Tag Archives: History

Franz Joseph Haydn Composer of the Week

Hyden conducting string quartet

Haydn conducting a string quartet [Britannica.com]


Name: Franz Joseph Haydn

Born:March 31, 1732, Rohrau, Austria (About 46 km South East of Vienna)

Died: May 31, 1809, Vienna, Austria



Nationality: Austrian

Genre: Classical

Famous Works:


Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) was an Austrian composer,
one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. Haydn wrote 107 symphonies in total, as well as 83 string quartets, 45 piano trios, 62 piano sonatas, 14 masses and 26 operas, amongst countless other scores.


Franz Joseph Hayden was the second son of a wheelwright father and cook mother. His musicianship was recognized when he was a young boy. At six he was sent away to a school run by his cousin where he sang in the choir, learned music theory and took lessons on several instruments. In 1740, when Hayden was just 8 he moved to Vienna at the invitation of the music director of St. Stephen’s Cathedral to serve as a choirister.

He stayed at the choir school for nine years, acquiring an enormous
practical knowledge of music by constant performances but, to his disappointment, receiving little instruction in music theory. He had to work hard to fulfill his
obligations as a chorister, and when his voice changed, he was expelled from both the cathedral choir and the choir school. [Britannica.com]

Thus at 17 he was left to fend for himself, working odd musical jobs and teaching himself musical theory. He began to build his reputation as an accompanist and composer. In 1758 he was put in charge of a 16 piece ensemble as music director and chamber composer for Count Ferdinand Maximilian von Morzin. There he wrote his first symphonic work.

Haydn Library of Congress


His next appointment was as assistant conductor to the court of Prince Esterhazy in 1761.  As assistant he “conducted the orchestra and coached the singers in almost daily rehearsals, composed most of the music required, and served as chief of the musical personnel. ” [ibid] He became the musical director in 1766. The Esterhazy family were  well known musical patrons and Haydn remained happily employed with them for over 30 years. Most of his enormous catalog of music (340 hours of it by some accounts) was written during that period.

Hayden and Mozart were both extremely popular in Vienna at the same time and they shared a good natured competition. Both men were inspired by the other’s work and they were friends. Mozart claimed that he learned how to write quartets from Hayden and dedicated a set of six quartets to the older composer. Haydn — already a master of the ‘surprise’ —  admired Mozart’s innovations and creativity and the younger composer’s influence made its way into Haydn’s compositions.

He took two extended trips to England, one in 1791 and one in 1794. Hayden’s musical genius was celebrated on both trips and he was much inspired by the change from Vienna to London. Over the course of his two trips he wrote 12 symphonies including The Surprise Symphony, the Military Symphony [Finale], the London Symphony and the Symphony No. 102 in B flat Major.  King George the Third personally entreated him to stay in London, but the composer returned Vienna and the Esterhazys.

It was on his way back from the first trip in 1792 that he met his most famous student, Beethoven. (Hayden also had a strong influence on the works of Schubert, Mendelssohn and Brahms. )


By Ludwig Guttenbrunn – Photo Nevilley at en.wikipedia. Public Domain

Back in Vienna he put the finishing touches on a new piece, an oratorio, The Creation. It was so popular that Haydn went to work on another, The Seasons [Spring] based on a poem by James Thomson. Originally written in English and then translated into German it could be performed in either language. He wrote six masses,  and more string quartets.

In 1797 he wrote a composition that is perhaps his most performed piece today,“Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser” (“God Save Emperor Francis”). It became the national anthem for Austria then was recycled into “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles” (“Germany, Germany Above All Else”) which is Germany’s national anthem.

As Napoleon took Vienna in 1809 Haydn refused to leave his house. ” Napoleon placed a guard of honour outside Haydn’s house, and the enfeebled composer was much touched by the visit of a French hussars’ officer who sang an aria from The Creation. On May 31 Haydn died peacefully, and he was buried two days later.” [Britannica.com]

By one estimate, Haydn produced some 340 hours of music, more than Bach or HandelMozart or Beethoven. Few of them lack some unexpected detail or clever solution to a formal problem. [AllMusic.com]

800px-Joseph_Haydn by Thomas Hardy 1791

Joseph Haydn by Thomas Hardy, painted in 1791

Musical Output:

  • 108 Symphonies
  • 20 opera
  • 14 masses
  • 6 oratorios
  • 68 String Quartets
  • 2 cello concerti [Cello Concerto in C-Adagio]
  • 32 divertimenti for small orchestra
  • 126 trios for baryton, viola and cello
  • 47 piano sonatas

Haydn began his career composing under a Baroque influence. From there he “adopted the light, gay, and elegant musical style that was popular at the time in Austria”[Britannica.com] Then the darker, more emotional style of north German composers began showing up in his music. When he came into his own maturity as a composer he was able to marry all three styles.


