Haydn and Salomon

Image: (tripendy.com): Fertőd-Esterházy Palace, Hungary, a Baroque Palace with 126 rooms and surrounded by a large park, was built by prince Miklos Esterhazy. Today it is open for the public, who can also enjoy many musical events in the tradition of Joseph Haydn.”

From the website of the Haydn Society of Great Britain:

“Mozart & Haydn, two of Europe’s greatest composers, both came to London in the eighteenth century. Mozart’s visit was in 1764, when he and his sister performed as child prodigies for King George III. Their stay is commemorated by no fewer than three plaques, in Ebury Street, Cecil Court and Frith Street.

Haydn also paid two prolonged visits to the city, in 1791-2 and 1794-5 – but until 2015, there was no permanent marker of his visit in London.

During that time, Haydn’s contribution to English musical life was very considerable. Recognised as one of Europe’s finest musicians he enjoyed a warm reception and reciprocated with some of his most celebrated music. His famous set of ‘London’ symphonies were composed during these visits and first performed at the Hanover Square Rooms. In 1791, music historian Charles Burney recorded:

“This year was auspiciously begun, in the musical world, by the arrival in London of the illustrious Joseph Haydn . . . and on February 25, the first of Haydn’s incomparable symphonies, which was composed for the concerts of Salomon, was performed. Haydn himself presided at the pianoforte: and the sight of that renowned composer so electrified the audience, as to excite an attention and pleasure superior to any that had ever, to my knowledge, been caused by instrumental music in England. All the slow movements were encored; which never before happened, I believe, in any country.”

(Salomon and the Burneys: private patronage and a public career, Ian Woodfoeld, Ashgate Publishing 2003 p. 10)

Welcome at court, Haydn also contributed to more than twenty of the Prince of Wales’ morning chamber music concerts where his piano music and songs were regularly performed. King George III and his family encouraged him to settle in England, just as Handel had done before him.

In 2014 the Haydn Society was given permission to put up a plaque to Haydn on the site of the building where he stayed on his first visit in 1791 – 18 Great Pulteney Street, London W1. On 24 November 2014, we successfully met a fundraising goal to enable us to commission and put up the plaque. It was unveiled on 24 March 2015.”

From the website of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra:

“…the man who helped launch Haydn to his legendary status: Johann Peter Salomon.

Born and raised in Bonn, Beethoven’s hometown, Salomon was a jack of all musical trades. He was a noted violin virtuoso, composer, arranger, orchestra director and concert entrepreneur. Deeply involved in London’s music scene in the late 18th century, Salomon was doing quite well scouting and bringing talent to perform for the city’s nobility. At the same time, Haydn was reaching international prominence as the Esterhazy Court’s brilliant composer.

Naturally, Salomon wanted to lure Haydn to London. He sent a well-known music publisher, John Bland, to purchase scores from the composer in an attempt to convince him to visit the city. Bland’s trip failed. Haydn was extremely happy working for his “beloved prince” and had no interest in selling music to the publisher. Nevertheless, fate was on Salomon’s side: shortly after Bland’s visit, Haydn’s patron Prince Nikolaus died. The Esterhazy House was succeeded by Prince Anton, who promptly fired the entirety of the court’s musicians and sent Haydn into retirement. This freed up the composer to travel and compose as he pleased. In 1791, thanks to Salomon’s persistence, he finally agreed to make the journey.

Ultimately, Haydn’s visits to London helped propel him even further into fame. He rubbed elbows with England’s elite and he met many prominent and up-and-coming composers, such as a young Beethoven. Salomon capitalized on the visit by appearing often as the principal violinist for the premieres of Haydn’s London pieces and by securing the rights to arrange and perform any and all of the works Haydn produced during his visits.

Haydn would go on to establish himself as one of music’s greatest composers, while Salomon would help found the London Philharmonic Society. Despite being a prominent musician and entrepreneur in his own right, Salomon’s achievements are often overshadowed by his associations with composers such as Haydn and Beethoven. His gravestone mentions only one of his many accomplishments: “He brought Haydn to England in 1791 and 1794.”

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