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Thursday, April 5, 2018

AN INTERVIEW WITH COMPOSER AND AMATEUR SLEUTH FRANZ JOSEPH HADYN

Austrian composer Franz Joseph Hadyn, known to many a piano student as Papa Hadyn, is the central figure of author Nupur Tustin’s Joseph Haydn Mysteries. Today he sits down with us for an interview.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
It was no less busy than it is now, Frau Pollack. But most certainly, there were far fewer corpses. In the space of a few months, I have encountered two dead violinists—both brutally murdered—and had barely recovered from the ordeal when Frau Tustin informed me that a close associate of mine, Kaspar, had been killed.

Just a few days ago, Johann, my youngest brother, and I discovered Count Seckendorff, the imperial ambassador to Prussia, lying dead in a pool of his own blood within the Katholische Kirche St. Anna in Potsdam.

Before I met Frau Tustin, the petty squabbling amongst my musicians and the demands of His Serene Highness, the gracious Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, were all that I had to contend with. But now, thanks to her, I have even been compelled to see my wife accused of murder.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
Ach, Frau Pollack! How can you ask a man to praise himself? But if the question must be answered, I would say it is my diligence. It has pleased God that people as far as France and England should find pleasure in my music. It has also pleased God to grant me great wealth.

My father, as you know, was a wheelwright. My mother a mere cook. When I was but a poor lad in Vienna with barely two kreutzers to rub together, I never thought I should own a house and a kitchen garden. I never imagined that the Empress herself would hear my music and praise my operas. All this and more I have achieved solely through God’s Grace and hard work.

What do you like least about yourself?
If I could rid myself of the pockmarks on my face and the unsightly polyp on my nose, Frau Pollack, you would find me the happiest man alive. But, in all truth, I would rather be a good musician than a handsome man.

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
Why, the corpses that she has me discover! Is that not strange? That a mere musician should be called upon to solve crimes that are best left to Bürgermeisters and Amtsrichters? That a Kapellmeister should be called upon to act as Kapell-detective? But Frau Tustin has an uncommon fondness for mysteries and delights in mixing murder with music!

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
I never argue with women, Frau Pollack. My experience with my wife, Maria Anna, has taught me that, if nothing else. Frau Tustin, for all her abilities, has sometimes a tendency to not see or hear what her characters are doing. She writes a scene in one way, quite oblivious to what was actually said or done.

I have found it useful to quietly refuse to go any further until she has seen the error of her ways. When she frets at what she refers to as “writer’s block,” Johann suggests she go for a walk or meditate. And, then, when her mind is quiet, she is able to see and hear what was actually said. By these means, I have ensured she tells our story as it should be told.

Writers, no less than musicians, Frau Pollack, must be managed with a light hand. With patience, it can be done.

What is your greatest fear?
Most men would say death, but death comes to us all. I have never feared it. But ever since I began to show some small ability in resolving mysteries, my musicians, His Serene Highness, and, indeed, the Empress herself have shown such trust in my abilities, I fear to fail them.

I fear I might trust the wrong man or mistrust a just person. What if my error were to rob an innocent man of his reputation and send him to his death? That is not something I could live with.

What makes you happy?
Music, of course. And to hear a group of men, even in an inn, play a minuet of mine brings me such joy! When Frau Genzinger arranges one of my symphonies or quartets for the piano and then sends me the work, why, that brings me more joy than you can imagine, Frau Pollack.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
I wish Kaspar had not had to die. I wish I had heeded his request. I was so skeptical that his bequest contained any of Monteverdi’s operas—who could believe such a thing possible?—I asked him to wait until I had attended upon Her Majesty at Schönbrunn.

The danger might have been averted if only I had taken the chest of scores off his hands. It is my fault he is dead. I will always hold myself responsible for that.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
Maria Anna, my wife has her faults, but it is Herr Rahier, the Estates Director, who grates on my nerves the most. Were the matter left to his hands, every one of my singers and instrumentalists would find themselves out of a job. The man takes exception to the most trifling matters, threatens a fine or dismissal, and refuses to listen to reason until the Prince himself intervenes.

Herr Rahier, you must know, took great exception to my hiring Bartó Daboczi instead of his nephew. But, of course, Bartó took himself off. And no sooner had he done so than Herr Rahier took the opportunity to foist his nephew Albert on me. I had never met a man with such a talent for making a Stadlmann violin sound like the ungodly caterwauling of a tomcat.

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
For all that Frau Tustin puts me through, there is no one else I would rather be. There is a strange satisfaction in bringing justice to the world. It is as much a calling as my music. If there are people in this world who need my help, I will not refuse it. I will not fail them. How can I?

When Chormeister Reutter turned me out of St. Stephen’s, when I had nowhere to turn, there were countless friends with little enough to offer who took me in. The Spanglers and the Kellers. I shall never forget their aid. Without it, I would not have survived.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
Frau Tustin plays the piano and composes music and has developed a strange fondness—ever since we started working together—for forensic investigation and true crime. She maintains a web site at http://ntustin.com. She also maintains a blog that she whimsically refers to as the Haydn Blog where she shares details of my life and of many of my contemporaries and predecessors. This can be found at http://ntustin.com/blog.

She has written Haydn short stories as well. “Anna’s Potion” was published in Kings River Life Magazine and can be read at: http://kingsriverlife.com/02/10/annas-potion-a-valentines-day-mystery-short-story/

“A Whiff of Murder” is available as a free download at http://ntustin.com/tasteofmurder

And “The Baker’s Boy,” my very first venture into crime, can be found in an anthology edited by Kaye George, Day of the Dark.

What's next for you?
I have, unfortunately, yet another investigation to conduct. Count Seckendorff, the imperial ambassador to Prussia, was found murdered the very night of our arrival in Potsdam. A coincidence so suspicious, I fear the magistrate seems to think Johann and I might be responsible for the incident.

Not that I can blame him. I would find the circumstance suspicious myself. And after what I discovered—

I beg your pardon. These are details that can only be revealed to Her Majesty. And I fear I have said too much already. I thank you, Frau Pollack, for our little chat. But I must take my leave now. Matters of pressing importance await.

Aria to Death
A Joseph Haydn Mystery,  Book 2
Preoccupied with preparations for the opera season at Eszterháza, Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn receives a curious request from a friend in Vienna. Kaspar, an impoverished violinist with an ailing wife, wishes him to evaluate a collection of scores reputed to be the lost operas of Monteverdi.

Haydn is intrigued until the Empress Maria Theresa summons him with a similar request. Skeptical of the value of Kaspar’s bequest, Haydn nevertheless offers to help.
But before he can examine the works, Kaspar is murdered—beaten and left to die in front of a wine tavern.

The police are quick to dismiss the death as a robbery gone wrong. But Haydn is not so sure. Could Kaspar's bequest be genuine after all? And can Haydn find the true operas—and the man willing to kill for them?

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4 comments:

NT said...

Thanks for hosting us, Lois and Anastasia. Haydn enjoyed taking time off from his investigation in Potsdam.

Nupur Tustin (on behalf of the Kapell-detective)

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

We're always happy to have you and Herr Hadyn stop by for a visit.

Gail Farrelly said...


LOL. This was fun, Nupur.

My sister is into both music and mysteries. As a gift, I bought her both A MINOR DECEPTION
and ARIA TO DEATH. She loved them.

NT said...

Thanks for visiting, Gail! I'm so glad you enjoyed Haydn's interview, and I'm absolutely delighted to hear your sister read and loved both Haydn Mysteries. You made my day!
Nupur