Day 5: On Set

Haydn5You know the kind of music Hollywood uses as the soundtrack in a period piece, a movie set in a bygone era?

It’s stuff like what’s on CD 5, starting with Symphony No. 17 in F.

The only thing missing is Cate Blanchett.

Or Geoffrey Rush.

And a whole lot of powdered wigs and brightly colored clothes.

Think Jane Austin. Or George Washington. Or Mutiny on the Bounty, in which case an appearance by Clark Gable would be in order. (Forget Charles Laughton, though. I don’t want Captain Bligh to invade my reverie this morning.)

Clark_Gable_in_Mutiny_on_the_Bounty_trailerHere’s the point. When people think of the era of powdered wigs and formal, if not visually stunning, minuet or contredanse allemande dancing, they likely think of spirit that imbues Haydn’s Symphony No. 17 in F, although – to be sure – they’d more likely be hearing a quartet, not a full symphony, at these social gatherings. Still, there’s something about Symphony No. 17 in F that smacks of a gathering of that sort. It has a Late Baroque feel to it. All that’s missing is a harpsichord, for which I am immeasurably grateful. That instrument grates on my nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard.

The three-movement Symphony No. 17 in F “may have been written between Continue reading

Day 4: Stirred, Not Shaken

Haydn4I really needed the allegro molto that opened Symphony No. 13 in D. I had been feeling a bit down, emotionally. Fall sometimes does that to me, anyway. But so do the weenies on the Internet who constantly bicker. They’re an energy suck.

As I sat in my semi-lit office this morning at 8am, I wondered what the day would bring. Thankfully, I knew it would bring CD 4 of Haydn’s symphonies, which I was certain would lift my spirits.

I was right. It was a stirring way to begin the day.

According to its entry on Wikipedia, Symphony No. 13 in D,

was written in 1763 for the orchestra of Haydn’s patron, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, in Eisenstadt.

The work can be precisely dated thanks to a dated score in Haydn’s own hand in the National Library of Budapest. Two other Haydn symphonies are known to have been written in the same year: the Symphony No. 12 and the Symphony No. 40.

That means Haydn was 31 when he composed this delightful symphony. Gee whiz, when I was 31 I was probably being a dick Continue reading