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Joseph Haydn’s Contract with the Esterhazy Court Essay

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Updated: Feb 20th, 2022

Introduction

In 1761, the contract determining Joseph Haydn’s responsibilities of the Vice-Kapellmeister at the Esterhazy Court was written, and it explained the main duties to perform by the composer. The document allows understanding the role of composers working at courts in the eighteenth century in comparison to the composers’ rights in the nineteenth century.

Main body

The main points that attract the readers’ attention are the fact that Haydn was treated as a servant, his behavior was highly regulated, he was responsible for mentoring other musicians, and he had no right to publish his works as they were the property of Prince Paul. Thus, according to the document, Haydn was equal to a “house staff member” (“Haydn’s Employment Contract” 2). Moreover, he was expected to become “an example for the other musicians” and “conduct himself in an exemplary fashion” (“Haydn’s Employment Contract” 2). In addition, the composer needed to ask Prince each morning about his desire to listen to a concert to be ready to perform at any time, and the composer wrote only the music commanded by Prince. Thus, Haydn was responsible for organizing musicians, monitoring their playing, as well as for resolving problems.

Most importantly, performing as the Vice-Kapellmeister and composing music pieces, Haydn did not have a right to communicate them “to any other party,” and he could not write works that were not commanded by Prince Paul or were commanded by any other person (“Haydn’s Employment Contract” 2). From this point, it is possible to state that the work of a composer in the eighteenth century was not viewed as art.

While discussing Haydn’s contract in the context of time, it is important to note that the role of a composer at the court was not discussed as unique in comparison to the roles of any other servants.

From this perspective, it is necessary to explore the evolution of the attitudes to composers and music pieces from the eighteenth century to the nineteenth century. Moreover, the document explains the limited number of published scores because the music belonged to Prince according to the contract.

Conclusion

Joseph Haydn’s contract for work at the Esterhazy Court is a distinctive document that needs to be preserved because it explains the authorities’ attitudes to the music and composers in the eighteenth century. In addition, the document provides the background and framework to understand under what circumstances composers created their music masterpieces and for what purpose.

Works Cited

Haydn’s Employment Contract from the Archives of the Esterházy Court. 2010. Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "Joseph Haydn’s Contract with the Esterhazy Court." February 20, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/joseph-haydns-contract-with-the-esterhazy-court/.


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IvyPanda. "Joseph Haydn’s Contract with the Esterhazy Court." February 20, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/joseph-haydns-contract-with-the-esterhazy-court/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Joseph Haydn’s Contract with the Esterhazy Court." February 20, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/joseph-haydns-contract-with-the-esterhazy-court/.

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