|Herr Gassmann & young Haydn in love|
The Organ Concertos & the marriage of young Haydn
The production of Keyboard music (for organ or for any other kind of keyboard) is really an important part of the compositional activity of the young Joseph Haydn in the years 1750s & 1760s.
Among the first Symphonies (Hob.I: 1, 18, 19, 20, 37, 107, 108 are all written in the period 1757-1759), the first Piano Trios (Hob.XV: 33, 34, 35, 36, 40) and the the first Piano Sonatas (Hob.XVI: from 1 to 19 & Hob.XVI: from 44 to 47), a position of distinction is held by the Keyboard Concertos (in particular the Hob.XVIII: 1, 2, 5, 6, 8 all composed before 1767).
The importance, that this type of musical production, had for the young Haydn is given also by the fact that, according to a well known anecdote, Haydn gave, to this kind of musical medium, a fundamental role in his sentimental universe.
Haydn, in love with the young daughter of a Viennese coiffeur, had, instead, to get married with her elder sister, Maria Anna Keller, a woman older than Haydn himself and who became universally infamous for her way of mistreating Haydn and of defaming Mozart (such unhappy circumstances were already subject of English London newspapers' speculations in 1780s).
Haydn, still in love with Maria Anna's younger sister, who had to become nun, wrote an Organ Concerto (so dedicated to his beloved one) for the day of her consecration as nun.
The strange sense of humour of Gluck, Gassmann and Salieri
Among the other difficulties, the young Haydn had to face between 1756 and 1773, there was also his relationship with Gluck and Gassmann.
The two men were, infamously, the two consuls of the Viennese Music World and many heads had to roll on the floor, due to their ruthless exercise of their predominant position of money and power (see The Bugler May 2016: von Mozart vs. von Gluck).
Haydn never tried to reach Italy for the Musical Italian Tour and immediately accepted a position at the outskirts of the Viennese World, thanks to various patrons, among them, the Esterházy.
Nevertheless, according to Carpani, one of his early biographers, Haydn's beautiful music had already made him a possible candidate for a position of Court Composer for the Viennese Imperial Court some time before 1773: but he was going to never receive this kind of appointment.
Carpani here, trying to defend the activity and the way of behaving of Gluck, Gassmann and Salieri and trying to depict them as light-hearted, funny and sympathetic people, left a few anecdotes on their strange (one should say chilling!) sense of humour.
1. when one of his pupil in composition made a mistake in his harmonic work, Gassmann used to say: «This bad chords concatenation you used here you say is good? I tell you what it is like! I don't know, in some country out of Europe, someone may suddenly receive something at his back and he doesn't even realize it, but he is getting impaled from behind!».
2. Salieri used to re-tell a funny (!?) anecdote on his patron Gluck and his appreciation of Gassmann's music. Gluck would often tell young Salieri that Gassmann's music was as good and beautiful as his [i.e. Gluck's] own one, however Gassmann's music lacked nothing, just only a bit of his [i.e. Gluck's] own imposture and of his ability as a pander.
Gassmann & young Haydn the thief
At the beginning of 19th century various stories circulated on the reason why
Haydn never received an official position at the Imperial Court.
One of these stories was in the biographical works by the French scholar Framery (and also by Breton) and then was treated and confuted by Carpani in his own book.
According to this version, before 1773 Haydn had to receive an official position at the Imperial Court, but the evil Gassmann orchestrated a Court intrigue against young Haydn so that he could never receive an official position by the Emperor.
When the Emperor told Gassmann that the young Haydn was going to be chosen for an Imperial position, Gassmann answered to the Emperor: «Haydn completely lacks imagination. He finds help in re-using the stuff already written by other composers. He steals. And he covers up his stealing by using his art. I can arrange for you an experiment at the Imperial Theatre, so you can realize by yourself that Haydn is nothing but a thief».
And so the Emperor himself, thanks to an evil trick that Gassmann had prepared against Haydn, saw the naive young Haydn at the Imperial Theatre while he was writing down in his book some music composed by other composers, and this, before the Emperor's eyes, was Haydn himself, writing down, this way, «his own condemnation as a thief and his own perpetual shame as a plagiarist».
According to Carpani, this story on the evil intrigues and tricks used by Gassmann against the other composers was false and a pure forgery.
However it is interesting to notice how this story, even if probably false in its details, matches, in reality, other stories and anecdotes (this time well documented) on the evil, and sometimes even sordid, behaviour of Gluck and Gassmann against their own colleagues, notably Mozart and von Dittersdorf. (see The Bugler May 2016: von Mozart vs. von Gluck)
Carpani thought that, before 1773, Haydn could not receive an Imperial position only because he had practically never written great Sacred Music works before 1773. However his book is an evidence on how at the beginning of 19th century various stories on the evil behaviour of Gassmann, the teacher of Salieri, and of his pupil Salieri started widely circulating and in a few cases we can say that such stories came from cultural circles of admirers and friends of Beethoven (see the written campaign against Salieri conducted during a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony).
So, in conclusion, this is the story on how evil Gassmann, the teacher and mentor of evil Salieri, transformed an innocent act of a young and completely unaware Haydn into a perpetual condemnation and on how Gassmann destroyed the career of Haydn at the Imperial Court in Vienna.
Joseph Haydn, Organ Concerto Hob. XVIII: 1 (1756?):
Organ Concerto Hob. XVIII: 1 (http://imslp.org)
Ton Koopman, Piano
S. & L.M. Jennarelli