Monday, April 13, 2009

Joseph Haydn

I've a 33-CD set of Haydn's 104 symphonies plus two string quartets for which woodwind parts were discovered, and a sinfonia concertante. I love playing this music during the day when I'm home working. Sometimes I start with the first disc and play the whole set over a period of weeks. The April 2009 issue of Gramophone, page 110, contains this comment from critic Geraint Lewis:

"When he died in 1809, no previous composer in the entire history of music had enjoyed such universal and unanimous acclaim. So something obviously went wrong to turn him into Tovey's 'Haydn the Inaccessible' in 1932 (the bicentenary of his birth) and to become Holloway's 'well kept secret' today. With supreme irony, it was the immediate and subsequent evolution of Western music that unwittingly eclipsed and then proceeded to distort a general understanding of most of the output of its essential progenitor, while none the less retaining his essential DNA deep within his being. Whoa there, you may well be tempted to interject! But just imagine that Haydn had perished in the devastating fire which destroyed his tiny house in Eisenstadt's Klostergasse on August 2, 1767. Where then would have been the grit which gave birth to the pearl in Mozart's oyster-shell? And what would have become of young Beethoven without those pivotal 18 months in 1792-93 spent sitting at Haydn's elbow and looking over his shoulder?"

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