ABOUT THIS BOOK
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.
In this far-reaching work of music history and criticism, Nicholas Mathew reimagines the world of Joseph Haydn and his contemporaries, with its catastrophic upheavals and thrilling sense of potential. In the process, Mathew tackles critical questions of particular moment: how we tell the history of the European Enlightenment and Romanticism; the relation of late eighteenth-century culture to incipient 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 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, during which he witnessed the transformation of his legacy by a new generation of students and acolytes, Beethoven foremost among them. Ultimately, Mathew asserts, Haydn’s historical trajectory compels us to ask what we might 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 histories of capitalism that continue to shape our beliefs about music, sound, and material culture.