Franz Joseph Haydn


Born: 1732   Died: 1809   Country: Austria   Period: Classical
Franz Joseph Haydn is the composer who, more than any other, epitomizes the aims and achievements of the Classical era. Perhaps his most important achievement was that he developed and evolved in countless subtle ways the most influential structural principle in the history of music: his perfection of the set of expectations known as sonata form made an epochal impact. In hundreds of instrumental sonatas, string quartets, and symphonies, Haydn Read more both broke new ground and provided durable models; indeed, he was among the creators of these fundamental genres of classical music. His influence upon later composers is immeasurable; Haydn's most illustrious pupil, Beethoven, was the direct beneficiary of the elder master's musical imagination, and Haydn's shadow lurks within (and sometimes looms over) the music of composers like Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Brahms.

Part and parcel of Haydn's formal mastery was his famous sense of humor, his feeling for the unpredictable, elegant twist. In the Symphony No. 94 ("Surprise") (1791), the composer tweaks those audience members who typically fall asleep during slow movements with the sudden, completely unexpected intrusion of a fortissimo chord during a passage of quietude. Haydn's pictorial sense is much in evidence works like his epic oratorio The Creation (1796-1798), in which images of the cosmos taking shape are thrillingly, movingly portrayed in tones. By one estimate, Haydn produced some 340 hours of music, more than Bach or Handel, Mozart or Beethoven. Few of them lack some unexpected detail or clever solution to a formal problem.

Haydn was prolific not just because he was a tireless worker with an inexhaustible musical imagination, but also because of the circumstances of his musical career: he was the last prominent beneficiary of the system of noble patronage that had nourished European musical composition since the Renaissance. Born in the small Austrian village of Rohrau, he became a choirboy at St. Stephen's cathedral in Vienna when he was eight. After his voice broke and he was turned out of the choir, he eked out a precarious living as a teenage freelance musician in Vienna. His fortunes began to turn in the late 1750s as members of Vienna's noble families became aware of his music, and on May 1, 1761, he went to work for the Esterházy family. He remained in their employ for the next 30 years, writing many of his instrumental compositions and operas for performance at their vast summer palace, Esterháza.

Musical creativity may often, it is true, meet a tragic end, but Haydn lived long enough to reap the rewards of his own imagination and toil. The Esterházys curtailed their musical activities in 1790, but by that time Haydn was known all over Europe and widely considered the greatest living composer. (He himself deferred to Mozart in that regard, and the friendly competition between the two composers deepened the music of both.) Two trips to London during the 1790s resulted in two sets of six symphonies each (among them the "Surprise" symphony) that remain centerpieces of the orchestral repertoire. Haydn's final masterpieces included powerful choral works: the Creation and Seasons oratorios and a group of six masses. Haydn stopped composing in 1803, after which he prefaced his correspondence with a little musical quotation (from one of his part-songs) bearing the text "Gone is all my strength; I am old and weak." He died in Vienna on May 31, 1809. Read less
Bernstein Conducts Haydn - London Symphonies
Release Date: 11/06/2012   Label: Sony (Nax615)  
Catalog: 1991762   Number of Discs: 5
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Haydn: Symphonies 1-75, 94, 96, 100, 104, 107, 108 / Hogwood, AAM
Release Date: 04/14/2015   Label: L'oiseau Lyre  
Catalog: 002295902   Number of Discs: 32
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Haydn: Complete Masses, Stabat Mater
Release Date: 02/03/2015   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 002260302   Number of Discs: 8
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Il Filosofo - Music of Haydn and W.F. Bach / Antonini, Il Giardino Armonico
Release Date: 06/30/2015   Label: Alpha Productions  
Catalog: 671   Number of Discs: 1
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Haydn: Complete Recordings / Pinnock, English Concert
Release Date: 10/14/2014   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 002156002   Number of Discs: 12
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Work: Emperor Quartet


I. Allegro
II. Poco adagio, cantabile
III. Menuetto: Allegro
IV. Finale: Presto
About This Work
This is both the most popular and most notorious of Haydn's string quartets, all because of the second movement, a beautiful hymn that was later misappropriated by the twentieth century's most evil regime. Back in the late eighteenth century, Read more Napoleon was posing a serious threat to the Hapsburg empire; after his armies raided Styria in 1796 Haydn was driven to a burst of nationalism. He set patriotic words by L.L. Haschka as a so-called Kaiserlied, and had an immediate hit on his hands. He determined to write all the "popularized" arrangements himself, including one for string quartet. This became the slow movement of the third quartet of his opus 76 set. The moving, noble melody has been too good to pass up. Later composers, including Czerny and Smetana, incorporated it into works of their own. And a few decades after the Austrian empire finally collapsed, Germany's Nazis commandeered the melody for the song "Deutschland über alles." This limited the quartet's popularity among the Allies during and immediately after World War II, but the taint soon washed away.