Here is Piano TV’s review of Haydn’s music  including The Piano Sonata  in E-flat major;  Piano trio in G Major in Gypsy trio; 11th Keyboard Concerto in D Major; String Quartet  No. 65 Op. 76 No. in E Major; London Symphony; The Creation Oratorio “In Splendor Bright”


And if you are really sparked to listen to much more Haydn… go to Classicfm.com’s article that ranks his symphonies “in order of greatness“.  The poor guy who got assigned the task to listen to each symphony and do the ranking does a great job of explaining why each one works (or doesn’t) in his opinion. And there is lots of lovely audio.



For a YouTube biography you can go HERE. She does a good job of giving all the facts in a light, quick way. So if you don’t want to read all of my bio, this is a good alternative.


Anne Frank 6.13.13 Thought of the Day

Somehow I missed Anne Frank’s birthday yesterday. So I’m posting her bioBLOG today instead.


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”— Anne Frank

Anne Frank

Anne Frank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Annelies Marie Frank was born on June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Yesterday was the 84th anniversary of her birth.

Anne was the younger daughter of Otto and Edith Frank.  Otto Frank was a “lieutenant in the German Army during World War I who later became a businessman in Germany and the Netherlands..”[Biography.com] Anne’s older sister Margot was three years her senior.

The Franks were upper middle-class German Jews. They lived in a diverse neighborhood. Anne went to school and played with children of various religions. But when the Nazis came to power  in Germany Otto Frank moved his family to Amsterdam.

Anne Frank started at the Montessori School in 1934, and throughout the rest of the 1930s she lived a relatively happy and normal childhood. Frank had many friends, Dutch and German, Jewish and Christian, and she was a bright and inquisitive student. [Ibid]

She particularly liked reading and writing, while Margot liked arithmetic. It was one of the many ways in which the sisters were dissimilar. Anne was outgoing, rambunctious and loud; Margot was reserved, well behaved and quiet.

Germany invased the Netherlands on May 10, 1940. Anne later wrote about the invasion:

“After May 1940, the good times were few and far between; first there was the war, then the capitulation and then the arrival of the Germans, which is when the trouble started for the Jews.”

By October of 1940 Anti-Jewish laws were put into place. Anne and Margot had to leave their schools and attend the Jewish Lyceum.  The family had to sew the yellow Star of David on their clothing and had to follow a curfew. Otto Frank took measures to transfer his businesses to Gentile partners so the companies would not be liquidated.

For her birthday in 1942 Anne’s parents gave her a red and white checkered diary which she dubbed  “Kitty”. Less than a month later Margot was called up for service in a German work camp and the family went into hiding.

English: Reconstruction of the bookcase at the...

English: Reconstruction of the bookcase at the Anne Frank house. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the next two years her family, along with Herman, Auguste and Peter Van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer, lived in the secret annex of one of Otto Frank’s former businesses. Anne…

wrote extensive daily entries in her diary. Some betrayed the depth of despair into which she occasionally sunk during day after day of confinement. “I’ve reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die,” she wrote on February 3, 1944. “The world will keep on turning without me, and I can’t do anything to change events anyway.” However, the act of writing allowed Frank to maintain her sanity and her spirits. “When I write, I can shake off all my cares,” [Biography.com]

The Secret Annex was raided on August 4, 1944 and Anne, her family and the others hiding there were taken to  Camp WesterBork in Northeast Netherlands. On September 3rd, 1944 They were transferred to Auschwitz in Poland. That winter Anne and Margot were transferred to Bergen-Belsen. Both girls contracted typhus and died in March of 1945.

Otto Frank, the only one from the Annex to survive the Camps, returned to Amsterdam after the War. He found Anne’s diary and had selections from it published. It has since been published as a novel, a play and filmed for both television and the big screen.

And so it is that Anne Frank’s words live on 71 years after she began to scribble them down in a little red and white diary.

“Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”

English: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Fra...

English: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank on display at the Anne Frank Zentrum in Berlin, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a terrific look inside Anne’s journey and life inside the Annex go HERE to The Secret Annex On Line

The Battle of Westminster… Corbit’s Charge

Marker for Lieutenant John William Murray, one of two Virginians who lost their lives in the Battle of Westminster.

I wrote this article for AT HOME IN MARYLAND an on-line  magazine. It was originally published last year, but I have updated it for publication here. Permission to reprint the article was given by the publisher. All photos and content are the original work of ritaLOVEStoWRITE.


Westminster, Maryland reenacts Corbit’s Charge every year on the last full weekend in June,
this year it will take place June 23 & 24th.

 What started out as a single afternoon in 2003 has grown to a weekend-long celebration that draws over 2,000 people.  The weekend includes a Civil War encampment; military demonstrations; period music; living history interpretations and  artisans, guided tours, speakers and museum displays relating to the Civil War period. A wreath will be laid at the Corbit’s Charge monument.


Corbit’s Charge took place June 29, 1863 on the outskirts of Westminster. A group of about 90 men from the C and D companies of the Delaware 1st Cavalry skirmished with the vanguard of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart‘s cavalry near what is today East Main Street and Washington Road. The skirmish, also known as, “The Battle of Westminster,” resulted in delaying Stuart from getting to Gettysburg, and may have cost the South the battle.

So what was the battle all about?

For two weeks J.E.B. Stuart and his cavalry were busy collecting provisions and information and harassing the Union’s rear echelon in Northern Virginia and Maryland.  He was essentially charged with a surveillance mission but he was just as happy to raid, and he was up to no end of trouble as he made his way up to a rendezvous point with General Jubal Early in York, Pa.  He destroyed a portion of the C&O canal  here… dismantled a telegraph lines there… attacked an 8-mile-long wagon train of Union supplies here… Stuart was a busy guy.

It was clear that the Federals had a column of men heading north through Frederick, and he tried twice to alert Gen. Robert E.  Lee to the advancing troops – He was Lee’s eyes and ears after all — but neither missive made it to Lee.

So Stuart pointed his horses toward the rendezvous in York, and headed the Rebel Calvary toward Westminster.

Unlike their battle hardened Rebel counterparts, the 1st Delaware Calvary had seen light action thus far, serving for the most part in the defense of Baltimore prior to moving northwest to Carroll County. Mustered in January, 1863, the 1st Delaware Calvary couldn’t come up with a full complement of 10 horse companies.  They scraped together seven small companies and those seven were reassembled into four active companies. Under the leadership of Major Napoleon Bonaparte Knight, Companies C and D arrived in Westminster to bolster a small garrison from 150th New York to protect the railroad depot for the Western Maryland Railroad line. They arrived at about 11 a.m on June 28. It was quiet warm Sunday.

They set up camp in the “Commons” on the north side of town, near what is now McDaniel College. The area was on high ground and provided the Union troops with a good view of both the town and the roads leading to it from Taneytown, Uniontown, New Windsor and Gettysburg.  Pickets were placed along the roads leading to town and the Delaware troops settled in, assured that they would be warned of any Rebel movement.

The Opera House was used by Lt. Pulaski Bowman and the New Yorkers as their head quarters.

Lieutenant Pulaski Bowman, who was in charge of the New York Provost Guard reported to Knight that there was no enemy about either in Gettysburg or Hanover. The Major, satisfied that all was secure, retired to the Westminster Hotel and Tavern, his unofficial  headquarters and settled in for some local comfort. There were some disturbances in the night, with reports coming in from the Hampstead and Manchester road pickets that the Southern cavalry was advancing, but investigation failed to turn up any Southerners. The Union troops settled in for the night. With the next day looking equally uneventful, Major Knight ordered the battalion’s blacksmiths to attend to the horses, many of whom had thrown shoes on the rough road from Baltimore.

Stuart needed to travel through Westminster to get to Lee. He knew that the information he had on the Union Army’s whereabouts was vital to the General’s tactical planning. One little bit of the Union Force he was unaware of was the small group of Blue Coats from Delaware in his way. He found out about them just after 4 p.m. when his forces overcame and captured a handful of pickets on the ridge road.

