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ClassicsOnline Home » HAYDN, J.: Keyboard Concertos (Hoeren, Haugsand, Muller-Bruhl)
Joseph Haydn’s concertos for keyboard instruments contain some of his most personable and readily enjoyable music. Their lively fast movements framing lyrical Andantes, Adagios and Largos, never fail to delight with their unaffected virtuosity and galant charm. Composed at a crucial juncture in the keyboard concerto’s development as a popular genre, Haydn’s contributions recall comparable works by Baroque masters such as Handel, match the Rococo grace of J. C. Bach, and occasionally point towards the larger-scale Classical piano concertos of Mozart.
By Benjamin Katz
American Record Guide
By James H. North
By Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics
Joseph Haydn (1732–1809)
Born in 1732 in the village of Rohrau, near the modern border between Austria and Slovakia, Joseph Haydn was the son of a wheelwright. He had his musical training as a chorister at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna and thereafter earned a living as best he could from teaching and playing the violin or keyboard. During these earlier years he was able to learn from the old composer Porpora, whose assistant he became. Haydn’s first regular employment came in 1759 as Kapellmeister to a Bohemian nobleman, Count von Morzin. This was followed in 1761 by appointment as Vice-Kapellmeister to one of the richest men in the Empire, Prince Paul Anton Esterházy, succeeded on his death in 1762 by his brother Prince Nicolaus. On the death in 1766 of the elderly and somewhat obstructive Kapellmeister, Gregor Werner, Haydn succeeded to his position, remaining in the same employment, nominally at least, until his death in 1809.
Much of Haydn’s service of the Esterházys was at the new palace of Eszterháza on the Hungarian plains, a complex of buildings to rival Versailles in magnificence. Here he was responsible for the musical establishment and its activities, including regular instrumental concerts and music for the theatre, opera and church. For his patron he provided a variety of chamber music, in particular for the Prince’s favourite instrument, the baryton.
On the death of Prince Nicolaus in 1790 Haydn was able to accept an invitation from the violinist-impresario Salomon to visit London, where he already enjoyed a considerable reputation. He was in London for a second time in 1794 and 1795, after which he returned to duty with the Esterházy family, now chiefly at the family residence in Eisenstadt, where he had started his career. Much of the year, however, was passed in Vienna, where he spent his final years, dying as the city fell once more into the power of Napoleon’s army.
Haydn’s keyboard music was at first written for the harpsichord, with later works clearly intended for the pianoforte, as dynamic markings show. His career coincided with changes in the standard keyboard instrument, as the fortepiano and then the pianoforte, with their hammer action and dynamic possibilities, gradually replaced the harpsichord and clavichord. At the same time there was a parallel change in instrumental forms, as the structure that has come to be known, among other titles, as sonata-allegro form, developed.
Unlike Mozart, a virtuoso soloist in his own piano concertos, Haydn had the usual competence of a successful professional musician of his time, able to lead the orchestras he directed from the violin, or, more commonly, from the keyboard. The demands on each composer were very different, with Mozart, particularly in the last decade of his life in Vienna, relying on his reputation as a performer and arranging his own subscription concerts, and Haydn, employed by a princely patron, with an orchestra and a theatre at his disposal, with the concomitant duties and relative security.
Before entering the service of the Esterházys Haydn had written works designed for keyboard, either harpsichord or organ, and a simple string ensemble. The organ pieces might well have served their purpose at a time when Haydn was employed as an organist and church musician in Vienna. An autograph copy of the Concerto in C major, Hob.XVIII:1, survives, with the date 1756 added subsequently, scored for organ, two oboes, two trumpets (or horns) and strings, including a viola. It was played on the occasion of the solemn profession of Therese Keller, Haydn’s future sister-in-law, as a nun in the order of Poor Clares in 1756, and in old age Haydn fancied that his Double Concerto for Organ, Violin and Orchestra, Hob.XVIII:6 (8.570482) had been played on the same occasion. The concerto is a relatively extended work, with the second movement finding a place for a cadenza.
The Concerto in C major, Hob.XVIII:5, is listed with the previous concerto in the Breitkopf catalogue of 1763 as for harpsichord and strings, although it appears in Eisenstadt as including two horns, in the parts actually two trumpets, perhaps a later addition. The probable date of composition is between 1752 and 1755 and it was at one time attributed to Wagenseil, whose style of keyboard writing that of Haydn resembles at this period.
The Concerto in C major, Hob.XVIII:8, is scored for an orchestra that includes two trumpets or horns, timpani and strings, without viola. Again the Breitkopf catalogue offers a certain date post quem non, 1766, although the concerto presumably dates from the period between 1752 and 1755 and was intended primarily for the organ. The work was at one time attributed to Leopold Hofmann, Kapellmeister at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna and a former pupil of Wagenseil whom he succeeded as Hofklaviermeister to the imperial family.
Scored for organ or harpsichord and strings, without viola, and at one time attributed to Wagenseil, the Concerto in F major, Hob.XVIII:7, has been regarded as of doubtful authenticity in this form. Its outer movements are versions of an early Piano Trio, Hob.XV:40, by Haydn, for which a date of about 1760 has been suggested. The source of the arrangement is unknown, as is the composer of the minor key slow movement.
Listed in the Breitkopf catalogue in 1771, the Concerto in C major, Hob.XVIII:10 dates from the same period as the other C major concertos, between 1752 and 1755, originally intended, it may be supposed, for the organ, but, in common with the others, equally practicable with a solo harpsichord. It is scored for an accompanying ensemble of two violins and cello and has an F major slow movement, followed by a final 3/8 Allegro.
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HAYDN, J.: Keyboard Concertos (Hoeren, Haugsand, M...