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«Different Stylistic Voices in Haydn’s Piano Music Dissertation Honour School of Music 2004 Table of Contents Introduction 3 Chapter One HAYDN AND ...»

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Candidate number: 19870

Different Stylistic Voices in Haydn’s Piano Music


Honour School of Music 2004

Table of Contents

Introduction 3

Chapter One




Chapter Two




Conclusion 42 Bibliography 44 2


The idea of doing research on Haydn’s piano music came to me a couple of years ago when, as a pianist, I started studying his works for performance purposes. I was immediately struck by the richness of musical ideas and fascinated by Haydn’s love for irregular phrase structures, his unusual sense of humour as well as the deeply emotional passages of his music. When I performed works of Haydn in public they were usually very well received. A member of the audience once approached me with the enthusiastic remark that there is ‘something for everyone’ in the F minor variations (Hob. XVII/6). Others were surprised by Haydn’s cheekiness (as in the daring ‘wrong’ chords in the 3rd movement of the sonata in C major, Hob. XVI/50).

However, much of Haydn’s music, though impressive and moving at first hearing,

can only be fully appreciated after closer study. As H.C. Robbins Landon says:

‘Haydn’s piano music is often complicated and formally wayward: its beauties do not, on the whole, lie on the surface. It is music whose appeal is primarily intellectual, requiring both thought and explanation.’1 Haydn’s late piano works in particular contain a wealth of musical styles that will form the centre of my investigation. Stylistic diversity – often creating great contrasts – can be found between individual works but also between the movements of a sonata and even within single movements. My aim is to search for the origins of these different styles, to consider how and why Haydn applied them and why the resulting compositions work the way they do. How does Haydn succeed in being humorous, for example? Or why do certain sections of his music sound so tremendously dramatic?

1 Foreword to Bailie, 1989, p. v.

3 Due to the limit of words, it is impossible to deal with all the influences Haydn underwent and I have thus decided to concentrate on two sets of topics, discussed in chapters one and two respectively, that are, I believe, not only of musicological interest but also of particular relevance for performers.2 I hope that my dissertation may provide a useful guide for all who wish better to understand Haydn’s late piano works– be they pianists, musicologists or simply amateurs of his music.

2 It must affect one’s interpretation of Haydn’s works significantly if one knows, say, that a piece of music is based on a traditional dance, for example, or if one realizes that not all of Haydn’s late piano music was composed for the delicate early Viennese instruments.

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In the eighteenth century – perhaps more so than in any other era – many (serious) musical styles (or idioms and forms, if one prefers) were directly linked to social practice outside of the ‘serious music’ domain.3 Such styles were often applied deliberately by composers, in the knowledge that their sources would be recognized by the audiences. For the modern listener, who may have little knowledge of the contemporary cultural and social context of that earlier epoch and of the common musical language of the time, it becomes difficult to identify such styles and even more problematic to understand the way in which these styles were imitated, manipulated, combined or deliberately applied, often quite out of normal context.

With Haydn in particular (who was a master of this kind of manipulation) it is crucial to be aware of the contemporary musical language. This chapter will therefore attempt to provide the necessary background information to clarify Haydn’s various musical references, as well as exploring the way in which Haydn applies the styles in question in order finally to create his own unique musical language.

3 Like popular entertainments, the hunt or military life, which however all in one way or another make use of musical elements. Some of these elements are then ‘recycled’ in the works of art music composers. Thus, ‘interested’ music becomes, in Kant’s terminology (in his Kritik der Urteilskraft of 1790) ‘disinterested’ music, an example of ‘free’ beauty. (Kant, 1988, p. 115ff., p. 146ff.)

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From about the middle of the eighteenth century dance became probably the most important social pastime of the lower, middle and upper classes.4 An aspect of the Francophile fashion of the eighteenth century,5 the art of dancing, was taken particularly seriously among members of the nobility. As was typical for aristocratic courts, balls were also regularly organized at the Esterházy court.6

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Kapellmeister) did not generally include supplying the necessary music or musicians for these balls, he did compose several sets of dances between the 1750s and 1790s.

These consist mainly of minuets7 but include six allemandes (1787) and twelve ‘Deutsche Tänze’ (1792).8 However, it is not these dances themselves but the integration of dance forms and elements into Haydn’s late piano works and his highly individual treatment of these forms that we shall examine in this chapter. Given their social popularity,9 it is not surprising that dances provided material for almost every musical genre and were used as models by many classical composers. Their rhythms virtually ‘saturated’ classical music; they would appear either as fully worked-out pieces or as figures and progressions within a given piece.10 In Haydn’s late piano music we can find examples of both cases.

4 See Besseler, 1961, p. 26 and Jones, 2002a, p. 58.

5 The upper class of the 18th century European society was obsessed by French culture and France at the time was regarded as the centre of the art of dancing. French dancing teachers could be found everywhere, even in England. See Besseler, 1961, pp. 27-8.

6 Jones, 2002a, p. 58.

7 For a short but useful description of these minuets see Wheelock, 1992, pp. 61-2.

8 Jones, 2002a, pp. 58-60.

9 In fact, not all dances had continued to be performed as such; some, such as the sarabande, had become purely instrumental forms.

