Thursday, January 2, 2014

Franz Joseph Haydn - Composer Study

Franz Joseph Haydn (March 31, 1732 – May 31, 1809), also known as Joseph Haydn, was an Austrian composer who was one of the most prolific and prominent of the Classical period.


He often is called the "Father of the String Quartet" and "Father of the Symphony" because of his important contributions to these forms. He also was instrumental in the development of the piano trio and evolution of sonata form.

A lifelong resident of Austria, Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family on their remote estate. Isolated from other composers and trends in music until the later part of his long life, he was, as he put it, "forced to become original".

At the time of his death, he was one of the most celebrated composers in Europe.

Joseph Haydn was the brother of Michael Haydn, also a highly-regarded composer, and Johann Evangelist Haydn, a tenor. He was also a close friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.

Sophia and Olivia listened to six pieces by Joseph Haydn. Their thoughts about what they heard are noted as well.

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String Quartet Op 76 no 3 "Emperor" - first movement "Allegro" (10:46)

The notes about this piece in the CD holder said that "Allegro" has "the feel of a ceremonial introduction....The writing for the four instruments is unusually full and rich; the second half of the development is in the style of a rough, distinctly Beethovenish, country dance."

Sophia thought: You can really hear the strings. I like how fast this song is. I like the louder parts more than the softer parts.

Olivia thought: It's good. You can hear the violins. I like how fast it is too. There were changes from loud to soft.

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London Symphony no 104 "Finale: Spiritoso" (6:36)

Symphony No. 104 in D major is Joseph Haydn's final symphony. It is the last of the twelve so-called London Symphonies, and is known (somewhat arbitrarily, given the existence of eleven others) as the London Symphony.

The exuberant finale, in fast tempo and in sonata form, opens in the mode of folk music using a drone bass and a theme often claimed to have originated as a Croatian folk song.

Sophia thought: I don't like this one as much. I liked the first one because it was more lively. (Around 5:00:) this reminds me of Russian music. 

Olivia thought:I like the part (around 2:00) because it is loud and it is going fast. (Around 6:15) Towards the end it gets loud...maybe a bit too loud. The instruments that stood out the most were the strings.

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The Creation: "The Heavens are Telling the Glory" (4:02)

The Creation is considered by many to be Haydn's masterpiece. And "The Heavens are Telling the Glory" seems to be akin to what the Hallelujah chorus is to the Messiah.

Sophia thought: I don't like this kind of music because it's different from classical music. It's different than what I imagined him as writing. I probably wouldn't listen to this again.

Olivia thought: I can't understand what they are saying. It's strange because classical music normally doesn't having singing with it. The music was good...it was the singing that was hard to listen to. The singers kind of drown out the music. 

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II Terremoto, "Presto" (1:47)

Terremoto means earthquake in Spanish. This piece is played on a fortepiano by Ronald Brautigam. It has black keys (instead of white ones) and white keys (instead of black ones for sharps/flats). It is an instrument that Sophia and Olivia have not seen or heard before.

A fortepiano is an early version of the piano; and was invented by the Italian instrument maker Bartolomeo Cristofori around 1700 and used through the early part of the 19th century. It was the instrument for which Haydn, Mozart, and the early Beethoven wrote their piano music.

Sophia thought: I liked this one because it sounds like a piano, but it's a little higher pitched. You can tell that the person pounded on the keys. I liked the end of the song.

Olivia thought:It sounds like a storm...a very loud storm. I couldn't hear the earthquake. I liked the beginning part.

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String Quartet in D Minor, Op 42 "Adagio e Cantabile" (3:46)

This is part of a very short quartet that is in three movements that was written for Spanish patron. It's a richly-scored meditation and very tranquil piece.

Sophia thought: I didn't really like this one because it was too quiet and not very memorable. It was more like background music. 

Olivia thought: It sounds like of sad. It's slow and not very loud. It's peaceful. I've listened to pieces like this on the radio if there's nothing else on. 

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Horn Concerto No. 1 in D major, 2nd movement (Adagio) (6:55)

This piece was completed in 1762 when Haydn was new to the Esterhazy court. The work is in three movements: Allegro, Adagio, and Allegro.

Because of the low range writing in the Adagio, some musicologists believe the concerto was written for Thaddaus Steinmuller. Other musicologists believe it was a present for the baptism ceremony of one of the children of Joseph Leutgeb (for whom Mozart wrote his horn concertos).

Sophia thought: It's quieter than I thought it would be. It's something that you'd hear at a colonial dance. I like that it is soft and flowey. Maybe sounds a little like "Taps" (around 6:00).

Olivia thought: It doesn't even sound like a horn. It's nice. It sounds more like a piece you'd hear at the orchestra. This piece is kind of in the middle for me. I like the louder parts better. It kind of reminds me of a version of "Prince Caspian."

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1 comment:

Barb McCoy said...

I really like haydn's Cello Concerto in C Major. Love the mood-relaxing but uplifting. Lived reading your comments on each piece.