Maria Anna von Genzinger

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Maria Anna Sabina (von) Genzinger (6 November 1754[1] - 26 January 1793), called "Marianne", was a Viennese amateur musician, the mother of six children, and a friend of the composer Joseph Haydn. Her correspondence with Haydn preserves a personal view of the composer not available from any other biographical source.[2]

Background[edit]

Marianne was the daughter of Joseph von Kayser, who served as court councillor for Prince Batthyany.[3] Her mother, born Maria Anna von Hackher zu Hart, was of an "old Austrian aristocratic family."[4]

On 29 June 1773[5] she married the physician Peter Leopold Genzinger (b. son of the abbey's apothecary on 17 November 1737 in Schlägl, d. 8 September 1797 in Vienna[6]). Robbins Landon describes him as "a popular 'Ladies' Doctor'".[7] He was raised to the nobility by Emperor Francis II on 18 June 1793,[8] thus henceforth "von Genzinger". In 1792, he was made Rector of the Vienna Faculty of Medicine.[9] For many years, Genzinger served as Physician in Ordinary to Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy, who from 1766 to his death in 1790 was Joseph Haydn's patron and employer. It is plausible that Haydn met Marianne through this connection.[10]

Mrs. Genzinger bore 6 children, 4 boys and 2 girls.[11] Like many cultivated women of the time, she was an amateur musician and could play the piano.[12] She continued her piano studies in adulthood (see below).

The friendship with Haydn began in 1789. At this time, the composer was 57 years old, and was nearing the end of his nearly 30 years of full-time service with Esterhazy princes, the latter half spent mostly at the remote palace of Esterháza in Hungary. Although he was the most celebrated of all composers at the time, he still was bound by loyalty and economic considerations to his Prince. Haydn frequently sought to visit Vienna, which however lay a considerable distance from Esterháza.

The origin of the friendship[edit]

Although it is not known how Haydn and Mrs. Genzinger met, their friendship originated in correspondence: having arranged the Andante movement of one of Haydn's symphonies for piano, she sent a copy of her work to the composer, asking him to critique it. Here is the text of her letter, dated 10 June 1789:[13]

[three crosses]
Most respected Herr v[on] Hayden,
With your kind permission, I take the liberty of sending you a pianoforte arrangement of the beautiful Andante from your so admirable composition. I made this arrangement from the score quite by myself, without the least help from my teacher; please be good enough to correct any mistakes you may find in it. I hope that you are enjoying perfect health, and I wish for nothing more than to see you soon again in Vienna, so that I may demonstrate still further the esteem in which I hold you. I remain, in true friendship,
Your obedient servant,
Maria Anna Noble v. Gennzinger
My husband and children also nk Noble v. Kayser. ask me to send you their kindest regards.

Haydn responded with words of praise:

Nobly born and gracious Lady!
In all my previous correspondence, nothing delighted me more than the surprise of seeing such a lovely handwriting, and reading so many kind expressions; but even more I admired the enclosure the excellent arrangement of the Adagio, which is correct enough to be engraved by any publisher. I would like to know only whether Your Grace arranged the Adagio from the score, or whether you took the amazing trouble of first putting it into score from the parts and only then arranging it for the pianoforte; if the latter, such an attention would be too flattering to me, for I really don't deserve it.
Best and kindest Frau v. Gennsinger! I only await a hint from you as to how and in what fashion I can possibly be of service to Your Grace. Meanwhile I return the Adagio, and very much hope to receive from Your Grace some demands on my modest talents; I am, with sincere esteem and respect,
Your Grace's
most obedient servant,
Josephus Haydn [m.p]ria.[14]
Estoras,[15] 14th June 1789.
N.S. Please present my respectful compliments to your husband.

