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The article discusses the German translation of Giuseppe Carpani’s Haydn biography of 1812. While notes on Haydn by the two German biographers Dies and Griesinger are regularly quoted and considered authentic despite the fact that their authors were good observers but not musicians, musicology pays little attention to the third contemporary Haydn biography by the musician Carpani (1752[?]–1825). He was looked upon with distrust and it reflected on him in intellectual circles that his book on Haydn was plagiarized under a pseudonym right after its publication by an author who later acquired world fame as Stendhal.

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A number of Haydn’s minuet movements from the 1760s and 1770s contain sparsely scored trio sections in which a single musical idea is repeated continuously, even obsessively. In these trios — of which the most distinctive are in Symphonies Nos. 21, 28, 29, 30, 43, 46, and 58 — Haydn developed and cultivated an aesthetic of the minimal. While they conjure a range of moods, these trios share several features that mark them as a distinct type. These include circular harmonic motion, schematic melodies, and the use of certain characteristic intervals. Although modern critics consistently ascribe ‘Balkan’, ‘Gypsy’, ‘Slavonic’, or ‘Eastern European’ qualities to these trios, the evidence for these claims is scanty. The exotic quality of the trios is best viewed in light of Haydn’s minimization of particular compositional parameters, such as dynamics, scoring, and motivic and textural variance. At the same time, it is precisely the minimal quality of these trios that allows Haydn to explore in dramatic fashion the mechanics of contrast in the da capo form. While Haydn’s minimal style appears most consistently in trios of the 1760s and 1770s, it also informs his later trio writing.

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One of the more surprising developments in recent American music theory has been the revival of interest in traditional, as opposed to Schenkerian, approaches to musical form. Spearheading this renewal are William Caplin’s 1998 treatise Classical Form , and James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy’s more recent Elements of Sonata Theory (2006). Both treatises, however, ignore the eighteenth-century operatic repertory entirely. And while valuable studies of eighteenth-century aria-forms exist (notably by James Webster and Mary Hunter), such studies generally predate the advent of the new American Formenlehre . There is, as a result, a gap between the most recent developments in the theory of Classical form and our current understanding of formal processes in late-eighteenth-century opera.This paper sketches one possible way across that gap. Even a casual survey of Haydn’s Eszterháza operas suggests that formal processes play out in ways related to, but nonetheless distinct from, their articulation in Haydn’s instrumental music (in response, no doubt, to the particular exigencies of writing texted music for the operatic stage). Thanks to its characteristic attention to the smallest possible form-functional units — the presentational, continuational and cadential phrases that subsist at the intra-thematic level — Caplin’s approach to Classical form proves particularly adaptable to this new context. The paper illustrates the analytic usefulness of Caplin’s approach for analyzing vocal music through a consideration of representative examples from Armida and Il mondo della luna .

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Several copies of works by Joseph Haydn and Anton Zimmermann, located mainly at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, have some striking features in common: almost identical calligraphic initials “NZ,” dates ranging from 1776 to 1778 on the cover pages, and great similarity in the handwriting of text and music. This handwriting was analysed by the author and compared to the surviving contemporary manuscript copies (paper, watermarks, script) of string quartets by Nicolaus Zmeskall (1759–1833), Beethoven’s friend in Vienna. Using previously unknown samples of Zmeskall’s handwriting from the period of his high school studies in Pressburg (Bratislava, Slovakia), it was possible to identify his music-copying style, and determine conclusively that his string quartet manuscripts are autographs. This study proves that the manuscript copies of the Haydn and Zimmermann works (including Haydn’s Violin Concerto in G Major and two symphonies by Zimmermann) were written out by Zmeskall, while he was living in Pressburg. This previously unknown aspect of Zmeskall’s biography is treated at length and it is suggested that this talented cellist and composer may have been in contact with Haydn much earlier than hitherto suspected.

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Among the first forty symphonies that Joseph Haydn wrote up to 1765, Symphony Hob. I:21 has a slow first movement that does not resemble any other, since it is not based on the usual mid-18th-century ternary or binary sonata form; its structure would be better described as a fantasy with allusions of sonata form, and this special structural case should be placed somewhere in the middle of two other notable “capriccios” from the same period: the first movement of Keyboard Trio Hob. XV:35 (a pure sonata form) and the Keyboard Capriccio Hob. XVII:1 (a pure fantasy on a single theme). Yet, the unique form of Hob. I:21 / I does not seem to be absolutely novel in the “pre-classical” repertoire, since some slow movements from Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s “Württemberg” Sonatas (Wq. 49 nos. 1, 3 and 6) display several common characteristics with it. Thus, the present paper, focusing on similarities between C. P. E. Bach’s and J. Haydn’s compositions during the 1760s, aims at the broadening of the subject-matter of one’s influence on the other, not only from a chronological point of view but also in terms of an interrelation between different music genres.

