“My language is understood all over the world”: Haydn’s global enterprise

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Haydn’s notebooks and collections reveal that he was curious about parts of the world then little known in the West, including China, India and the Pacific region. His friend the surgeon John Hunter, who had a collection of items drawn from all over the world, perhaps helped to stimulate the composer’s interest in non-European cultures, their artefacts, flora and fauna. Haydn’s curiosity about such matters arguably stemmed from his concern with how his music might be understood beyond the countries with which he corresponded.
This paper presents evidence that Haydn was closely acquainted with the family of one of the artists who had accompanied Captain Cook on his celebrated voyages to regions then scarcely understood in Europe. Having circumnavigated the globe, this painter became celebrated for his representations of scenes from non-European cultures. At the time of Haydn’s arrival in London he was working as a scenery designer for the leading opera house in London. Haydn was certainly familiar with examples of this artist’s work since the edition of Cook’s voyages acquired by the composer reproduced several examples of it. This paper considers how Haydn’s notion of music as an international ‘language’ developed in response to viewing representations of Primitive cultures in regions explored by Cook. In particular, aspects of Haydn’s conception of the large-scale choral compositions, those written after the London visits, are explored.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJoseph Haydn und die "Neue Welt"
Subtitle of host publicationBericht über das Symposium der Internationalen Joseph Haydn Privatstiftung Eisenstadt im Rahmen der 23. Internationalen Haydntage
EditorsWolfgang Fuhrmann
Place of PublicationTutzing
PublisherHollitzer Verlag
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-99012-767-4
ISBN (Print)9783990125724
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2019

Publication series

NameEisenstäder Haydn-Berichte
PublisherHollitzer Verlag


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