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Mythological Motifs in the Biographical Accounts of Haydn’s Later Life

Wiley, C (2014) Mythological Motifs in the Biographical Accounts of Haydn’s Later Life In: The Land of Opportunity: Joseph Haydn in Britain. The University of Chicago Press, London, pp. 195-211. ISBN 071235848X

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While Mozart biography has been widely theorized, that of his greatest contemporary has received much less critical attention, even though their trajectories are completely different: Haydn’s long, stable, and relatively uneventful life contrasts strikingly with Mozart’s exceptional rate of development from prodigious childhood to premature death. Drawing on primary literature including the reminiscences of Griesinger (1809), Dies (1810), and Carpani (1812) and the landmark biography by Pohl and Botstiber (1875-82, 1927), as well as scholarship by Vernon Gotwals, H. C. Robbins Landon, and Matthew Head, this chapter investigates three of the most fascinating stories that have emerged in life-writing on Haydn’s later life: his visit of 1795 to the monument erected in his honour by Count Harrach at Rohrau; the celebrated performance of The Creation in March 1808; and the episode of Haydn’s death the following year. The themes that flourished in their retellings over the decades – including the rising social status of the artist, Haydn’s eleventh-hour rapprochement with Beethoven, and notions of The Creation as harbinger of the composer’s death (for which obvious analogies may be drawn with Mozart’s Requiem) – reveal much about the means by which Haydn’s biographers sought to state the case for their subject’s inclusion within musical canon. Consideration of various mythological motifs (to borrow Ernst Kris and Otto Kurz’s term) that emerged in life-writing on Haydn yields a fuller understanding of the origins, at the advent of mature musical biography, of certain important tropes subsequently elaborated and perpetuated in the course of the nineteenth century.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Department of Music and Media
Authors : Wiley, C
Editors :
Chesser, R
Jones, DW
Date : 1 February 2014
Uncontrolled Keywords : music, musical biography, Haydn
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 29 Jan 2014 13:08
Last Modified : 06 Jul 2019 05:13

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