If Only


After a pleasant vacation it can be hard to return to the home routine, at least it was for Joseph Haydn. On more than one occasion he wrote longingly from Esterhas, his princely employer’s country home, to a friend in Vienna. On May 30″, 1790 he wrote to Maria Anna von Genzinger:

“I beg your Grace not to be frightened away from consoling me occasionally with your enjoyable letters, for they comfort me in my wilderness, and are crucial for my heart, which is so often deeply hurt. Oh! If only I could be with your Grace for a quarter of an hour, to pour out all my troubles to you, and to hear all your comforting words. I have to put up with many irritations from the Court here, which I have to bear in silence.

“The only consolation I have left is that I am — thank God — well and eager to work. I’m just sorry that even though I’m so eager, your Grace has had to wait so long for the symphony I promised. But this time it’s simply a matter of sheer necessity, the result of my situation here and the current rise in the cost of living.

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“Your Grace therefore must not be angry with your Haydn, who can’t go to Vienna, even for 24 hours, no matter how often the prince leaves Esterhas. It’s hard to believe, and yet a refusal is always so polite that I don’t have the heart to press for permission.

“Oh well! Whatever God wills! This time will pass, and the day will come when I’ll have the indescribable pleasure of sitting beside your Grace at the pianoforte, hearing Mozart’s masterpieces, and kissing your hands for so many wonderful things.”

Within a year, Haydn would have his wish. The death of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy would free him to travel to Vienna and far beyond