Franz Joseph Haydn’s English Songs: The Canzonettas

Haydn’s English songs, The Canzonettas, are an important collection of Franz Joseph Haydn’s work and a true turning point in the development of the Art Song.  IPA Source offers the IPA text for all 12 of Haydn’s English Canzonettas.

(Image source: Haydn’s English songs: the canzonettas by Ray Heigemeir, Public Services Librarian for Music, Stanford University,

Upon the death of his court benefactor, Prince Nikolaus, in 1790, Haydn was sent in to retirement by the prince’s unmusical successor. Still at the height of his fame and musical abilities, Haydn chose rather to accept an invitation by the German composer and impresario, Johann Peter Salomon to present his new symphonies with a orchestra before an already adoring public in London. Thus, Josef Haydn, the longtime court composer, began his new life as an independent musician.

Haydn Meets Poet, Anne Hunter

The journeys (1791–1792 and 1794–1795) were a great success, garnishing Haydn both fame and fortune. For the development of the Art Song, his time in London had special significance where he made the acquaintance of the vastly improved pianoforte Broadwood and the poet, Anne Hunter, wife of the renowned surgeon and anatomist Dr. John Hunter.

The English pianoforte was truly a revelation for Haydn whose previous keyboard works were written for the Viennese Stein pianoforte with a much lighter touch and tone more akin to the clavichord and harpsichord than the modern piano. The English instrument possessed a stronger, more robust tone capable of a greater range of dynamics and sustaining power. Anne Hunter was already a successful and influential lyric poet, known for her social literary parties, when Haydn arrived.

A True Turning Point In The Development Of The Art Song

The result of this fortunate professional collaboration with Mrs. Hunter and the new possibilities presented by the more powerful English pianoforte was a true turning point in the development of the Art Song. Whereas Beethoven is credited with the development of the first song cycle, it was Haydn with the English canzonettas who gave us the first marriage of keyboard, voice and poetry which was to become the hallmark of the 19th century Art song.

‘It seems clear that Haydn’s intention was to compose technically easy songs which could be sung at sight by any educated music-lover and played on the piano a prima vista by the average lady of musical inclination … Haydn’s earlier Lieder had not been entirely successful, for the texts were generally second-rate – in accordance with the prevailing bad literary taste in Vienna at the time – and some of the criticisms in German literary and musical journals had been distinctly unfavourable. The English texts by Mrs Hunter, although in the pastoral-cum-sentimental English tradition, are far better than Haydn’s previous German texts. Musically, too, the English Canzonettas are worlds away from the kleinbürgerliche literary trash which Haydn, who like Leonardo used to call himself “un uomo senza lettere”, indiscriminately set to music’ (H. C. Robbins Landon, Haydn: Chronicle and Works. [Vol. III] Haydn in England, 1791-1795 (1976), pp. 377-8).

– From Bernard Quaritch Ltd. rare books:


IPA Text of Haydn’s Canzonettas


Sailor’s Song, as set by Franz Joseph Haydn Sailor’s Song, as set by Franz Joseph Haydn


A Pastoral Song, as set by Franz Joseph Haydn


Piercing Eyes, as set by Franz Joseph Haydn


The Spirit’s Song, as set by Franz Joseph Haydn


The Mermaid’s Song, as set by Franz Joseph Haydn


Despair, as set by Franz Joseph Haydn


Fidelity, as set by Franz Joseph Haydn


O Tuneful Voice, as set by Franz Joseph Haydn


Content, as set by Franz Joseph Haydn


Recollection, as set by Franz Joseph Haydn


She Never Told Her Love, as set by Franz Joseph Haydn


The Wanderer, as set by Franz Joseph Haydn


Sympathy, as set by Franz Joseph Haydn



Interested in more from Papa Haydn? View our entire collection of IPA texts as set by Franz Joseph Haydn on IPA Source here.

13 thoughts on “Franz Joseph Haydn’s English Songs: The Canzonettas

  1. I have read your article carefully and I agree with you very much. This has provided a great help for my thesis writing, and I will seriously improve it. However, I don’t know much about a certain place. Can you help me?

  2. At the beginning, I was still puzzled. Since I read your article, I have been very impressed. It has provided a lot of innovative ideas for my thesis related to Thank u. But I still have some doubts, can you help me? Thanks.

  3. I am a website designer. Recently, I am designing a website template about The boss’s requirements are very strange, which makes me very difficult. I have consulted many websites, and later I discovered your blog, which is the style I hope to need. thank you very much. Would you allow me to use your blog style as a reference? thank you!

  4. I may need your help. I’ve been doing research on gate io recently, and I’ve tried a lot of different things. Later, I read your article, and I think your way of writing has given me some innovative ideas, thank you very much.

Comments are closed.