Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Final Years

Haydn continued to grow and grow in the public's eyes, and he was friends with a lot of other important composers of his time, including Mozart and Beethoven. He eventually performed in large orchestras in England. An English music historian, Charles Burney, said:  "Haydn himself presided at the piano-forte; and the sight of that renowned composer so electrified the audience, as to excite an attention and a pleasure superior to any that had ever been caused by instrumental music in England."

During his final days, Haydn returned to his hometown of Vienna to live out the rest of his days in peace. However, in 1802, Joseph came down with an illness that he had been suffering for a while, but which now prevented him from composing his music. He was always well-cared for by the servants, but his hunger to compose never died. During the last stages of the sickness, it was all he could do to sit at his piano and play Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser, which later became the Austrian and German national anthems. 

Haydn died at the age of 77 near the end of May in 1809 after a attack on his beloved Vienna by the armies of Napoleon. He died lovingly telling his servants to have no fear of the oncoming tirade, for no harm can fall where Haydn is. 

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