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A Star in Great Britain

In 1790 Prince Nikolaus I. died. His successor showed no interest in music and disbanded the orchestra and choir and granted Haydn an annual pension, releasing him into the international world of music. Mozart expressed reservations that Haydn didn't even speak English. Haydn's response: “My music is understood in all the world!”

Haydn Portrait © Österreich Werbung / Trumler
Thanks to this, Joseph Haydn agreed to compose 27 pieces for London concert manager Johann Peter Salomon and to have them performed in concerts, conducting them himself. Haydn’s arrival in England on 1st January 1791 caused a stir - as much as the fact that Haydn was greeted at a court ball at St. James Palace by the Prince of Wales with a visible bow. In July 1791 Haydn received an Honorary Doctorate for Music from the University of Oxford. The solemn celebration lasted three days and took place in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford.

Haydn left the British Isles in June 1792 after two successful concert series. He traveled back to Austria via Bonn, where he met the talented young Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). In 1793, he bought the suburban house Obere Windmühle at Kleine Steingasse 73 (today's Haydn Haus museum) and started to live in it in 1797. It was here that he created his oratories “The Creation” and “The Seasons”.

In January 1794, Haydn traveled to England a second time and was again a great success. The “Military Symphony”, the most popular of all his symphonies during his lifetime, was performed for the first time. The 250 works that Haydn composed for his two London visits alone could easily stand for the life's work of any composer.

Haydn received the great honor to be included in the programmes of the “Ancient Concerts” as the only living composer. He also found official recognition by participating in the concerts of the English King George III (1738-1820) to whom he was introduced by George, Prince of Wales (1762-1830). The English king and his wife Charlotte tried to convince Haydn to stay longer in England and offered him an apartment in Windsor, but even they were not successful...