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Haydn’s Betrachtung des Todes , a late little masterpiece by the composer, represents the simultaneity of the old and the new. The text is the second verse of Gellert’s fourteen-verse poem ‘Wie sicher lebt der Mensch, der Staub!’, No. 50 in the volume Geistliche Oden und Lieder , 1757. In the short catalogue at the end of the volume Gellert names the hymn ‘Herr Jesu Christ, meines Lebens Licht’, as the appropriate melody for the poem. Haydn’s vocal trio with basso continuo is perhaps the most extraordinary setting in the series of the Mehrstimmige Gesänge (Hob. XXVb:3). Its harmonies and key changes uncannily foreshadow the language of Schubert and Mendelssohn. The musical representation of the poetic lines, on the other hand, is full of rhetorical devices. Most startling is the presence of figured bass, as an anachronistic code for the keyboard accompaniment. Co-existence of Baroque and Romantic, or ‘First Viennese Modernism’ (James Webster): the roots of the composer’s professional education preserved in a highly innovative setting of an old Protestant poem, in the very last years of the eighteenth century.

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The distinction between aesthetic and commercial value emerged in the later eighteenth century under the conditions of an emerging market for literature and music. Such a distinction was sharply pronounced in North German debate on music, especially concerning the “elitist” fantasia and the “populist” rondo. While Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach would pay lip service to the sharp reprobation of Forkel or Reichardt concerning commercialisation of music, he would nonetheless act as a businessman when it came to selling his music. Joseph Haydn and his Austrian contemporaries, on the other hand, seem to have had much less reservations concerning the idea of music as commodity; indeed, one could argue that Haydn consciously used his trade-marks like “originality” or “wit and humour” as a kind of branding. Commercial success, after all, allowed a composer to get a response from an otherwise anonymous and silent public. The issues at stake are exemplified by a comparison of two important piano pieces which combine elements of fantasia and rondo form: C. P. E. Bach’s Fantasia in C major, H. 291/Wq. 61,6, and Haydn’s Fantasia in C major, Hob. XVII:4.

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‘Altered recapitulations,’ commonly regarded as a distinguishing feature of Joseph Haydn’s sonata form movements, are usually explained in terms of the ‘monothematic’ design of the exposition. According to the logic used in such analytical studies, recomposing the recapitulation would have been aimed at restoring the proportional balance between exposition and recapitulation, a need that resulted from the omission of the seemingly redundant, retransposed secondary theme along with the preceding transition. Though such an explanation has long been considered indisputable, this article casts doubt on the validity of the redundancy principle by showing that Haydn often did retain the monothematic section in the recapitulation. Rather, the recomposition of the recapitulation results from two important structural aspects thus far largely neglected in the literature: (1) the repetitive formal structure of the main theme, which is often considerably reworked in the recapitulation; and (2) the insertion of a separate newly composed dominant zone in the recapitulation that serves to compensate for the lack of a structural dominant at the end of the development section. Finally, it is argued here that Haydn, who was deeply rooted in the late Baroque tradition, by no means regarded multiple ‘double returns’ as either problematic or redundant, for he may have been thinking more in terms of an overriding ritornello structure.

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Haydn’s symphony no. 45, especially the final Farewell -Andante, has been looked at puzzlingly twofold: More recent understandings emphasize the wit and humour of the finale, while reports of the late 18th and early 19th century tend to notice a gloomier, even melancholic tint. This perception here is taken as a starting point for an interpretation of that symphony in terms of the 18th-century notion of melancholy as noble suffering of princes, intellectuals, and artists. Since musical works of melancholy are normally for piano or a soloist to allow for an identification of the player and the melancholic, a symphony leads us to ask anew for the melancholy persona of that orchestral piece. Answers are tried that highlight the respective roles of the orchestra, Haydn, and his most eminent listener, Prince Esterházy, within that game of deciphering melancholy. In addition, the different anecdotes concerning the Farewell -finale are analysed as tokens of an aesthetic irritation that try to tame the bewildering musical language of that symphony by linking it with extra-musical narratives. Finally, the often mentioned pantomimic aspect of the finale is taken into account and is interpreted as an important aspect of Haydn’s effort to produce meaning in the instrumental genres.

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David Wyn Jones, The Life of Haydn

(Cambridge University Press, 2009 ISBN: 9780521895743)

Studia Musicologica
Author: Katalin Komlós
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