The whole quartet seems to be a patriotic effort once you realize that the first bar of the opening Allegro is a musical anagram. Its notes correspond to the first letters of the words "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser" (with "Caesar" apparently filling in for "Kaiser"); this is the opening line of the Kaiserlied on which the second movement is based. This is hardly obvious unless you examine the score, for all you hear is a bright, bouncy C-major tune that the first violin soon appropriates with an obsessive dotted rhythm. In the late eighteenth century, by the way, that rhythm was symbolically associated with royal occasions. All the movement's principal thematic matter is derived from this small bit of music. The development section includes a characteristically Haydnesque surprise: an E-major Hungarian scene with a gypsy-like accompaniment of strong accents on weak beats. This was Haydn's nod to the Hungarian aristocrats who employed Haydn and commissioned these quartets; they were footing a big part of the bill for the emperor's war against Napoleon.

The second movement, Poco adagio-cantabile, begins with an especially sweet statement of the Emperor Hymn, then puts it through four variations. The first is a quiet but ornate elaboration for the first violin, while the second fiddle plays the theme in its original form. The next variation shifts the theme down to the cello, with the viola and second violin providing harmony and the first violin offering counterpoint. The viola finally gets its own statement of the theme in the third variation while the top and bottom instruments wind around it. Finally comes a richly harmonized version of the theme with more elaborate inner voices than in the beginning, but nothing as complex as what has come in between.

The Minuet is a good-humored drawing-room dance, marked especially by a slightly mocking downward-drifting figure in the first violin. The trio is a cautious- sounding variation of the Minuet's main theme.

The Presto finale thrusts us into what one analyst has described as a C-minor battle scene: Franz vs. Napoleon. The movement does begin with three loud, jagged chords and eventually has the first violin fire off a barrage of eighth notes, but there's little explicitly militaristic about the music. After this material is intensely developed, the main themes return in a C major version that certainly sounds optimistic, though not necessarily triumphant.

-- James Reel
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ArkivMusic Recommendation


