Haydn: Joy Begats Joy

On this day in 1809 Franz Josef Haydn died, at the age of 77.  In The Imaginative Conservative Robert Reilly writes why he enjoys Haydn’s music:

While listening to Haydn, I feel gratitude, which is hardly strange, as it is gratitude that his work expresses. In the April 2009 Gramophone, Geraint Lewis wrote, “When he was berated late in life for the cheerful tone of his religious music, Haydn simply said that every time he thought of God his heart leapt for joy.” My heart leaps for joy when I hear him. Joy begets joy. As a result, I never tire of his music. I am always refreshed by it.

This effect exactly fits Haydn’s intention. Here is how he saw the purpose of his life’s labor, as expressed in 1802:

Often, when struggling against obstacles of every sort which oppose my labors: often, when the powers of mind and body weakened, and it was difficult to continue the course I had entered on; — a secret voice whispered to me: “there are so few happy and contented peoples here below; grief and sorrow are always their lot; perhaps your labors will once be a source from which the care-worn, or the man burdened with affairs, can derive a few moments rest and refreshment.” This was indeed a powerful motive to press onwards, and this is why I now look back with cheerful satisfaction on the labors expended on this art, to which I have devoted so many long years of uninterrupted effort and exertion.

And here is a pleasant interlude for today from Haydn.  The art is pleasing as well.

It has only been a couple of years since I first heard Haydn’s Creation.  Like so many things, experiencing it for the first time can’t be repeated, but the joy can.  Here it is in English.

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