Day 60: Seven Last Words of Christ

HaydnCD60I was tempted to come up with a goofy title for today’s blog entry. After all, today marks two continuous months for me, listening to Haydn every day.

But the title of today’s Haydn composition is Die Sieben Letzten Worte, or The Seven Last Words of Christ.

How could I write a goofy headline with a subject matter like that?

Obviously, I couldn’t.

According to its entry on Wikipedia, today’s composition,

is an orchestral work by Joseph Haydn, commissioned in 1785 or 1786 for the Good Friday service at Cádiz Cathedral in Spain. The composer adapted it in 1787 for string quartet and in 1796 as an oratorio (with both solo and choral vocal forces), and he approved a version for solo piano.

The seven main meditative sections — labelled “sonatas” and all slow — are framed by an Introduction and a speedy “Earthquake” conclusion, for a total of nine movements.

Given those dates, Haydn was 54 or 55 when he composed this piece.

I have nothing against Jesus, last words or first. However, Haydn’s Die Sieben Letzten Worte is wearisome. It’s too ponderous (strike that: let’s call it lugubrious) for my tastes. No breakout arias. No orchestration that just knocks me back.

I often wonder if sacred/religious music like this is meant to be heard many decades (or even centuries) after it was composed. To me, it seems akin to somebody setting my prayers to music and releasing it as an album. In other words, making public very private, personal moments. The meaning I intend for that private moment may not be understood by an audience.

But what do I know? I’m not a Continue reading