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Thread: Haydn’s true place in music history – once lost, now regained

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramako View Post
    a 35 page document which simply lists some of the things written about Beethoven's Eroica symphony. Haydn just doesn't have that attention. I'm not sure all the things written about Haydn's music adds up to the amount written about the Eroica, although the late works garner a lot more attention than earlier ones.
    "a 35 page document which simply lists some of the things written about Beethoven's Eroica"

    Amazing, isn't it? And, you're correct; just *some* of the writings. Everything written - a ton of it in German - along with French, Russian, etc., etc., would fill a tome.

    "Haydn just doesn't have that attention"

    Nobody does. Nobody. The next runners up might be Mozart and Mahler. Classical "rock" stars. After that, everyone else - trailing behind.

    Don't feel badly. As popular as Tchaik is, his 3rd sym and 2nd piano con - favs of mine - are hardly even noticed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Funny View Post
    completely steamrolled (and no, not by a Mannheim steamroller)

    Haydn's "games" or "tricks" that he was so known for are often gags explicitly based on listener the many moment-to-moment times he turns 180 degrees from the direction you expect the phrase to go - all these are acknowledgments that he knows what you (based on the cliches that he has to work with) are going to expect and that he has subverted them. It becomes a kind of conversation between him and you, the listener

    The 19th-century aesthetic inaugurated by Beethoven had no room for this, because Romanticism was focused inwardly, on the uniquely brilliant psyche of the individual composer, set on a pedestal for the mass public to admire from afar..
    "completely steamrolled (and no, not by a Mannheim steamroller) "

    The Mannheim Orchestra was one of the crucibles of the classical era symphonic style - perhaps the most important - since it provided Haydn himself the foundation on which he built his art.

    "moment-to-moment times he turns 180 degrees from the direction you expect "

    Excellent point. Thanks.

    "Romanticism was focused inwardly"

    Do you buy that? It's exactly what's been written about Romantic era poetry, prose, painting, and of course music. Especially music. At least for music, that's pretty much the judgement passed on the century since at some early point in the 20th cent [would you happen to know exactly when? My guess would be after WWI, since before that, composers were still more or less part of the 19th cent - even when, like Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, etc. - they were mightily breaking away from it].

    That little kernel of cliche's in pretty much every history and treatise on Romanticism. Ever question it, tho? Ever try to think "out side the box", as they say these days?

    I don't buy it. I think it's total crap.

    Here's an idea. Far from being focused "inwardly", the 19th cent - in all of the arts - turned it's gaze --- inclusively. It swept up all of the emotions, the thoughts, the experiences, the perceptions of human kind. All of that - *that* - made the music of the 19th cent what it was. It made it more human - because it was closer to the human experience --- of life.

    That's why romantic music continues to dominate music to this very day - from cinema [especially] to rock and roll. Think about it - rock and roll surely isn't in any classical mold - nor the mold of any other period - except the Romantic era.

    So - where does that leave us? The classical era has been called universal; it's music is "universal".

    Really? You know many folks listening to it? It's highly available. Anyone may hear tons of it at any time. Yet, most folks prefer music from Beethoven and forward in time.

    I've done observational studies of my own over many years. Most folks, if played a piece by Haydn or even Mozart and played a piece by Tchaik or even Saint-Saens will show a marked preference for the latter group.

    Think about it: when was the last time you heard a classical film score? Yet, romantic ones are the rule - every other movie has one [Hollywood's other option's rock and roll - a degenerated form of romanticism].

    Several years ago I worked for a real piece of crap company which played music in the office 24 hours/day. The music they chose wasn't some form of rock. Incredibly, it was all 100% classical era stuff. All of the employees hated it. HATED IT. Their perception of it was that it was cheery, squeaky, souless fluff. As my co-worker who sat across from me said, "Irritating, isn't it?".

    Sure, they'd have prefer cowntry or some other awful form of pop/rock - but that's not the point. The point's how they perceived that music. Not as background noise - but as an irritant.

    So much for the universality of the classical era.

    I'm not saying that I dislike the classical era, or that I'm hostile to it. I am, however, saying that both the classical and romantic eras have been seriously misunderstood and mis-characterized, and it's high time we got it right.

    Quote Originally Posted by HaydnBearstheClock View Post
    I've recently read another quote by Schumann though - something along the lines of - in Haydn's lush fruit gardens, there are some trees so heavily laden that they are very difficult to pass by.

    Foolish arrogant Schumann. However, his metaphor is quite humourous, hehe. I do like Schumann's music but I guess the romantics at the time were quite militant in 'rejecting' the structured, classical style - even though their own style came directly out of it.
    You completely misunderstand the early romantic period. Doing so will prevent you from understanding any other subsequent artistic period.

    Schumann, in addition to being a composer [and one of the greatest], was also a music critic and music writer. His writings that I've read show enormous insight into music - and have helped to shape my own views.

