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Name of Work

Haydn, Joseph (1732-1809)
Concerto in C Major for two flutes, two horns, and strings

Movements:
Allegro con spirito
Adnante
Finale, Allegro con brio

Performances:


Oct 25, 1992



Joseph Genualdi, Viola
Susan Synnestvedt, Violin
James Dunham, Viola
Marc Johnson, Cello
Bradley Opland, Double bass
Michel Debost, Flute
Daniel Gingrich, Horn
Gail Williams, Horn


Oct 26, 1992



Joseph Genualdi, Viola
Susan Synnestvedt, Violin
James Dunham, Viola
Marc Johnson, Cello
Bradley Opland, Double bass
Michel Debost, Flute
Daniel Gingrich, Horn
Gail Williams, Horn

HAYDN - Concerto for two Flutes, two Horns, and Strings in C major

The automatic connection our minds make between the concepts of "music" and "Vienna" is several centuries old, for the city has long been an artistic capital. During the 18th century, the golden noonday of the Austrian Empire, music, drama, and the dance were enthusiastically encouraged and supported by Vienna's wealthy nobility, and by the upwardly-mobile middle classes, all of whom made entertainment a major preoccupation of life. The imperial court maintained an opera company, orchestras, chamber musicians, composers, and instructors; lesser nobles had their own personal wind bands or string quartets, while in households of more modest means, the new keyboard instrument called the fortepiano made every parlor a potential concert hall. Lively melodies also flowed forth from taverns, dance halls, and beer gardens, and there were increasing numbers of moderately-priced public theatres, like the one managed by Mozart's friend Emanuel Schickaneder, where all could come and enjoy.

The grand pinnacle of aristocratic social life was the ball season, with grand gatherings taking place almost nightly from Christmas until Lent, all requiring quantities of new dance music. Almost every composer who was drawn to Vienna in the hope of fame and fortune produced, at some time or another, pieces that would form the background for these balls: German dances, Ländler from rural Austria, and later, waltzes. Included among these occasional composers for the court are the three great names generally identified as the "Viennese Classicists," though not one of them was actually born in the city — Josef Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven.

Tonight's celebration of Vienna will focus in part on music by two of the many composers who migrated there, as to a natural mecca for their talents and ambitions: Haydn and Johannes Brahms. Haydn, born in a remote Austrian village, was fortunate enough to receive some early training as a chorister at Vienna's Cathedral of St. Stephen, but he forged his career away from the capital, as music director for a nobleman who preferred country life. Through publication and word-of-mouth, his works became well known in Vienna, but he took up residence there only quite late in his life, when his reputation had spread all over the European continent and across the English Channel. Several generations later, the young Brahms made Vienna his home. He came from the northern German city of Hamburg, equipped with a considerable reputation as both a performer and a composer, but still untried in what continued to be, in the 1860s, one of the world's major centers of music. Brahms originally made his move so as to provoke the Hamburg authorities into appointing him to a permanent conducting post, but in the end, like so many musicians before and after him, he came to Vienna not merely to visit, but to stay.

First on our Viennese program, rather incongruously, is a work that Haydn composed for Ferdinand IV, King of Naples. The connection to Vienna is remote but extant: Norbert Hadrava, the imperial Austrian ambassador in Naples, was a skilled musician who encouraged Ferdinand's own talents, and eventually prodded the king into commissioning new music from Haydn, Ignaz Pleyel, and other leading composers.

The unusual and rather specialized instrument for which these composers were to write was the lira organizzata. The lira, a form of hurdy-gurdy, was a favorite instrument in Naples; as the Haydn scholar H.C. Robbins Landon has pointed out, "the Bourbon king [Ferdinand], though often a rough and uncouth monarch, had a deep affection for his subjects...and it is characteristic that his favorite musical instrument should have been that so beloved by his people." The strings of the regular lira were activated both by a crank and by keys; the added term "organizzata" means that miniature pipes were inserted, also worked by keys, and providing further resonance, so that the lira was "organ-ized." It still had a limited range, however, and remained one of those odd instruments that never really caught on - like the obsolete stringed instrument called the baryton, of which Haydn's principal employer, Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, was so inordinately fond that the composer was obliged to write dozens of pieces for it. In the case of the lira organizzata, he happily fulfilled Ferdinand's commission for several concertos and "notturni," but he later re-used the same music in scorings for more conventional instruments. The original plan - two lire, two horns, two violins, two violas, and cello - was easily adapted by transferring the lire parts to a flute and oboe, to recorders, or to two flutes, the way in which we'll hear the C Major concerto tonight. The lira concertos were not conceived in the Mozartean sense, with a single soloist dramatically contrasted against an orchestra. What Haydn envisioned was music for a small group, one player to a part, a concerto style reminiscent of the Baroque era, when two or three solo players were joined by a chamber orchestra only slightly larger. The lira concertos are also reminiscent of divertimentos, works for small groups of wind and string players wherein one or more instruments sometimes assumes a solo role, but the emphasis is placed more on the unity of the whole ensemble. Haydn included cadenzas in the first movements of his lira concertos, to show off the abilities of King Ferdinand and Norbert Hadrava, but elsewhere, the texture is more characteristic of true chamber music. The structure follows the standard pattern of the 18th-century concerto: a slow and lyrical central movement surrounded by two lively Allegros.

Program Notes by Andrea Lamoreaux

Performed October 25 and 26, 1992



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