<br><h3> Chapter One </h3> Haydn, Shakespeare, and the Rules of Originality <p> ELAINE SISMAN <p> <p> This essay's point of departure is Haydn's celebrated description, late in life, of how he came to be "original." To Griesinger, who was interviewing him for a biography, he put the best face on his years as Kapellmeister to Nicolaus Esterházy: <p> My Prince was satisfied with all of my works; I received applause. As head of an orchestra, I could make experiments, observe what created an impression and what weakened it, and thus improve, add, make cuts, take risks. I was isolated from the world; no one in my vicinity could make me lose confidence in myself or bother me, and so I had to become original. <p> <p> This is a remarkable claim, in both meaning and context. To take the context first, we see that Haydn's claim of originality is based first on his ability to make experiments and second on his isolation. By linking his position as "head of an orchestra" with the idea of trying things out ("experiments ... add ... cuts ... risks"), he implies that his main interest was in the audience's (and his own) reactions to orchestral effects or musical details and forms filtered through orchestral sonorities and textures. He needed to know <i>how</i> his audience heard, and when he scribbled "This was for entirely too learned ears" over a few rejected measures in the slow movement of Symphony 42, we understand that his attempt to thin out the texture, to make the music "lose steam" between statements of the second theme, had failed to "create an impression" or indeed had actively weakened it, in performance at Eszterháza in 1771. By mentioning both his isolation and freedom from distracting criticism, Haydn finessed several questions, however: he was nearly thirty when he went to work for the Esterhazys, and had already written symphonies, string quartets, and sonatas; he was obviously exposed to and participated in the musical society he found while the court was in Vienna each winter, enabling him to hear considerable amounts of new music and interact with fellow composers and intellectuals in the salons of the day; and there was also both an extensive Esterh&zy musical library and keen interest on the part of his patrons to hear music by other composers. <p> This brings us to the question of meaning: what did Haydn mean both by "original" and by "becoming original"? One possible interpretation is his clear interest in asserting priority in developing a musical style. Haydn's traditional kindly image makes this seem uncharacteristically ungenerous, yet in Haydn's own time he was considered not the merely humorous "Papa" the nineteenth century understood him to be, but a "father and reformer of noble music" and the "patriarch of new music." Indeed, the <i>Allgemeine musikalisclie Zeitung</i> in 1798 asked younger composers to stop copying Haydn's characteristic symphonic techniques so that the style would not be diluted and devalued. Haydn was always careful about which composers he claimed had influenced him: he was happy to tell Griesinger that "only Emanuel Bach was his model [<i>Vorbild</i>]" and to reject the rumor that Sammartini's influence can be heard in his earlier string quartets. Haydn went so far as to say that he had indeed heard Sammartini's music but thought he was a hack writer [<i>Schmierer</i>]. Griesinger himself claimed to be surprised when he heard the rumor from "a reliable source," because he "had never heard Haydn's originality doubted, especially in quartets." Giuseppe Carpani mentioned the anecdote in his own biography, but assumed that the source of the rumor, the composer Josef Myslivecek, "went too far. Haydn's style, considered in its totality, is completely his own, completely new ..." Carpani even suggests that one reason for Haydn's originality is that he could not find a "maestro" willing to teach him counterpoint <i>gratis</i> during his early days in Vienna, but that this was a boon because "Haydn with such a teacher might have avoided some of the errors that befell him when writing for church or theater, but I respond: then he would have turned out to be less original in everything." <p> Finally, we must ask: if studying the works of other composers and the rules of counterpoint would have made Haydn less "original," what did Haydn's originality mean to the many contemporary critics who commented either favorably or unfavorably upon it? How was the term generally understood in this period? Originality was linked, in the second half of the eighteenth century, with far-reaching debates about imitation, imagination, and genius, about the relationship between following one's fantasy and "following the rules." Yet at the same time it could be seen as mere eccentricity, as a taste for the bizarre, Haydn's desire to see what "created an impression" interpreted as the straining after effect. Thus, when the earliest English biographical notice of Haydn appeared in 1784, his music was praised as "<i>original, masterly</i>, and <i>beautiful</i>." But the context for this praise was a defense against the criticisms of northern German pamphlets, "alledging his works [to be] too flighty, trifling, and wild, and accusing him at the same time as the inventor of a new musical doctrine, and introducing a species of sounds totally unknown in that country." Those critics argued not only that his music was too eccentric but that it was incorrect, especially in breaking rules about parallel octaves and in breaching decorum by mixing comic and serious styles in the same work. To German critics, the moral