GHDI logo
German History in Documents and Images
return to system

Joseph Haydn in the Year 1806 (1810)
The French revolutionary government made skillful use of various symbols, means, and tactics to win the public over to its cause. In its attempts to spark popular enthusiasm, the French national anthem, the “Marseillaise,” served the government well. The song was sung by inexperienced French revolutionary troops who, after suffering some initial defeats, began to win a series of important victories against the professionally trained Prussian and Austrian armies in the fall of 1792. Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) eventually provided his government with its own rousing anti-Marseillaise, “God Save Emperor Francis” [“Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser”], which was first performed in 1797. The song became the Austrian and later (with lyrics from August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben [1798-1874]) the German national anthem. This pro-monarchist composition stands as a musical complement to the large-scale anti-revolutionary publicistic efforts by figures such as Friedrich von Gentz and others. Stipple engraving by Carl August Schwerdgeburth (1785-1878), c. 1810.