When Haydn made his two hugely successful visits to London in 1791-2 and 1794-5, he was an international celebrity. As well as being fêted by the Royal Family, he was welcomed into musical society where he made many friends in spite of his poor English.
In particular, he was fond of female company and developed strong friendships with a number of women.
This concert tells the story of Haydn’s relationships with several of these women, some of whom were not only admirers of his music but artists themselves, through the music associated with them. Some of the relationships are preserved through notes and letters, some only through the music itself.
Over all of these friendships is cast the long shadow of Haydn’s long, unhappy marriage to the sister of the woman he had really hoped to wed.
Haydn’s London Ladies – Rebecca Schroeter, Anne Hunter, Therese Jansen, Harriet Abrahams and Emma, Lady Hamilton – are interesting in their own right. They illustrate how precarious the social position of women was at this time. Totally reliant on family or the right kind of husband for status and income, women making any kind of commercial living were regarded with suspicion. Even the most celebrated and comfortably well-off were subject to swift and brutal changes of fortune, as the stories of these Ladies demonstrate.