The Chow Hound


On February 9th, 1790, Joseph Haydn had just returned to the Hungarian country estate of his long term employers, the Esterhazy family, and to his friend Frau von Genzinger he wrote longingly of the comforts and congeniality of Vienna.

“Now—here I sit in my wilderness—deserted—like a poor orphan, almost without human companionship. Sad. Full of the memory of precious days gone by. And who knows when those pleasant days will return? That charming company in which a whole circle shares one heart, one soul, and all those fine musical evenings that can only be remembered, not described in writing.

“Where is all the enthusiasm? Gone. And gone for a long time. At home I found everything in confusion. My whole apartment was in disarray. My fortepiano, which I used to love, was out of order, disobedient, and perturbed rather than soothed me. I got little sleep. Even my dreams were a persecution for when I dreamed I was hearing an excellent performance of The Marriage of Figaro, that wretched North wind woke me up and almost blew my nightcap off my head.

“Here at Esterhaz nobody asks me, ‘Do you take chocolate with milk or without? Would you like coffee, black or with cream? What can I get you, my dear Haydn? Would you like vanilla ice or a pineapple one?’ If only I had here a piece of good Parmesan cheese, especially on fast days to help the black dumpling and noodles down more easily. This very day I ordered our porter to send me down a few pounds of it.

“Forgive me, dearest lady, if on this occasion I waste your time with such outrageous stuff in my wretched scribbling. Forgive me as a man to whom the Viennese were too kind. But I am already gradually beginning to get used to country ways. Yesterday I did some studying for the first time, and it was quite in the Haydn manner.”

Joseph Haydn to Frau von Genzinger, Esterhaz, February 9th, 1790.

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