“Tuning In” is LACO’s signature behind-the-music blurb that gives additional context to the repertoire that the Orchestra performs..
Joseph Haydn is beyond famous. Despite living centuries ago, his music is still played and studied around the world, and his compositional style has changed the shape of music forever. However, history has overlooked the man who helped launch Haydn to his legendary status: Johann Peter Salomon.
Born and raised in Bonn, Beethoven’s hometown, Salomon was a jack of all musical trades. He was a noted violin virtuoso, composer, arranger, orchestra director and concert entrepreneur. Deeply involved in London’s music scene in the late 18th century, Salomon was doing quite well scouting and bringing talent to perform for the city’s nobility. At the same time, Haydn was reaching international prominence as the Esterhazy Court’s brilliant composer.
Naturally, Salomon wanted to lure Haydn to London. He sent a well-known music publisher, John Bland, to purchase scores from the composer in an attempt to convince him to visit the city. Bland’s trip failed. Haydn was extremely happy working for his “beloved prince” and had no interest in selling music to the publisher. Nevertheless, fate was on Salomon’s side: shortly after Bland’s visit, Haydn’s patron Prince Nikolaus died. The Esterhazy House was succeeded by Prince Anton, who promptly fired the entirety of the court’s musicians and sent Haydn into retirement. This freed up the composer to travel and compose as he pleased. In 1791, thanks to Salomon’s persistence, he finally agreed to make the journey.
Ultimately, Haydn’s visits to London helped propel him even further into fame. He rubbed elbows with England’s elite and he met many prominent and up-and-coming composers, such as a young Beethoven. Salomon capitalized on the visit by appearing often as the principal violinist for the premieres of Haydn’s London pieces and by securing the rights to arrange and perform any and all of the works Haydn produced during his visits.
Haydn would go on to establish himself as one of music’s greatest composers, while Salomon would help found the London Philharmonic Society. Despite being a prominent musician and entrepreneur in his own right, Salomon’s achievements are often overshadowed by his associations with composers such as Haydn and Beethoven. His gravestone mentions only one of his many accomplishments: “He brought Haydn to England in 1791 and 1794.”