The advance guard of the Confederates under Fitzhugh Lee (General Lee’s nephew) entered the town and captured five of the Delawareans at Michael Baumann’s Blacksmith Shop. Again the Yankees were prevented from alerting their superiors. But  Isaac Pearson, a young lawyer from the town, who saw the Rebel force,  took quick action and reported them to the Yankees. Knight was unaccounted for, whether he was sick, inebriated or just flat out hiding is unclear (he had originally signed up to fight for the South, but deserted to fight for the North early in the War.) So when the warning cry rang out he was spared the glory of leading less than a hundred men against Stuart’s thousands.  That honor fell to Captain Charles Corbit.

Corbit was twenty-five years old, tall, strong, and well liked by his company of 4 officers and 89 enlisted men. Some of those men were out at the pickets, some were left mountless as their horses were being tended to and others had already been captured. He rallied what remained of his subordinates at the top of Main Street and moved east to find the enemy. Corbit sent Lt. D.W.C. Clark ahead with a scouting party of a dozen men.

Lt. Clark went through downtown, passing the blacksmith shop and turning left on Washington Road where they encountered Fitzhugh Lee and the front of Stuart’s force. Clark quickly turned around and rushed back to Corbit to report his findings… There was a LARGE contingent of Southern gentlemen just around the corner!

Instead of retreating Corbit drew his sword. He led his men head on against  the hordes of Confederates.

What little luck Corbit had on his side– besides the loyalty of his troops and his own bravado–was the layout of that area of town.  Washington Road hit Main Street at an odd angle and there was a sturdy fence that squeezed the cavalry men together into a narrower field of battle.

The other Delaware company, Company D, under Lt. Caleb Churchman, heard the gunfire and quickly joined the battle. But the Northerners were still hopelessly outnumbered.

The battle was fierce and short-lived. Corbit and his men fought off two or three countercharges before the sheer overwhelming number of Rebels won the day.

The Southerners pushed the 1st Delaware back up Main Street.

Corbit’s horse was shot out from beneath him and he was captured along with most of his company.

A few of the Yankees, including Major Knight, escaped toward Baltimore on the Reisterstown Road (Baltimore Pike)  a swarm of Confederate riders in hot pursuit. This caused some alarm in the city when the fleeing troops warned that the Confederates were about to invade.

The Trumbo/Chrest House was in the thick of the action. There are still bullet holes in the side of the building.

The more practical outcome of the battle was that two officers from the 4th Virginia Calvary  and two privates from the 1st Delaware lay dead on the dusty streets of Westminster. (One of those Virginians, 1st Lt. John William Murry, Co. E. 4th Virginia Calvary, C.S.A., is buried in the Ascension Episcopal Church cemetery at 23 North Court Street.)  11 men were wounded and almost all the Northerners were taken as Prisoners of War, including Captain Corbit,  Lt. Churchman and Lt. Bowman. The Southerners overtook the camp at the Commons and confiscated supplies, both army issue and private, and intelligence.  The town and the surrounding farms were likewise foraged for supplies.

Then Stuart stopped for the night. For the first time in five days both the men and the horses in Stuart’s column had enough to eat and a chance to rest.

The Confederates continued on to Hanover  the next day, where Stuart paroled Corbit and Chruchman, and continued on to meet up with General Lee in Gettysburg.

But, did The Battle of Westminster delay Stuart from reaching Lee at Gettysburg?  Historian Eric J. Wittenberg thinks so. “That foolhardy charge cost Stuart half a day of critical time on his march. It absolutely had an effect on the time of Stuart’s arrival at Gettysburg,”

Still Wittenberg thinks  “Stuart did everything he reasonably could  to link up with Lee.”

So why does Stuart get so much of the blame for the South’s failure at Gettysburg? “The Calvary’s main job at that point of the Civil War was raiding and scouting,” Says Civil War enthusiast George Baker, III, adding, “Stuart’s lack of communication  basically left Lee blind in enemy territory, so he (Lee) didn’t know exactly where the Army of the Potomac was going prior to Gettysburg. The first day he didn’t know whether he was going up against a division or the entire army. That could have been the game changer of the battle.  Lee never publicly blamed Stuart for the battle’s loss, but When Stuart showed up late at Gettysburg…it was the closest Lee ever came to chewing anyone out.”

A Civil War history buff reads the Corbit’s Charge marker on Westminster’s Main Street.

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