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8.550382 - HAYDN: Symphonies, Vol. 4 (Nos. 45, 48, 102)
Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
Joseph Haydn was as prolific as any eighteenth century composer, his fecundity a matter, in good part, of the nature of his employment and the length of his life. Born in 1732 in the village of Rohrau, the son of a wheelwright, he was recruited to the choir of SI. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna at the age of eight, later earning a living as best he could as a musician in the capital and making useful acquaintances through his association with Metastasio, the Court Poet, and the composer Nicola Porpora.
In 1759, after some eight years of teaching and free-lance performance, whether as violinist or keyboard-player, Haydn found greater security in a position in the household of Count Morzin as director of music, wintering in Vienna and spending the summer on the Count's estate in Bohemia, where an orchestra was available. In 1760 Haydn married the eldest daughter of a wig- maker, a match that was to bring him no great solace, and by the following year he had entered the service of Prince Paul Anton Esterházy as deputy to the old Kapellmeister Gregor Werner, who had much fault to find with his young colleague. In 1762 Prince Paul Anton died and was succeeded by his brother Prince Nikolaus, who concerned himself with the building of the great palace of Esterháza. In 1766 Werner died, and Haydn assumed the full duties of Kapellmeister, spending the larger part of the year at Esterháza and part of the winter at Eisenstadt, where his first years of service to the Esterházy family had passed.
Haydn's responsibilities at Esterháza were manifold. As Kapellmeister he was in full charge of the musicians employed by the prince, writing music of all kinds, and directing performances both instrumental and operatic. This busy if isolated career came to an end with the death of Prince Nikolaus in 1790. From then onwards Haydn had greater freedom, while continuing to enjoy the title and emoluments of his position as Kapellmeister to the Prince's successors.
Haydn's release from his immediate responsibilities allowed him, in 1791, to accept an invitation to visit London, where he provided music for the concerts organised by Johann Peter Salomon. His considerable success led to a second visit in 1794. The following year, at the request of the new Prince Esterházy, who had succeeded his elder brother in 1794, he resumed some of his earlier duties as Kapellmeister, now in Eisenstadt and in Vienna, where he took up his own residence until his death in 1809.
Haydn's Farewell Symphony was written in 1772, occasioned by the prolonged stay of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy at his Hungarian palace. Some of the musicians had been compelled to leave their wives behind in Eisenstadt when the Prince took up his summer residence. The Symphony, in the final Adagio of which the musicians leave one by one, was intended as a delicate hint that the time had come to return to Eisenstadt, although some contemporary sources suggest that the subject of complaint was the possible reduction of the musical establishment.
The Symphony, in the key of F sharp minor, is scored for the usual Esterháza forces of pairs of oboes and horns, bassoon and strings. The first movement opens with the principal theme, descending arpeggios played by the first violins against sustained wind chords and the urgent syncopation of the second violins. Sonata form is treated with considerable freedom, the second subject making its D major appearance in the development and the following recapitulation inviting an unusual further development of the principal theme. The A major second movement allows muted violins to announce the main theme, the wind having very little to add during the course of the movement. An F sharp major Minuet follows, with a Trio that allows the French horns momentary prominence. This leads to a finale that modulates to introduce the unexpected slow conclusion, in which player after player leaves the platform, until only two muted violins are left.
It was once thought that Haydn wrote and performed his Symphony No.48 for the Empress Maria Theresia on the occasion of her visit to the palace of Esterháza in 1773. Haydn and his musicians performed for her in Chinese costume, however little sign there may have been of musical chinoiserie. In fact the Symphony in C major was written in 1769, and may have been heard by the Empress during a visit to Pressburg (Bratislava) or on another occasion at Kittsee. For whatever reason it continues to bear her name.
The symphony opens with some brilliance, as the wind calls our attention. The first violin bears the brunt of the second theme and there is a dramatic development, before the principal theme returns. The F major slow movement, a moving Adagio, is entrusted principally to the strings, followed by a bold Minuet and a C minor Trio. The finale continues the general brilliance of a symphony that won great popularity and certainly deserves its imperial title.
Haydn's first visit to England had taken place in 1791. His reputation in London was already very considerable and his personal appearance directing his new symphonies from the keyboard at the Hanover Square Rooms was an immense success. In 1794 he returned to England once more, again at the invitation of Salomon, who had commissioned a further set of six symphonies. The Symphony No.102 in B flat major served to open the second half of the first of the Opera Concerts, held in the King's Theatre in 1795. It was allegedly during the last movement of the symphony that a chandelier fell to the ground, causing little injury, since members of the audience in the parterre had pressed forward to see Haydn. The story, whether apocryphal or not, attached itself to another symphony, known from this incident as The Miracle.
The first movement opens with a slow introduction, followed by a lively theme played by the first violins, echoed by the flute, and a second subject of marked contrast, material that is used in the opening of the central development section, where the first subject is to return in the key of C, before the music moves forward to the B flat recapitulation. The F major Adagio includes muted trumpets and drums in its scoring and is in the form of variations that have all the feeling of improvisation. The familiar Minuet, its Trio opened by oboe and bassoon in octaves, is followed by a final rondo dominated by the theme announced in the first bars by the violins, a further testimony to the composer's humour and imagination.
In 1987 while retaining his connection with both Royal Ballet companies as guest conductor, Barry Wordsworth also worked with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, the Ulster Orchestra, the BBC Concert and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. For the Naxos label Wordsworth has recorded a number of Mozart and Haydn symphonies, works by Smetana and Dvorak and for the Marco Polo label works by Bax.
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