I have never thought of Franz Joseph Haydn as heroic. Yet he gallantly came to my rescue twice today.
Haydn was a brilliant classical composer, leading the way in the development of things we take so much for granted in music these days, such as the symphony; string quartets; and sonatas. He was a friend of W A Mozart and a teacher of L Van Beethoven.
As a student, I always found his music, either on the violin or the piano, to be a great comfort. It was never easy to play – you had to have your wits about you. But you always knew what you were going to get – 'proper', no-nonsense, classical music.
So I was looking forward to listening to the five Hadyn symphonies which I have on my iPhone – numbers 42, 45, 46, 82 and 83. A rather pitiful representation of his vast repertoire actually, but, as I often say to my dear sister 'it is what it is'.
Little did I realise what a life-saver this music would prove to be.
Firstly, I am the first to be sympathetic when someone has a cough or a cold (well, ok, perhaps not the very first…). But on the 06:55 train from Edinburgh to Newcastle on a Monday morning, I really do not want to be sharing all the gruesome sounds and snorts of a fellow passenger's misfortunes. So on went the headphones and I buried myself in the structured delights of Haydn's offerings feeling very much cheered as I looked out across the Firth of Forth towards the shards of light marking the first signs of dawn.
And then, over twelve hours later, I find myself in the restaurant of the hotel I am staying in tonight, trying to have a quiet meal before retiring to my room. The majority of the other guests are doing likewise. We are all on tables by ourselves, reading books, newspapers, menus. And then a group of young women arrive, intent on having fun in a loud and frolicky way. Good for them. Life is too short to do otherwise. Needless to say the rest of us were not inclined to join in. I decided to do the only decent thing – get busy with old Haydn again. I would not normally eat with headphones on. It felt positively rude actually. But since I was not with anyone else I figured the only person I could possibly be offending was myself, and I found that I didn't mind in the circumstances. So that was ok.
I can therefore recommend Haydn symphonies as the perfect distraction in 'keep calm and carry on' situations. His joyful, expert, melodic, brilliant, charming, moving music is, of course, also suitable in pretty much any other situation too.