Thefullscore 15 BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE Final sanctuary: Haydn’s house in central Vienna ★aydn knew that he himself had little time le to live, though. Now aged 77, he was in poor health and, just weeks earlier, had gathered his nearest and dearest for a reading of his will. ★is last major appearance in public had been over a year earlier when, on 27 March 1808 at Vienna’s University ★all, Salieri had conducted a grand concert of The Creation in his honour. It was a much lower-key performance of music from The Creation that would bring pleasure to the dying ★aydn as his home city endured its darkest days. On 17 May 1809, Clément Sulemy, an o cer of the ★ussars, was sent over to the composer’s house – outside which Napoleon had stationed a guard of honour – to sing the tenor aria ‘Mit Würd’ und ★oheit Angetan’ (In Native Worth and ★onour Clad). Sulemy sang in ‘so manly, so sublime a style, and with so much truth of expression and real musical sentiment,’ wrote the composer and pianist Andreas Steicher in a letter, ‘that ★aydn could not restrain his tears of joy and assured the singer as well as the people in his house that he had never before heard the aria sung in so masterly a manner. A er half an hour’s visit the o cer mounted his horse in order to go against the enemy.’ ★aydn was not quite done with music. Just over a week later, he summoned enough strength to sit at the piano and perform his ‘Emperor’s ★ymn’ (better known today as the Deutschlandlied), not once but three times in quick succession and, as reported by his copyist Johann Elssler, ‘with an expressiveness that surprised even himself’. They would be the last notes he played as, soon a er midnight on 31 May, he breathed Major assault: Napoleon’s troops bombard Vienna, home of Beethoven and (below) Haydn ‘Haydn said he had never before heard the aria sung in so masterly a manner’ his last. With Vienna still in turmoil, his death went largely unheralded – it would only be the following month that, accompanied by Mozart’s Requiem, the great father of Austrian music received the proper state send-o he deserved, attended by the great and good. By then, Clément Sulemy was also probably dead. ★e is believed to have been killed on 22 May at the Battle of Aspern where, in trying to cross the Danube, the French su ered a surprise defeat. Just days a er his most famous moment, in which he brought serenity to a great composer in his final days, Sulemy became yet another victim of an increasingly bloody conflict.
© PressReader. All rights reserved.