Author Topic: The mystery of Haydn's Head  (Read 496 times)

Wowbagger

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The mystery of Haydn's Head
« on: February 06, 2020, 07:35:51 pm »
I've joined a second choir, because they are singing over the next 4 terms stuff my first choir has already done. One of the most frustrating things about choral singing is working hard on something, singing it just the once, and then not looking at it again, or at least, not for some years. The director of this second choir is this guy: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/people/dr-joe-fort . He is a Haydn specialist.

Last night he told us an amazing story about Haydn, shortly after his death, being decapitated by a couple of servants from the Esterhazy household who were interested in phrenology. Wiki has the story here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haydn%27s_head

Given that I've been studying music at a reasonably high level on and off for 50 years or so, I'm very surprised that I've never heard this story before. Remarkable stuff, particularly that Haydn's head didn't find its way back to the rest of his remains until 1954, the year I was born.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

T42

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Re: The mystery of Haydn's Head
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2020, 09:41:48 am »
A curious story.   I hope there's something in the tomb to label the correct skull.
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

Re: The mystery of Haydn's Head
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2020, 09:18:57 am »
I heard that story decades ago.  Pretty weird, but people were less squeamish in those days.

The thread title sounds like a bad porno.
Never tell me the odds.

Re: The mystery of Haydn's Head
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2020, 10:06:54 am »
Mrs. road-runner teaches classical piano not far from Vienna, the heart of the classical world. She had not heard about Haydn's head. She has now!

Re: The mystery of Haydn's Head
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2020, 10:59:07 am »
People were playing Haydn seek with his head?



Sorrynotsorry...
"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Wowbagger

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Re: The mystery of Haydn's Head
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2020, 01:59:52 pm »
People were playing Haydn seek with his head?



Sorrynotsorry...

...especially when they wrapped it in a turban...

I loved the bit where it was hidden in a straw mattress and Esterhazy's men were going to search the mattress but the lady of the house said she was lying there menstruating and therefore she was unclean and they couldn't touch her.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Re: The mystery of Haydn's Head
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2020, 11:21:58 am »
Today's listening is a newly delivered box set.  https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/7923630--haydn-piano-trios



Not fast & rarely furious

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Re: The mystery of Haydn's Head
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2020, 12:23:22 pm »
People were playing Haydn seek with his head?



Sorrynotsorry...

...especially when they wrapped it in a turban...


[May I join in?]

I see that when they dug him up he was already de-composing.

Wowbagger

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Re: The mystery of Haydn's Head
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2020, 12:46:01 am »
People were playing Haydn seek with his head?



Sorrynotsorry...

...especially when they wrapped it in a turban...


[May I join in?]

I see that when they dug him up he was already de-composing.

He was already doing that when his bonce was handed over to the bump-feeler. It is said that the perp vommed when face to face with the author of The Creation.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Salvatore

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Re: The mystery of Haydn's Head
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2020, 11:13:03 am »
I hadn't heard of Haydn's head but I do know the story of J.S. Bach's arse.

I was told it when I was in Leipzig in 1977.

When Bach died he was buried in an unmarked grave in the Alte Johannisfriedhof (then a cemetery as the name suggests, now a park and incidentally where** I spent the very pleasant afternoon of 8th May 1977 (VE Day in the UK but der Tag der Befreiung vom Faschismus in the DDR)). At the end of the 19th century it was decided that the Johanniskirche  would be a more fitting resting place for the (de)composer, and several bodies were exhumed from the general area where it was thought he'd been interred*. That left the re-interrers with several skeletons, and they hadn't a clue which was that of the great musician. On the basis that he'd spent so much time as an organist in a seated position, rocking from side to side , and reaching for stops, he would have had a well developed posterior, they selected the skeleton with the biggest arse (i.e pelvis). And so those were the bones which were transferred to the vault until they were moved to a grave at the Thomaskirche where he'd been choirmaster.




That's what I was told in 1977. This article from 2009 in the Medical Journal of Australia suggests that the bones of the story are more or less correct (at least in some respects), except it uses the phrase 'pevic exostoses' instead of 'biggest arse', but confirms the gist of the story and concludes:
Quote
We believe it is unlikely that the skeleton is that of Bach

*
Quote
Based on oral tradition, it was in the graveyard surrounding St Johanniskirche in Leipzig, “six paces away from the south portal”.4 This oral tradition apparently originated in 1894 from a 75-year-old man, who in turn was informed about the location 60 years earlier by a 90-year-old gardener employed at the graveyard.

** ETA: or possibly not. I may have confused the old Johannisfriedhof (where Bach was buried) with the new Johannisfriedhof aka Friedenspark (if Brymbo is reading this, the new one is nearer to Tarostrasse).
Quote
et avec John, excellent lecteur de road-book, on s'en est sortis sans erreur

Re: The mystery of Haydn's Head
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2020, 12:33:42 pm »
... the bones of the story ...

Aha, I see what you did there. Very clever!