    "militant in 'rejecting' the structured, classical style"

    So, you're suggesting that time should've gone backwards. 50 years after Haydn's death, music and the arts should've stopped its direction, and gone backwards --- straight into the classical period?

    Let me ask you something. Did Haydn dive straight back into the Baroque?

    What the early romantics were doing was discovering a new mode expression in music. Every era does that - in almost every style - even in rock and roll [as primitive as it is]. Even the so-called neo-classicism of the early to mid 20th century is still a move forward. No one would ever mistake Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex or even Prokofiev's Sym 1 for a Haydn piece.

    Schumann was hardly "foolish arrogant" [sic]. He was, in actuality, a creative genius and an insightful arbiter on musical issues. Our role - yours and mine - is to gather enough IQ to try to understand and appreciate what he wrote - in prose as well as in music.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid James View Post
    Another thing I’d add is Brahms was another one of those early types of neo-classicists. Mendelssohn was similar in the first part of the 19th century. Brahms’quote about Bach’s chaconne for solo violin bears this out. He wrote to Clara Schumann “On a system for a small instrument, a man writes a whohle world of the deepest thoughts and the most tremendous emotions. If I could imagine that I could have accomplished such a thing, could have conceived it within myself, I know surely that the excitement and the shock would have driven me insane.”

    Notice how Brahms focuses on the emotional qualities of Bach, whilst people like Stravinsky looked at the Baroque and Classical eras as more or less objective, a move away from the emotional qualities inherent in Romanticism. I am kind of conflating that inquiry back to the Baroque and Classical eras because it kind of happened at once, althogh Haydn had to wait longer than Bach to be given his full due as one of the great composers.
    "Another thing I’d add is Brahms was another one of those early types of neo-classicists."

    Incorrect. You're not the first person to say that about Brahms. Many have said that before. Each one made the mistake of overlaying 20th century [in your case, 21st century in time - but 20th century in origin] perceptions and thinking on a 19th century artist and man.

    The two time periods are very, very different.

    Just because Brahms has an interest in, and was influenced by, the classical era, doesn't automatically make him a neo anything. Despite all of Brahm's alleged conservatism [and really, it's probably due to his stubborn style of orchestration more than anything else], he was a romantic artist. All you need to do to prove that is to play a Haydn piece and then play a Brahms piece. The massive romantic emotion in Brahms jumps out right away. While it may have all kinds of influences - which actually enrich his music, rather than making it merely unoriginal or derivative - the sheer romantic emotional wallop hits your ear like a pile of bricks.

    Neo-classicism, as we know it, is something else entirely. Its sound, feeling, expression, and objectives are extremely different from anything Brahms wrote. If you need clarity on that, spend some time listening to Milhaud, Stravinsky, or Elliot Carter. Actually, neo-classicism spawned an army of now long forgotten neo-classicists who squandered their lives pouring out endless piles of crap that's long forgotten [in many cases - perhaps most - never even published]. Many of them were academics - so that's how they made their living [no need to mourn them as suffering composers - they didn't starve]. If you really want to dive into it, the CRI and Louisville record label recorded a lot of mid 20th century neo-classicists. I have some of those records - do I'm very familiar with the style and its objectives.

    "Notice how Brahms focuses on the emotional qualities of Bach"

    Exactly my point. Correct.

    "I am kind of conflating that inquiry back to the Baroque and Classical eras because it kind of happened at once"

    The Baroque and the classical period did not happen at once, kind of or in any other way. As a clue, Rococo or Style Gallant came between the two.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid James View Post
    I think that Haydn was a composer who got a raw deal as regards to his position and importance in the history of music. Well, until fairly recently, that is.

    I understand your objectives and I appreciate your efforts toward expressing them. In a minor way I find 2 small but significant problems with your post. Firstly, you tend to overlay present-day thinking and perception on very different periods of time, very different cultures and countries, all living in economically and politically extremely different circumstances.

    Consider that most of the time periods and societies on which you're passing judgement weren't even democracies, and had little if any such thing as 'human rights', or social or techlogical structures such as motorized vehicles and cell phones.

    In fact, European society was highly stratified in every way; both formally and [especially] informally. The closest equivalent we may have of the latter today might be the experience [for many] of high school and its popularity hierarchy.

    I think many of the judgments you pass and conclusions you reach are incorrect to a degree - not way off, but just enough to be skewed away from accuracy - due to the trap of imposing present day mentality on a very different time.

    Your second problem is that you've adopted a quasi-informal writing style, and in the process you've oversimplified some very complex issues and points in history. With simplification comes inaccuracy.

    So, the 2 items together - contemporary distortion and oversimplification - weaken your argument and render it somewhat off in terms of accuracy.

    "I think that Haydn was a composer who got a raw deal"

    Maybe. But, not recently. In the 20th cent, Haydn was always recorded to some degree, and also performed in concert. Not as much as Beethoven, but hardly neglected. With the appearance of Dorati's cycle - followed up with the punch of the HIPs in the 1980s and 1990s, Haydn's a major player in the classical world.