of Carpani's anecdote would have been the opposite: there is no advantage in not having had a good teacher. <p> Although arguments over "following the rules" go back to antiquity—there are quite a few rhetorical figures which depend for their effect upon breaking rules—and arguments pairing genius and rules go back at least to the Renaissance, the principal focus of such debates in their eighteenth-century incarnation was Shakespeare. The vogue for translations and performances sweeping Europe during the second half of the century forced critics in an era obsessed with dramatic proprieties to confront Shakespearean breadth, structure, morality, and characters. Commentators who tested Shakespeare against the rules of drama, especially the unities, split one of two ways: in the French-influenced precincts of Gottsched (and Frederick the Great), Shakespeare was found wanting; by the lights of Lessing or in the <i>Sturm und Drang</i>-associated notions of original genius <i>(Originalgenie)</i> promulgated by Herder and Goethe, he was found vastly to supersede the classical rules. Shakespeare was a touchstone: critics' reactions to him instantly place them within the larger debates of the time. In fact, it is remarkable the degree to which critical responses to Shakespeare among German writers (an absorbing tale in itself, with echoes elsewhere in Europe), correlate with critical responses to Haydn. Moreover, the features of Haydn's "originality" that elicited the strongest responses—his mixture of serious and comic elements, of high and low styles, in a single instrumental work—are precisely the features of Shakespeare's plays that eighteenth-century critics had most difficulty confronting. Haydn and Shakespeare were regarded with suspicion in the same quarters for largely the same reasons, including an inappropriate "caprice." <p> This essay will first examine Haydn's attitudes to rules, as well as the apparent conflict between genius and rule and the ways in which originality intersects with both. I will then chart the changing responses to Shakespeare and to Haydn and discuss the comparisons made between Haydn and Shakespeare by both German and English critics, especially as they relate to originality. Then I will explore Haydn's connection to theatrical productions, especially of Shakespeare plays, as one important source for Haydn's "original" style. Finally, I will consider several works in which Haydn deliberately cast aside "rules," in order to explore rhetorical ideas of originality that call attention to themselves in this way. To anticipate my conclusions, I will suggest that the "rules" plot a continuum from the narrowly defined and venerable "laws" (dissonance treatment or voice leading, for example) to broadly conceived senses of decorum which would be violated by, say, antithetical uses of serious and comic elements; that this continuum embodied precisely the kinds of rules operating in rhetoric and the theater; and that Haydn, at the end of his composing life and in the era of Beethoven's ascendancy, was seeking not only priority, but recognition of his own status as a genius. <p> <p> Haydn and Rules <p> Haydn, in conversations with his biographers Georg August Griesinger and Albert Christoph Dies, struck several contradictory poses about rules. His remarks about actual instances of composing see him invoking rules, but his more general aesthetic remarks suggest that he found them both insufficient and petty. As we will see, there appear to be at least two kinds of rules and three sources of rules, two of them legitimate. Here he is, composing at the keyboard, conjuring with rules: <p> I sat down and began to fantasize, according to whether my mood was sad or happy, serious or playful. Once I had caught hold of an idea, my entire effort went toward working it out and sustaining it according to the rules of art." <p> <p> But he also told Griesinger that he was able to withstand criticism by "strict theoreticians" who objected to many things but especially his "comical trifling," for he <p> soon convinced himself that an anxious compliance with the rules often produces works that are the most lacking in taste and feeling, that mere arbitrariness had branded many things as rules, and that in music the only thing absolutely forbidden is what offends a delicate ear. <p> <p> Similarly, when told that Albrechtsberger wanted to banish fourths from the strict style, Haydn responded: <p> What does that mean? Art is free, and will be limited by no artisan's fetters [<i>Handwerksfesseln</i>]. The ear, assuming that it is educated, must decide, and I hold myself to be as competent as anyone to give rules here. <p> <p> Significant here is his opposition of art and craft (<i>Kunst</i> and <i>Handwerk</i>), of what guides the artist but constrains the artisan. He had come a long way from the remark in his autobiographical sketch of 1776 that "I wrote diligently, but not quite correctly, until at last I had the good fortune to learn the true fundamentals of composition from the celebrated Herr Porpora." <p> Several other comments in the biographies of Griesinger and Dies reflect Haydn's sense that rules were arbitrary, small-minded, or excessively restrictive to a "free spirit." Here Haydn again uses the term <i>Fesseln</i>, fetters, to describe his objections to Kirnberger's treatise on strict composition. Haydn aimed to touch the heart, according to Dies, and although he wanted his music to be "correct," he was willing to bend the rules: <p> If I found something to be beautiful, so that the ear and the heart in my opinion