Analyzing the final three decades of Haydn’s career, this book uses the composer as a prism through which to examine urgent questions across the humanities.
With this ambitious book, musicologist Nicholas Mathew uses the remarkable career of Joseph Haydn to consider a host of critical issues: how we tell the history of the Enlightenment and Romanticism; the relation of late-eighteenth-century culture to nascent capitalism and European colonialism; and how the modern market and modern aesthetic values were—and remain—inextricably entwined.
The Haydn Economy weaves a vibrant material history of Haydn’s late career, extending from the sphere of the ancient Esterházy court to his frenetic years as an entrepreneur plying between London and Vienna, to his final decade as a venerable musical celebrity, where he witnessed the transformation of his legacy by a new generation of students and acolytes, Beethoven foremost among them. Ultimately, Mathew claims, Haydn’s historical trajectory compels us to ask what we might usefully retain from the cultural and political practices of European modernity— whether we can extract and preserve its moral promise from its moral failures. And it demands that we confront the deep economic histories that continue to shape our beliefs about music, sound, and material culture.