Haydn wrote the Kaiserhymne to Emperor Franz ll when Austria was endangered by France. "Gott
erhalte Franz den Kaiser" was first performed on the Emperor's birthday, February 12, 1797. It
proved popular, and came to serve unofficially as Austria's first national anthem. The melody is also
the second movement of one of Haydn's "Emperor Quartet" and was later used in Das Lied der
Deutschen, which is still Germany's national anthem. Its lyrics adapted through the years. This is the
later version.
According to his servant Johann Elssler, Haydn was especially fond of it and it was the last music he
ever played. It was used for official purposes in Austria until it was abolished along with the
monarchy in 1919.
Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser,
Unsern guten Kaiser Franz,
Hoch als Herrscher,
hoch als Weiser,
Steht er in des Ruhmes Glanz;
Liebe windet Lorbeerreiser
Ihm zum ewig grünen Kranz.
Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser,
Unsern guten Kaiser Franz!
Über blühende Gefilde
Reicht sein Scepter weit und breit;
Säulen seines Throns sind milde,
Biedersinn und Redlichkeit,
Und von seinem Wappenschilde
Strahlet die Gerechtigkeit.
Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser,
Unsern guten Kaiser Franz!
Sich mit Tugenden zu schmücken,
Achtet er der Sorgen werth,
Nicht um Völker zu erdrücken
Flammt in seiner Hand das Schwert:
Sie zu segnen, zu beglücken,
Ist der Preis, den er begehrt,
Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser,
Unsern guten Kaiser Franz!
Er zerbrach der Knechtschaft Bande,
Hob zur Freiheit uns empor!
Früh' erleb' er deutscher Lande,
Deutscher Völker höchsten Flor,
Und vernehme noch am Rande
Später Gruft der Enkel Chor:
Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser,
Unsern guten Kaiser Franz!
Haydn and the Kaiserhymne
Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser
On May 31, 1809, Haydn died of exhaustion at his house in Vienna. He is regarded by some as
father of the symphony and the string quartet, and although he did not originate them, he took both
genres from their beginnings to a high level of sophistication. His style of development laid the
foundations for the larger structures of Beethoven.
Franz Joseph Haydn, the son of a wheelwright, was born in Rohrau on the Leitha on March 31,
1732. He attended the choir school of St. Stephen's in Vienna and received an elementary musical
education. He remained largely self taught. Living in Vienna, he made several important social
connections, notably with the royal Esterhazy family who would sponsor him. Haydn married, but
had no children. Haydn and Mozart were friends and Mozart dedicated string quartets to Haydn. He
was well known, widely travelled, and hugely popular, yet some of his music remains unpublished
and little known.