A social invitation to the Genzingers' home soon followed. Haydn biographer Karl Geiringer describes Haydn's visits to the Genzingers as follows:

Both the doctor and his charming wife, Marianne, an excellent singer and pianist, were real friends of music. On Sundays, the musical elite of Vienna used to assemble at the Genzingers' home for performances of the first quality. Haydn attended these gatherings whenever he was in Vienna, and they meant a great deal to him. There he found an atmosphere that seemed like the fulfullment of his old dreams: a comfortable, pleasant home; a woman of high culture who took the keenest interest in every one of his new compositions and who at the same time was so thoughtful a hostess that she prepared his favorite dishes; musically gifted children whom he could guide. The Genzinger home offered him all that he had missed throughout his married life. He basked in this congenial atmosphere, only to feel all the more strongly the misery of his lonely existence when he returned to Eszterháza.[16]

Haydn's loneliness[edit]

The backdrop to this description is that Haydn's own marriage had been unhappy almost from the very start, and had produced no children. Haydn was also conducting a long term love affair with the singer Luigia Polzelli, but this may have been fading, in light of the fact that two years later Haydn did not bring Luigia with him on his first visit to London. Haydn may also have been deprived of ordinary male friendship, given that his contract required him to act as a "house officer" and remain socially aloof from the musicians under his direction.[17]

That Haydn did indeed feel lonely during his final years at Eszterháza is suggested by a letter to Marianne, dated February 9, 1790:[18]

Well, here I sit in my wilderness; forsaken, like some poor orphan, almost without human society, melancholy, dwelling on the memory of past glorious days. Yes, past, alas! And who can tell when those happy hours may return--those charming meeting where the whole circle has but one heart and one soul--all those delightful musical evenings that can only be remembered and not described?

Other letters suggest that Haydn, whose persona is often assumed to be uniformly and stereotypically jolly (see Papa Haydn) experienced depression at times.[19] A letter of May 1790 reads:[20]

I beg Your Grace not to shy away from comforting me by your pleasant letters, for they cheer me up in my isolation, and are highly necessary for my heart, which is often very deeply hurt.

The first London journey[edit]

Haydn may be assumed to have visited the Genzingers more often after the death of Prince Nikolaus (28 September 1790), when he was dismissed by the new prince from his duties, was given a pension, and settled in Vienna. However, the stay in Vienna was only for a brief time; on 15 December 1790, Haydn left Vienna on the first of his two journeys to London, where he enjoyed great success both musically and financially. Much of the information we have about Haydn's London visits comes from letters he wrote to Marianne while there.

Death and mourning[edit]

The last letter from Haydn to Mrs. Genzinger is dated 13 November 1792, thus following his return to Vienna on July 24.[21]

Gracious Lady!
Apart from wishing you a Good Morning, this is to ask you to give the bearer of this letter the final big Aria in F minor from my opera, because I must have it copied for my Princess. I will bring it back myself in 2 days at the latest. Today I take the liberty of inviting myself to lunch, which I shall have the opportunity of kissing Your Grace's hands in return. Meanwhile I am, as always,
Y[our] G[race's]
Most obedient servant,
Joseph Haydn

By "my opera" Haydn meant his L'anima del filosofo, completed the previous year; the aria in question is a lament by the main character Orpheus.

The letter gives no hint at all that Marianne was ill, but in fact she died only two months later, on 26 January 1793. Haydn's feelings at the time are not preserved, though the musicologist H. C. Robbins Landon suggests[22] that his F Minor Variations for piano, which stand out in Haydn's oeuvre for their tone of impassioned anguish, may have been written as a tacit commemoration of Marianne.[23]

Karl Geiringer writes "With Marianne's death, something never to be recaptured went out of Haydn's life. A certain sarcasm in his nature began to show, an asperity of which the diary of his second trip to London offers many instances." [24]

A love affair?[edit]

Geiringer and other biographers have addressed the question of whether Haydn was in love with Marianne. The most likely answer seems to be that he was, but was very aware of how catastrophic the consequences would be if they pursued a romantic connection, and exercised restraint. Moreover, the various veiled utterances found in Haydn's letters are not matched in Marianne's, who (Geiringer) "certainly showed no more than friendliness."[25]

