Day 90: Three Months…and Two Coincidences

HaydnCD90The title of yesterday’s blog entry was “Let the Sun Shine.”

Coincidentally, the nickname for today’s string quartets – all Op. 20 – is “the Sun quartets.”

Also, in yesterday’s blog entry, I discussed external influences on Haydn’s music. Was he affected by weather, for example? Births? Deaths? Illnesses? Different locales?

In the superb Wiki article about Haydn’s Op. 20 string quartets, I discovered,

The six string quartets opus 20 by Joseph Haydn are among the works that earned Haydn the sobriquet “the father of the string quartet.” The quartets are considered a milestone in the history of composition; in them, Haydn develops compositional techniques that were to define the medium for the next 200 years.

The quartets, written in 1772, were composed at a time of tensions in Haydn’s life, and also at a time when Haydn was influenced by new philosophical and political ideas that were sweeping Europe. Some analysts see the impact of these emotions and ideas in the quartets.

So, Haydn – now a 40-year-old man – was influenced by external circumstances when he composed these? Interesting. Some of Continue reading

Day 13: Changes

HaydnCD13I decided to shake things up this morning.

Instead of dining at the Panera farther away from where I live, I chose the Panera closer to me.

And instead of a booth, today I occupy that same square table I used to race to possess every day at 6:00am when I listened to the complete works of Mozart a couple of years ago.

Ooh. Big changes afoot.

Panera3I dunno. May not seem like much to you. But if I was a cat I’d freak out at such major alterations to my schedule.

I listened to the following three symphonies (twice!) on CD 13 this morning:

Symphony No. 46 in B, which Haydn composed in 1772 during his Sturm und Drang period. He was 40 years old.

This symphony was gripping from the start. I Continue reading

Day 12: Living In the Moment

Haydn012When I walked into the dimly lit Panera Bread restaurant this morning at 6:30, I cringed when I heard their choice of Muzak. It was a selection of that emo stuff, with guys sounding like someone’s squeezing their nuts…and girls singing with flat intonations, all mush-mouthed and sleepy like they just rolled out of bed.

I wonder if contemporaries of Franz Joseph Haydn, upon hearing his latest symphony — say, Symphony No. 43 in E Flat — thought the same way, like: “I say, Franz. This is frightfully trite. Do you honestly think anyone will want to hear this in a hundred years?”

If they did, they were wrong. Over two hundred and forty years later, here I am listening to that same symphony, nicknamed “Merkur” (Mercury).

By way of contrast, as much as I like Jason Mraz‘s “Living in the Present Moment,” I seriously doubt anyone will be listening to it in several hundred years.

Today’s Haydn symphony (another from the Sturm und Drang years of 1770-1774) grabbed me from the opening notes. I’m not sure why, or what it is about certain passages of music that earn my immediate respect. But this is one of them.

Here, maybe you can figure it out. This is exactly what I’m listening to this morning:

Someone uploaded to YouTube Symphony No. 43 in E Flat performed by the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra, Adam Fischer conductor. So (at least for as long as it remains on YouTube) you can hear for yourself what I’m hearing. Maybe you can figure out Continue reading