Day 85: Christmas Surprise, Part II

HaydnCD85Yesterday, I discovered that the music on Haydn CDs 84 and 85 (which constitutes Op. 33 Nos 1-6) is called the “Russian” quartets and that these compositions likely made their debut on Christmas Day, 1781.

Serendipitously, I am listening to these quartets nearly 282 years later to the day.

I hadn’t planned it that way.

When I started listening to the complete works of Haydn on October 1, 2013, I had no clue that 85 days later I’d be listening to quartets Haydn premiered over two and a half centuries ago.

But, here it is, 9:09pm (Eastern Time) on Christmas Eve, 2013. It is already Christmas Day in Europe. I’m sipping a 2011 German Riesling and listening to Haydn’s quartets.

Haydn String Quartet Op. 33 No. 3 in C (nickname: “The Bird”)

According to the Wiki article on Haydn’s Op. 33,

The first movement opens with a melody in the first violin featuring repeated notes. Grace notes are inserted between the repeated notes which gives the melody a “birdlike quality” and hence gives the quartet its nickname.

Movement I (“Allegro moderato”) is a slow way to start tonight’s CD, especially after the build-up I gave it in my mind. A little slower than I usually like. Movement II (“Scherzo: Allegretto”) and Movement III (“Adagio, ma non troppo”) weren’t much peppier. But Movement IV (“Rondo: Presto”) saved Op. 33 No. 3. My wife, listening from the kitchen, said, Continue reading

Day 84: Christmas Surprise, Part I

HaydnCD084I liked today’s CD from the opening movement, a very enjoyable Vivace assai from String Quartet Op. 33 No. 5 in G (nickname: “How Do You Do”).

When I imagine Classical music in my head, it sounds just like that.


Movement 2 (“Largo e cantabile”) reminds me of the music played during a scary movie when the knife is coming down. “Reee! Reee! Reee! Reee!” Yeah. You know what I’m talking about.

Cool ending to the movement, too. Just a plucked string around the 4:05 mark.

Movement 3 (“Scherzo: Allegro”) is another delightfully lively composition.

Movement 4 (“Finale: Allegretto”) isn’t a typical slam-bang ending. It kind of retards the pace and fun of the previous three movements.

By the way, there’s a Wiki article about the Op. 33 quartets. Interesting stuff, too. Take a look:

The Op. 33 String Quartets were written by Joseph Haydn in the summer and Autumn of 1781 for the Viennese publisher Artaria. This set of quartets has several nicknames, the most common of which is the “Russian” quartets, because Haydn dedicated the quartets to the Grand Duke Paul of Russia and many (if not all) of the quartets were premiered on Christmas Day, 1781, at the Viennese apartment of the Duke’s wife, the Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna.

christmastreeNow, is that an interesting coincidence, or what?

Here I am, two days before Christmas, 2013, listening to these quartets…and they debuted on Christmas, 1781 – which means that precisely 232 years ago today, Haydn was likely scurrying around putting the finishing touches on his compositions and readying them (and himself) for their performance in two days.

Tomorrow, when I listen to CD 85 (the final three Russian Quartets), it’ll be even more coincidental — listening to quartets on Christmas Eve, 2013, that debuted on Christmas Day, 1781.

I didn’t plan it that way, I swear. I had no idea. This is my Christmas surprise, courtesy of Continue reading