Haydn biographer Rosemary Hughes writes:

It is easy to see that he was, in a deeply respectful way, half in love with Marianne ... He anxiously assures her, when one of his letters to her had been lost on the way, that it contained nothing dishonourable for the inquisitive to seize on ... His deep anxiety was that she ... should take fright and break off their correspondence.[26]

Genzinger as dedicatee[edit]

Haydn wrote his piano sonata in E flat, Hob. XVI/49 (1790), for Mrs. Genzinger. The work is considered one of Haydn's finest sonatas.[27] Concerning the slow movement, Haydn wrote to Mrs. Genzinger, "I recommend it especially to your attention for it contains many things which I shall analyze for your grace when the time comes; it is rather difficult but full of feeling.".[28]

Maria Anna von Genzinger died of lung ulcers at the age of 38.[29]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Vienna University Archive, Liber Societatis Viduarum, fol. 90.
  2. ^ Geiringer 1982, 90
  3. ^ Robbins Landon (1959, xxi)
  4. ^ Robbins Landon (1959, xxi)
  5. ^ Vienna, Schotten parish, Trauungsbuch Tom. 33, fol. 254v.
  6. ^ Vienna University Archive, Liber Societatis Viduarum, fol. 90.
  7. ^ Robbins Landon (1959, xxi)
  8. ^ OeStA/AVA Adel RAA 139.40.
  9. ^ Robbins Landon (1959, xxi)
  10. ^ Robbins Landon (1959, xxi)
  11. ^ Friedrich Freiherr von Haan, "Auszüge aus den Sperr-Relationen des n.-ö. und k. k. n.-ö. Landrechts 1762-1852", Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft Adler 1913, p. 21.
  12. ^ Robbins Landon (1959, xxi)
  13. ^ Translation from Robbins Landon (1959, 85). According to Robbins Landon (1959, xxi), Mrs. Genzinger had trouble with German spelling; her orthography was "several grades more appalling than Haydn's".
  14. ^ Manu propria, Latin phrase meaning that the letter was written down by the author, rather than dictated.
  15. ^ This is how Haydn normally wrote "Esterháza".
  16. ^ Geiringer 1982, p. 90
  17. ^ See Clause 3 of Haydn's contract with the Eszterházys, printed p. 44 of Geiringer 1982
  18. ^ Selection quoted from Geiringer 1982, 90
  19. ^ This seems to be the view of Webster and Feder (2002, 45), and Geiringer (2002, 95) says of this period, "Haydn had ceased to be happy at Eszterháza."
  20. ^ Webster and Feder 2002, 45
  21. ^ Robbins Landon and Jones 1988, 244-245
  22. ^ Robbins Landon 1955, 559
  23. ^ This web site goes further, suggesting that the Variations actually quote the F minor aria for Orpheus mentioned above (though the resemblance appears to be rather slight). As the Web site points out, the aria is one "in which the inconsolable Orpheus, having lost his Eurydice, yearns for death."
  24. ^ (Geiringer 1982, p. 131)
  25. ^ (Geiringer 1982, p. 93)
  26. ^ Hughes 1974, p. 61
  27. ^ For instance, Malcolm Bilson issued a recording of it along with Hob. XVI/52 under the title "Two Great E Flat Sonatas", and Maurice Hinson in the preface to his edition of the sonatas says (p. 17), "The full glory of the Viennese Classical style is apparent in this work."
  28. ^ Hinson 1992, 17
  29. ^ Vienna, Schotten parish, Totenbuch Tom. 15, fol. 5.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

The biography Haydn by J. Cuthbert Hadden, 1902, is available as a free downloadable text from Project Gutenberg. The biography includes an appendix with the translated text of many of Haydn's letters to Mrs. Genzinger. Link: [2].