10 Ratner, 1980, p. 9.

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Also known (in its original version) as the ‘angloise’,11 the contredanse was generally connected with the so-called low style12 and was described by Rousseau in the following words: ‘The melodies of contredanses are most often in duple time; they should be well articulated, brilliant, and gay, and still should be quite simple’.13 Among Haydn’s late works for the piano we find an interesting example of a movement written in the contredanse style: the finale of the famous sonata in E flat major, Hob. XVI/52. This movement, set in 2/4 time, reveals many important characteristics of the contredanse: the cheerful opening tune fulfils all the expectations described above by Rousseau and the typical quaver upbeat as well as the characteristic rhythms are retained.14 In the very first bar15 Haydn toys with the moment of arrival of the expected downbeat, postponing it by adding an extra bar of

repeated Gs:

[Ex. 1.1: Haydn, Hob. XVI/52, 3rd movement, bars 1-8] 11 Ratner, 1980, p. 13. The contredanse/angloise (or ‘country dance’ as it was originally called) was the most popular social dance in England in the eighteenth century. In contrast to the minuet it was danced by a group of people rather than in fixed pairs and in a far less restrained fashion than the minuet. See Besseler, 1961, pp. 27, 29.

12 Though in the second half of the century the contredanse became a fashionable dance and was danced by many members of the aristocracy, if in public ballrooms which included ‘mixed society’; see Wheelock, 1992, pp. 59-61 13 Ratner, 1980, p. 13, quoting J.-J. Rousseau, Dictionnaire de musique (1768), p. 122.

14 Somfai, 1995, p. 300.

15 Throughout the dissertation I refer to the bar numbering of the Wiener Urtext edition.

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applied throughout most of the remaining movement: his love for irregular phrase structure. Since the phrase structure of dance music reflects the tradition of choreographing dances (while choreographic patterns themselves reflected metrical patterns articulated in rhythms) it forms a crucial feature of this kind of music. Any asymmetries or unusual proportions in dance movements thus have special significance.

Let us look for example at the opening theme. The music could easily have been put into proper contredanse form by setting four bars in the tonic, four bars in the subdominant and another eight bars in the dominant; but instead we have eight bars of tonic, eight bars of supertonic and then another twelve bars leading back to the tonic, with the cadence thereby occurring in bar 28 instead of bar 16.16 The flowing movement of the contredanse is further halted by Haydn’s generous use of fermatas.

The first fermata already occurs after the first phrase in bar 8 and thus stops the music from getting properly under way. The same thing happens in bars 8-16 where the first phrase is repeated up a step followed by another fermata. In bars 195-203, just before the recapitulation, a series of five fermatas completely breaks the flow of the music (bb. 109-203 are even labeled ‘Adagio’). Haydn must have much enjoyed manipulating the common dance-like symmetry of the contredance when composing this finale. He knew that his daring phrase distortions would sound especially striking in a dance movement like this.

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The contredanse finale described above is complemented by a bass in the style of the musette (as for example in ex. 1.1, bb. 10-6 and 58-62), thus emphasizing the low style17 of the movement and giving it a more rustic flavour. This kind of sustained bass (or ‘drone’ or ‘bourdon’) is the principal feature of the musette. In the original dance it is usually played on a bagpipe, ‘cornmuse’ or ‘musette’ – either on a single note or on a fifth18 and in Haydn’s Presto it is typically combined with a simple little pastoral tune as described above.

The sarabande In contrast to the contredanse and the musette, the sarabande (sometimes characterized as a slow minuet)19 is an excellent example of the elegant and courtly, in other words of the high style, described by Johann Adolf Scheibe as ‘stately’ and ‘emphatic’, with thoroughly worked out ideas, a thick harmony and a melodic line which is ‘rich in invention, fresh, lively and elevated’.20 The second movement (Adagio) of Hob. XVI/52 is an excellent example of a highstyle sarabande and thus forms a huge contrast with the rustic finale discussed above.

The dotted rhythms present in almost every bar and the many solemn full chords contribute much to the gravity of the movement, while the flexible melodic line with its beautiful embellishments makes the movement a source of inventiveness.

17 More exactly, the musette was the imitative product of an upper class playing at being lower class.

18 See Ratner, 1980, p. 21.

19 Ratner, 1980, p. 11.

20 Ratner, 1980, p. 7, quoting Johann Adolf Scheibe, Der critische Musikus (1745), p. 126 ff.

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Perhaps one of the reasons why Haydn chose to set the slow movement in E major (which clashes so strongly with the E flat of the first and third movements) is to emphasize its highly sophisticated character by ‘raising’ it a semitone above the other two movements.

The minuet The minuet was by far the most popular of all the dances at the time. So it is not surprising that it is the dance that has left the greatest impact on Haydn’s music. Over 400 minuet movements can be found in Haydn’s instrumental music (the solo concerto being the only genre that does not make use of this dance)21 and although the string quartets and symphonies contain the best known examples it is the keyboard sonatas that probably present the most diversified use of the minuet.22 Let us begin with the ‘Tempo di Minuet’ finale of Hob. XVI/49 which contains many characteristics of the original dance. Both the minuet and trio to a large extent apply the symmetrical phrase structure of their model (i.e. regular 16-bar patterns

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minuet and trio are set in the same key and mode, as is common among Haydn’s music written to accompany the danced minuet,24 and the change in rhythm at the opening of the trio alludes to the traditional rhythmic contrast between the two sections.25 [Ex. 1.3: Haydn, Hob. XVI/49, 3rd movement, bars 1-4] [Ex. 1.4: Haydn, Hob. XVI/49, 3rd movement, bars 25-8] The most interesting aspect of this minuet does not lie in the manipulation of the characteristics of the original dance (such as in many of Haydn’s minuets and other dance movements) but in the adjustment of the danced minuet to the piano genre.

While the minuet-trio-minuet form was traditionally played with exact repetitions in 23 The characteristic Z or reversed S floor pattern of the minuet was completed by two eight-bar phrases.

Within this larger pattern a smaller pattern of four steps was repeated every two bars of music (the stresses of the rising and falling movements of the dancers were thus not always coincident with the characteristic downbeat stresses of the triple metre of the music). See Wheelock, 1992, p. 59.

24 Wheelock, 1992, p. 61.

25 See Somfai, 1995, p. 321.

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