… 1 pig, firewood, and forage for two horses

  1. Herr Haydn is to conduct himself in a manner which is edifying, Christian and God-fearing.
  2. Herr Capell-Meister is to treat his subordinates at all times with great goodness and forbearance.
  3. [Herr Haydn] agrees to perform any music of one kind or another in all the places, and at all the times, to which and when H. Highness is pleased to command.*

Haydn’s revised contract of 1779 – the first three clauses are above – was a tad less proscriptive than his original (1761) conditions of service. Then, the 29-year-old composer had, amongst other things, been instructed:

  • ‘to take more care to conduct himself in an exemplary manner’ and to abstain from ‘vulgarity in eating, drinking and conversation’;
  • to present himself ‘daily in the antechamber before and after midday and enquire whether His Highness is pleased to order a performance of the orchestra’;
  • to retain his work for ‘the absolute use of His Highness’ no music was to be composed ‘for any other person without the knowledge and permission of His Highness’.*

There were compensations: Haydn, the Capell Meister – eventually – became the ‘third highest paid employee of the entire Eszterházy court’* (961 gulden 45 kreuzer per annum!!); and, in addition, for his work as organist in Eisenstadt (the other Eszterházy palace), he received payment in kind including – in addition to the pig, firewood and forage mentioned above – beef, salt, lard, candles, wine and mixed beets and cabbage.

The Eszterházy family is still very much with us; below, one of its most distinguished members, the author Péter Eszterházy, reads from his book  Celestial Harmonies (a novel/family chronicle) and reminisces about his childhood and the coming of the communist regime in Hungary.


Here are three works in C that date from between 1785 and 1787, our period for this week: a string quartet and a symphony by Haydn (op. 50 no. 2 and the finale of one of the hugely successful ‘Paris’ symphonies – no. 82, known as l’Ours (the Bear)) and, to illustrate the Haydn/Mozart cross-pollination, Mozart’s quartet K. 465 the “Dissonance”.


* H.C. Robbins Landon: Haydn, Chronicle and Works – Haydn at Eszterháza

Header image: Kalbsgeschnetzeltes (sliced veal)


To view the score of Op. 50 No. 2 without downloading click below Op. 50 No. 2

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