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Poor, neglected Haydn

Posted by Christopher Shea  September 11, 2009 08:51 AM

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Joseph Haydn

From a review of recordings of the works of Joseph Haydn, marking the bicentennial of the composer's death:

Even with a recording industry in crisis, a new complete cycle of Beethoven's nine symphonies turns up seemingly every year. By comparison, only a handful of artists have recorded all of Haydn's symphonies.

A puzzling discrepancy! Or is it? Let's consider some possible reasons:

a.) Haydn is not popular, and CD's of his works don't sell well
b.) While popular with audiences, Haydn is not respected by professional musicians
c.) The man wrote 104 symphonies!

More interestingly, the introduction to the piece that makes this curious comparison observes that as recently as a half-century ago Haydn was viewed as every bit the equal of Mozart, by musicians and audiences alike.

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1 comments so far...
  1. I can't believe that the great Steve Smith wrote this; surely he meant something like "all twelve of Haydn's London Symphonies." Or something like that. I can remember when "Papa Haydn" was called "the father of the symphony." He certainly wrote a lot of very good ones. But they're nothing like Beethoven's. Only Mozart's 39th plays the same ball game that Beethoven turned into a series.

    I also remember when early-music listeners snobbishly but quite correctly observed that Beethoven wrote a lot of movie music. He's certainly closer to Mantovani than he is to Monteverdi.

    Posted by R J Keefe September 14, 09 12:32 AM
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