Good morning. Did you sleep well? Here’s is some very gentle music to bring you from darkness to light, a slow musical wake-up, a friend touching your shoulder and whispering: “It’s time.” Time to enjoy a little masterwork. Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet in F Op. 2 No. 4 (Hob III:10). A piece that testifies that the young composer had come to maturity and that he had an excellent sense for what his audience was looking for: spirited, light and entertaining music, innovative in its expressivity, traditional in its form.
An everyday drama unfolds: The bus is five minutes late when it arrives at the bus stop. It is nine minutes late by the time it reaches the station where I have to jump on the train. 60 seconds to run down the stairs to the platform, yelling like a madman – too late! The moment I arrive at train’s door, the train gently glides away, almost silently, seemingly undisturbed by my distress. Dammit! I’m furious. What now? The app gives me no good alternatives except to wait for the next train an hour later.
Isn’t it amazing that such an eminent and prolific composer like Joseph Haydn wrote no more than three harpsichord or piano concerts? I think it is, and no, I am not contradicting myself if an earlier post of mine comes to your mind. Haydn wrote more than three keyboard concertos, but those did not feature solo parts for the harpsichord or then piano. Only three then. Whose fault could it be? Did Haydn lack the talent? Certainly not. A natural penchant for chamber music? He wrote more than 100 symphonies. I guess his patrons never asked for more piano concertos, and then there was a brilliant competitor claiming this genre for himself: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Are you already in a festive mood? Christmas is less than a week away, and whatever your creed is, Christmas is something special, be it in Europe, the Americas or even Asia. Here is something solemn, uplifting, festive in every respect: Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 11 in E flat major (Hob. I:11). The composer most likely wrote it between 1760 and 1761, just before or just after he had been appointed to the court of Paul Anton Count of Esterhazy. His contract with the count stipulated that Haydn would compose a new piece anytime his employer wished to hear something new and that the count would have the exclusive rights to the piece, a ruinous clause that the Esterhazys’ luckily never used.