his time trying to console the desolate Nicolaus, but Nicolaus himself succumbed by the end of September, to be succeeded by his brother, Anton. Anton, seeking to save on expenses at an uncertain time, released nearly all of the court musicians, and relegated Haydn to a part-time position with commiserate pay. Anton, to Haydn’s delight, had little use for his services and permitted Haydn to travel as he saw fit. Haydn wasted little time in using his new-found semi-independence and rented an apartment in Vienna. At long last he was away from his isolated existence at Esterházy and free to mingle in an appreciative society and to engage in commerce with his Viennese counterparts.
Haydn was the most famous and most sought after composer in Europe in his time; thus when London impresario Johann Peter Salomon, in Germany searching for music talent to import to England, heard that Haydn might be available, he pounced, only to find a surprisingly responsive Haydn. The composer had entertained an English tour for more than a decade, but his duties as kapellmeister at Esterházy had prevented him from such an undertaking. Now, he could undertake a tour without fear of antagonizing his new patron. And Salomon assured him that the English public revered his music above all others, and, more important, that he would be richly rewarded.
Salomon’s contract with Haydn covered one year, but the demand for Haydn’s presence in London and the desire for more of his compositions brought about a one-year extension and eventually to another residence during the 1894-95 music seasons. Haydn made enough money during these two tours to finally give him the peace of mind in his final years that only financial security can bring.
Haydn was a short man, unhandsome, with a large aquiline nose disfigured by polypus, a condition he suffered much of his adult life. A survivor of smallpox, his face was pitted with the marks of that disease. Consequently, Haydn himself was amazed that so many pretty women seem to find him attractive. “They couldn’t have been led to it by my beauty,” he confessed to one early biographer.
Not long after arriving in London in 1791, Haydn received a letter from Mrs. Schroeter; she invited him to give her a music lesson “whenever it is convenient.” Haydn accepted the offer, and, thus, began a relationship that lasted beyond his second visit in 1794-95. At least twenty-two letters passed between the two during Haydn’s sojourns in the English capital. Letters from Mrs. Schroeter to Haydn clearly indicate that their relationship passed beyond the platonic to the intimate. The copies of the letters are in Haydn’s handwriting and were discovered by his biographer Albert Christoph Dies in Haydn’s “second London notebook.” Dies further reported in his 1810 biography of the musical giant, that Haydn had admitted his affection for a widow in London “who loved me…a beautiful and charming woman and I would have married her very easily if I had been free at the time.”
On most evenings that he was not otherwise engaged in concerts or meetings, Haydn dined with Mrs. Schroeter at her residence. Surprisingly, the two carried on their romance beyond the prying eyes and ears of London gossips; friends may have been aware, but no broad reports ever surfaced about the “old man and the young widow.” After Haydn’s departure in 1895, Mrs. Schroeter looked after some of his business affairs and was an initial subscriber to his self-published oratorio The Creation. Although they never met again, some scholars conjecture that they kept in touch with each other, possibly up to the time of Haydn’s death in 1809.
The Piano Trio in C major, Hob XV:27 is from a set of three such trios, written not for Lady Schroeter, but for another lady of Haydn’s acquaintance, Therese Jansen. Haydn had met the accomplished amateur pianist during his London visits. She was a favorite student of composer Muzio Clementi and was considered a piano teacher of note in her own right. She did not perform publicly, but did participate in private music-making among friends. Haydn dedicated two of his piano sonatas to her, as well. This trio signals that she must have been quite a fine performer.
~Program notes by William Driver