A Haydn Celebration

Friday, October 23, Christ Church, Cambridge
Saturday, October 24, First Parish, Sudbury


Symphony in Bb Major, HI:85                        Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
    (a period arrangement for flute, violin, cello, and fortepiano)   

“London” Trio No. 3 in G Major, HIV:3   
Arianna a Naxos, HXXVIb:2
At intermission: Gioco Filarmonico or Musical Dice Game!

Trio in F Major for fortepiano, flute, and cello, HXV:17
    Finale (Tempo di Menuetto)

The rising of the Lark
Cro Challin
When she came ben she bobbit
The live long Night
The dying Bard to his Harp
The white Cockade


Pamela Dellal, mezzo-soprano
Suzanne Stumpf, flute
Sarah Darling, violin
 Daniel Ryan, cello
Michael Bahmann, fortepiano

Program notes

This program presents music composed immediately preceding and during Joseph Haydn’s London sojourns (1791 and 1794) when this Classical master was at the height of his powers, and his fame had spread across Europe. From 1761 to 1779, Haydn’s contract as Kapellmeister to the Esterházy court gave the Prince exclusive rights over his compositions—Haydn could neither sell them nor compose for anyone else. The Prince lifted this restriction in 1779, and Haydn was able to publish freely and accept commissions from all over Europe. By the 1780s, his music had become quite popular and Haydn could barely keep up with demand.

An important commission came from the Parisian Count d’Ogny in 1784-85 for the composition of six symphonies. Known as the “Paris” symphonies, these works are written for larger forces  and are more extroverted in style than the ones he composed at Esterházy. They became widely circulated and a few of them had characteristic titles, including Symphony no. 85, which become known as La reine (the queen) because Marie Antoinette declared it her favorite. The practice of creating arrangements of symphonic works began in the late 18th century and became increasingly popular in the early 19th century as a means to bring these large-scale works into the home. The chamber arrangement of Symphony 85 presented on this program was made by Ludwig Wenzel Lachnith, a Bohemian composer and horn player who was active in Paris in the 1780s.

London’s publishers were among the many who eagerly sought works from Haydn, and in 1789, publisher John Bland commissioned a number of works including three piano trios with flute. Haydn’s Trio in F Major is the third trio of this commission. The form of this work is a departure from Haydn’s more common three movement format in favor of the two-movement Allegro-Minuet popular in London at the time. The first movement features a moderately paced Allegro that employs intricate figuration, bold harmonic language, and engaging dialogue between the keyboard and flute. The Finale Tempo di Menuetto is of a similar scale belying the dance genre’s simple origins.

The tragic cantata Arianna a Naxos was possibly composed for the Venetian singer Bianca Sacchetti around 1789. The work was performed several times in London by the famous castrato Gasparo Pacchierotti accompanied by Haydn. Its text concerns Ariadne’s abandonment on the island of Naxos by Theseus and her emotional turmoil that ranges from hope to despair. The cantata alternates freely between recitative and aria, with the keyboard part portraying much of the musical imagery in the recitatives.
The “London” trios were composed during Haydn’s second visit to England in 1794. Probably composed for a circumstantial commission, the works are among the finest of their genre, employing lively dialogue among the instruments with clever development of the motifs that comprise their melodies.

Given the impressive number of major masterpieces Haydn composed late in life—the Creation, the Seasons, and the late Masses, it is astonishing that he also composed almost 400 folksong settings between 1795-1804. These came about through the commissions of several publishers, chief among them George Thomson, who had also obtained settings from Hummel, Beethoven, Pleyel, and others. Many of the folksong collections were not issued until after Haydn’s death, and most of the Haydn settings were not available in modern publication until relatively recently.

Many of Haydn’s settings of Scottish, Irish, and Welsh folksongs are miniature masterpieces, with wonderfully inventive and expressive “piano trios” in the ritornellos, and acute sensitivity to the meaning and atmosphere of the texts.
Among the dozens of works ascribed to Haydn but of doubtful attribution is the musical dice game entitled Gioco Filarmonico. Published in Naples around 1800, this work is subtitled “An easy method of composing an infinite number of minuets without any knowledge of counterpoint.” Audience members will be invited to participate in a demonstration of the game during the intermission of these concerts.

  © Daniel Ryan and Suzanne Stumpf