There have been a number of attempts over the past fifty years to put up a plaque to Haydn in London but none has succeeded, perhaps because there are no original buildings left with which he is associated. However, the Haydn Society of Great Britain has been granted permission to put a plaque on the building occupying the site of 18, Great Pulteney Street in Soho.
We know from Haydn's letters and diaries that he lived in a house on this spot when he first arrived in 1791, in rooms arranged for him by his promoter, Salomon. We also know he found 18th-century Soho very noisy, just as it still is today! But don't just take our word for it - below is part of a BBC documentary on Haydn from 2009 presented by Charles Hazlewood.
It's hard to over-estimate the importance of Haydn to the development of classical music. Often referred to as "the Father of the Symphony" for the contribution he made to the development of that genre, 'Papa' Haydn is equally remembered for his influence on the development of the string quartet. Haydn's music forms the the foundations on which Mozart and Beethoven built their greatest work. Here's a 2011 BBC documentary on the development of the symphony, which starts with Haydn and his visit to London, 'the first ever bona-fide musical superstar'
The Haydn Society will commission a plaque from Ned Heywood MBE, a respected manufacturer responsible for many similar plaques across London (and all the square plaques in the City of London). We have discussed the design at great length and arrived at the following which is in keeping with guidelines suggested by English Heritage (though this plaque will not be an EH-affiliated memorial) and in common with the majority of comparable plaques in London. It will look something like this:
We are doing this independently of any official plaque scheme and so we need to raise all the money ourselves. This will be the first permanent commemoration of Haydn's presence in London and his huge contribution to the cultural life of the city. The original subscribers to his Hanover Square Rooms concerts were attracted equally by his reputation and his musical genius - we want to acknowledge both of these in a lasting memorial. We invite you to help us make it a reality.
Discover more about the project here.
Please note that your pledge receipt may say "... we will process your payment to BARBENENA LIMITED" - this is the company of the Haydn Society's treasurer for this campaign.
Risks and challenges
While we can't be sure what the obstacles have been to previous attempts to put up a plaque to Haydn, all of them would have required the permission of the legal owner of the building in question. In the case of 18 Great Pulteney Street we are delighted at the support we have received. We have agreed responsibility for the future maintenance of the plaque's condition by the Haydn Society. Should the building change hands, or be pulled down, the Haydn Society will reclaim the plaque.
The manufacturer's reputation is impeccable (he enjoys a good working relationship with others who have commissioned his work, sometimes many times over). Very occasionally a plaque is damaged during the firing process, in which case we would have to wait for a replacement, but this would not materially affect our plans to unveil the plaque in Spring or early Summer 2015.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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