Day 16: Ascot Gavotte?

HaydnCD16Today’s Haydn CD seems brighter, livelier, more fun.

Or, maybe, it’s my change of venue. I decided to listen and post in Barnes & Noble on this cloudy-and-chilly October morning.

Whatever it is, Symphony No. 55 in E Flat “Der Schulmeister” sounds rather Mozart like.

Not to belittle Haydn’s talents. But this particular symphony has a bouncier, more playful feel to it, more like something Mozart might have written. (By the way, in 1774 Mozart was 18. By that point in his life, Amadeus had probably written a gazillion symphonies. So, my guess is Haydn and Mozart — who knew each other — might have been playing a bit of friendly competition, much like Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson did in the mid 1960s.)

BNViewComposed in 1774 (Haydn was 42), Symphony No. 55 is another of Haydn’s symphonies with a nickname, this time “The Schoolmaster.” Again, the origin of that nickname appears unknown. According to its entry on Wiki:

H. C. Robbins Landon notes that while Haydn’s autograph manuscript of the symphony contains no reference to this title, the work has been known by this name since the early nineteenth century. Landon suggests that the dotted rhythm of the second movement calls to mind the wagging finger of a schoolmaster, and points out that in the catalog of his works that Haydn helped prepare in the final years of his life, there is a fragment of a lost Divertimento in D containing a similar dotted rhythm entitled “Der verliebte Schulmeister” (the schoolmaster in love). Landon goes on to propose a program for the symphony’s second movement in which the sections marked semplice represent the “strict, pedantic” teacher and the dolce sections depict the same teacher overwhelmed by love.

I thought the “dotted rhythm” of Movement II (“Adagio, ma semplicemente”) sounded like the rhythm of the lyrics in the Lerner and Loewe song Continue reading