could be satisfied, and I would have had to sacrifice such beauty to withered pedantry, then I would rather let stand a little grammatical slip. <p> <p> Clearly, beauty must take precedence over correctness. This venerable idea goes back to antiquity: Longinus asked the rhetorical question, in <i>On the Sublime</i>, "Which is the better in poetry and in prose, grandeur with a few flaws or correct composition of mediocre quality, yet entirely sound and impeccable?" Even Rameau, associated in later minds with the rules of harmony, wrote "There is a world of difference between a music without fault and a perfect music." When asked point-blank by Dies about whether he relied on a system or even made up his own rules to ensure popular approval, Haydn replied: <p> I never thought about that in the heat of composing; I wrote what seemd to me good, and corrected it afterward according to the laws of harmony. Other tricks I have never used. Several times I took the liberty not of offending the ear, of course, but of breaking the usual textbook rules, and wrote above those places with the words <i>con licenza</i>. <p> <p> Of those critics who decried his errors and pointed to the Austrian musical theorist and composer Fux, Haydn continued, he asked if their ears could discern the mistakes; they were forced to admit they could not. Dies triumphantly concluded that, since Haydn's con licenza was applauded by connoisseurs abroad—indeed, evoked the wonderment that works of genius inspire—and smiled at by local composers, he could properly be thought of as the free artist praised by Horace and Schiller, unconstrained by the past or by academicism. <p> Finally, Griesinger identified what Haydn considered to be the requirements for a good piece of music: <p> His theoretical raisonnements were very simple: a piece of music should have a flowing melody [<i>Gesang</i>], coherent ideas, no superfluous ornaments [<i>Schnörkeleyen</i>], nothing overdone, no confusing accompaniment, and so forth. How to satisfy these requirements? That, he confessed himself, cannot be learned by rules, and simply depends on natural talent and on the inspiration of inborn genius. <p> <p> In this respect, Haydn joined many eighteenth-century voices, among them Rameau and Heinrich Christoph Koch, who considered melody to be difficult or impossible to teach because it was dependent upon innate qualities. <p> Thus there are two kinds of rules: the rules of art, which are true, broad, and deep, and the "guild" rules of strict counterpoint and harmony. Moreover, there are two <i>legitimate</i> sources of rules: the realm of art [<i>Kunst</i>] and the artist himself and his educated ear. The tradition and texts that sanctioned the laws of counterpoint and harmony may be invoked only selectively, lest they lead to a narrowing of vision. A composer's originality, then, may be connected to his willingness to depart from "textbook rules" for aesthetic reasons and on the basis of his "free spirit," even "genius"—a word Haydn stopped short of actually applying to himself, but which was certainly applied to him by Dies and many others. Indeed, genius [<i>Genie</i>] and spirit (<i>Geist</i>) are semantically and philosophically linked. <p> Kant memorably put genius together with both rules and originality in his <i>Critique of Judgment</i> of 1790: <p> Genius is the talent (natural endowment) which gives the rule to art ... (1) Genius is a talent for producing something for which no determinate rule can be given, not a predisposition consisting of a skill for something that can be learned by following some rule or other; hence the foremost property of genius must be <i>originality</i>. (2) Since nonsense too can be original, the products of genius must also be models, i.e., they must be <i>exemplary</i>, ... they must serve ... as a standard or rule by which to judge. (3) Genius itself cannot describe or indicate scientifically how it brings about its products, and it is rather as nature that it gives the rule. That is why, if an author owes a product to his genius, he himself does not know how he came upon the ideas for it; ... Indeed, that is presumably why the word genius is derived from (Latin) <i>genius</i>, [which means] the guardian and guiding spirit that each person is given as his own at birth, and to whose inspiration [<i>Eingebung</i>] those original ideas are due. (4) Nature, through genius, prescribes the rule not to science but to art, and this also only insofar as the art is to be fine art. <p> <p> Thus, rhetorical <i>invention</i>, the source of artistic ideas, cannot be explained; even the genius does not know how his ideas arose. Griesinger claimed "in Haydn there was complete confirmation of Kant's observation" on this point. In the attitude toward rules in this discussion, Kant might have been following the lead of Lessing, whose brilliant criticism in the ground-breaking <i>Hamburg Dramaturgy</i> had argued over twenty years before that genius "laughs at boundary lines drawn by critics": "O you manufacturer of rules, how litde do you understand art, and how little do you possess of genius which creates the ideal, on which you make [the rules] and which can break [the rules] as often as it likes!" Genius, Lessing asserted, is the "only source for perfection in drama." <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>Haydn and His World</b> Copyright © 1997 by Princeton University Press. Excerpted by permission of PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS. All rights reserved. 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