Franz Joseph Haydn

1. Adagio - Vivace assai
2. Andante
3. Menuet (Allegro molto)
4. Finale (Allegro di molto)
Symphony No. 104 in D major, 'London' (1992 Digital Remaster): I. Adagio - Allegro
Symphony No. 104 in D major, 'London' (1992 Digital Remaster): II. Andante
Symphony No. 104 in D major, 'London' (1992 Digital Remaster): III. Menuet
Symphony No. 104 in D major, 'London' (1992 Digital Remaster): IV. Spiritoso
1. Adagio - Presto
2. Andante
3. Menuet (Allegretto) - Trio
4. Finale (Vivace)
1. Adagio - Allegro
2. Allegretto
3. Menuet (Moderato)
4. Finale ( Presto)
I. Allegro
II. Poco adagio, cantabile
III. Menuetto: Allegro
IV. Finale: Presto
Haydn: String Quartet in D minor, H.III, Op.76 No.2 - "Fifths" - 1. Allegro
Haydn: String Quartet in D minor, H.III, Op.76 No.2 - "Fifths" - 2. Andante o piů tosto allegretto
Haydn: String Quartet in D minor, H.III, Op.76 No.2 - "Fifths" - 3. Minuetto
Haydn: String Quartet in D minor, H.III, Op.76 No.2 - "Fifths" - 4. Finale (Vivace assai)
I. Allegro
II. Adagio
III. Finale. Presto
Part I: Die Vorstellung des Chaos (The Representation of Chaos) (Raphael, Uriel, Chorus)
Part I: Nun schwanden vor dem heiligen Strahle (Now vanish before the holy beams) (Uriel, Chorus)
Part I: Und Gott machte das Firmament (And God made the firmament) (Raphael)
Part I: Chorus: Mit Staunen sieht das Wunderwerk (The marv'lous work beholds amaz'd (Gabriel)
Part I: Und Gott sprach: Es sammle sich das Wasser (And God said: Let the waters under the heaven) (Raphael)
Part I: Rollend in schaumenden Wellen (Rolling in foaming billows) (Raphael)
Part I: Und Gott sprach: Es bringe die Erde Gras hervor (And God said: Let all the earth bring forth grass) (Gabriel)
Part I: Nun beut die Flur das frische Grun (With verdure clad the fields appear) (Gabriel)
Part I: Und die himmlischen Heerscharen (And the Heav'nly host proclaimed the third day) (Uriel)
Part I: Stimmt an die Saiten (Awake the harp) (Chorus)
Part I: Und Gott sprach: Es seien Lichter an der Feste des Himmels (And God said: Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven) (Uriel)
Part I: In vollem Glanze steiget jetzt die Sonne (In splendour bright is rising now the sun) (Uriel)
Part I: Die Himmel erzahlen die Ehre Gottes (The heavens are telling the glory of God) (Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, Chorus)
Part II: Und Gott sprach: Es bringe das Wasser in der Fulle hervor (And God said: Let the waters bring forth abundantly) (Gabriel)
Part II: Auf starkem Fittiche schwinget sich der Adler stolz (On mighty pens uplifted soars the eagle aloft) (Gabriel)
Part II: Und Gott schuf grosse Walfische (And God created great whales) (Raphael)
Part II: Und die Engel ruhrten ihre unsterblichten Harfen (And the angels struck their immortal harps) (Raphael)
Part II: In holder Anmut stehn (Most beautiful appear) (Trio) / Der Herr ist gross (The Lord is great) (Trio and Chorus)
Part II: Der Herr ist gross (The Lord is great) (Trio and Chorus)
Part II: Und Gott sprach: Es bringe die Erde hervor lebende Geschopfe (And God said: Let the earth bring forth the living creature) (Raphael)
Part II: Gleich offnet sich der Erde Schoss (Straight opening her fertile womb) (Raphael)
Part II: Nun scheint in vollem Glanze der Himmel (Now heav'n in fullest glory shone) (Raphael)
Part II: Und Gott schuf den Menschen nach seinem Ebenbilde (And God created man in his own image) (Uriel)
Part II: Mit Wurd' und Hoheit angetan (In native worth and honour clad) (Uriel)
Part II: Und Gott sah jedes Ding, was er gemacht hatte (And God saw ev'rything that he had made) (Raphael)
Part II: Vollendet ist das gorsse werk (Achieved is the glorious work) (Chorus)
Part II: Zu dir, o Herr, blickt alles auf (All look up to thee, O Lord) (Trio)
Part II: Vollendet ist das grosse Werk (Achieved is the glorious work) (Chorus)
Part III: Aus Rosenwolken (In rosy mantle appears) (Uriel)
Part III: Von deiner Gut', o Herr und Gott (By thee with bliss, O bounteous Lord) (Eve, Adam, Chorus)
Part III: Nun ist die erste Pflicht erfullt (Our duty we performed now) (Adam, Eve)
Part III: Holde Gattin! (Graceful consort!) (Adam, Eve)
Part III: O glucklich Paar (O happy pair) (Uriel)
Part III: Singt dem Herren alle Stimmen (Sing the Lord, ye voices all!)
Cello Concerto No. 1 in C, Hob. VIIb:1 (1987 - Remaster): I. Moderato - Cadenza
Cello Concerto No. 1 in C, Hob. VIIb:1 (1987 - Remaster): II. Adagio - Cadenza
Cello Concerto No. 1 in C, Hob. VIIb:1 (1987 - Remaster): III. Allegro molto
Haydn: Cello Concerto in D,H.VIIb No.2 - 1. Allegro moderato
Haydn: Cello Concerto in D,H.VIIb No.2 - 2. Adagio
Haydn: Cello Concerto in D,H.VIIb No.2 - 3. Rondo (Allegro)
Haydn: Trumpet Concerto in E flat, H.VIIe No.1 - 1. Allegro
Haydn: Trumpet Concerto in E Flat, H.VIIe/1 - 2. Andante
Haydn: Trumpet Concerto in E Flat, H.VIIe/1 - 3. Allegro

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