Day 92: Haydn’s First String Quartets

HaydnCD92What interests me most about today’s string quartets is that Haydn was just 30 to 32 years of age when he composed them.

They were the first string quartets he wrote.

Will I hear a freshman string quartet writer? Will I hear compositions that lack confidence, seem tentative?

Or will these be like everything else I’ve heard to date – masterful?

Time – precisely 69 minutes and 22 seconds – will tell.

As I note in the quotations below, these string quartets were composed with five movements each.

Haydn String Quartet Op. 1 No. 1 in B Flat (for some reason, nicknamed “La Chasse”)

Overall impressions: Movement I began slowly and stately. No real surprises. Movement II (“Minuet – Minuet secondo”) featured an unexpected pizzicato at about the 1:42 mark, right in the middle of the movement until about 2/3 of the way into it (around the 3:00 minute). Then it totally becomes the string quartet version of Haydn Symphony No. 73 in D “La Chasse” that I wrote about on October 22nd, right down to the aforementioned pizzicato portions.

This is interesting. I just realized that Haydn’s Symphony No. 73 in D was written in 1782. Haydn was 50. Yet, his String Quartet Op. 1 No. 1 was composed in 1762 when he was 30. So the string quartet preceded the symphony by two decades. I thought it was Continue reading

Day 22: Wabi-Sabi

HaydnCD22I dropped the Haydn box on the floor this morning.

It fell from the narrow ledge on which I’d perched it as I rifled through to select the next 5-6 CDs to rip into iTunes.

The CDs and CD sleeves are fine. But the box itself now has two tears in it — one structural (to the lower left corner) that renders it far less stable as a container, and another cosmetic (on the top left) that affects its appearance.

At first, I was really depressed. After all, this was not an inexpensive purchase. If I recall correctly, it was around $150 on Amazon.

Now, I bemoaned, its value has been reduced to just the music.

When the ridiculousness of that thought set in, I laughed.

“Just the music.”

Like Haydn’s music is secondary to the box in which it came.


What about Wabi-sabi? I asked myself — albeit an hour or two later, as I sat down to listen to today’s CD.

According to its entry on Wikipedia, Wabi-sabi,

represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically impermanence, the other two being suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature.

After all, wasn’t this morning’s butter-fingered escapade a reminder of impermanence? And the beauty therein, I might add. I mean, seriously, a Continue reading