    “the childlike blissful play…[that] enabled Beethoven to unlock the spiritual depths.”

    True. The romantics mostly [but not all] regarded Haydn [and any other of his colleagues] as good for infants. The century idolized Beethoven. They weren't alone. Beethoven's music continues to move people right down to our EDM/rap/rock/cyber age. Beethoven's never stopped. What we should be doing is using the historic data of how Haydn was viewed in the first half of the 19th cent to help us understand romanticism better, rather than a means to disparage the romantic century.

    "Haydn also greatly downgraded the role of the harpsichord"

    You might want to inform Adam Fisher and the rest of the HIPs. Seems they've completely missed that one.

    "Haydn worked as a freelance in London"

    That's actually an extremely important and complex issue in not only the history of music, but also society in general. What you're touching on is the shift of musicians [especially composers] from servitude to an aristocratic master to what we might now call 'self-employed' musician [also somewhat inaccurately, but good enough for the present discussion] that accompanied the rise of romanticism and potently influenced the direction of music. That process continued until after Schubert's death.

    You may want to consider analysis published since 1949. A good resource is also a Pelican book:

    "The Symphony - Haydn to Dvorak". My edition is from 1973. The editor is the estimable Robert Simpson.

    It comes in 2 volumes. Note that it starts with Haydn, which implies Haydn as the foundation of the symphony. Author and analyst Harold Truscott is particularly inclined to Haydn:

    "Haydn was the first supreme master to make the symphony and sonata the foremost vehicle of his though...No later symphonists have improved upon Haydn's position; no one can do more than equal him; even Beethoven, in some ways, scarcely surpassed him...he is the 'Father of the Symphony'. He first perceived and expressed the heights and depths this kind of music could attain". [p. 49].

    I don't particularly agree with all of that, but Dr. Truscott was way smarter than I.
    Last edited by Krummhorn; May-04-2017 at 07:50. Reason: mpm

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    Re Krummie's "mpm". Somebody? TIA

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    Senior Member Xaltotun's Avatar
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    Haydn is one of my favourite composers, but I also love the Romantics and understand why they felt the way they did. I didn't really like this thread until this guy Neward Thelman came along. Bravo, Sir! Excellent analysis.

    If I may add a tiny bit of my own, it could be this: classicism is the universality of Reason (as in concepts and language - and: conversation!). It is as universal as this Reason is universal. It's like Kant. It's all true and complete on its own playing field but it's not the whole picture. Kant already realized this and left the Ding an sich outside our grasp. Trying to grasp what remains outside concepts and language, romanticism is the universality of human personality or experience, the acceptance of a larger pre-existing and shared whole that comes before Reason. "Sum, ergo cogito." It's the analysis of this elusive sum. It's deine Zauber bindet wieder was die Mode streng geteilt. It's Wagner and Freud.

    So they're equally universal in a way, but one covers more than the other, and thus is more ambitious.
    Wäre das Faktum wahr, – wäre der außerordentliche Fall wirklich eingetreten, daß die politische Gesetzgebung der Vernunft übertragen, der Mensch als Selbstzweck respektiert und behandelt, das Gesetz auf den Thron erhoben, und wahre Freiheit zur Grundlage des Staatsgebäudes gemacht worden, so wollte ich auf ewig von den Musen Abschied nehmen, und dem herrlichsten aller Kunstwerke, der Monarchie der Vernunft, alle meine Thätigkeit widmen.

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  7. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xaltotun View Post
    So they're equally universal in a way, but one covers more than the other, and thus is more ambitious.
    Clarification. Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hpowders View Post
    Yeah. That was characteristic of the time. Huge egos. The Romantics lead by Schumann thought their way was better than just about all who came before them.
    Schumann, like Mendelssohn and Brahms f.i., was a huge admirer of Bach.

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    As for the OP's "raw deal" for Haydn until recently: Here's a very interesting book I recently finished reading, Reviving Haydn by Bryan Proksch.

    It's very pertinent to this topic, and though I knew the basic outlines of this story - how Haydn's sterling reputation sank down as it became encrusted with the quaint, bewigged "Papa Haydn" cliche - Proksch pulls in many historical sources to show when it hit bottom, what household names were involved, and what factors brought his reputation as an innovative, passionate artist back up to a reasonable level.

    There's an in-depth discussion of how Schumann's (or really, the Schumanns') thinking evolved and a look at the roles played by people like Saint-Saens, D'Indy, Schoenberg and Schenker. In the overall unfolding of events, "fake news" about Haydn's Croatian heritage turned out to be a surprisingly large factor.

    Recommended for any fan of Haydn or of musicological trends in general.
    Last edited by Funny; May-09-2017 at 07:10.
    "If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." - Jack Handey

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