Humour in Haydn
Most of us know that Haydn is known for his little jokes and things in his music. But does anyone have any suggestions of any books or articles about said subject matter? I am learning Haydn's c major piano sonata at the moment and I went through the Haydn G major concerto with my teacher today in our first online Zoom lesson (a whole other story haha). So I'd like some info on this topic so I can try and inform my interpretation for both pieces and any future ones I may play (hopefully all of it ^_^)
Thanks in advance!
This is an article by the great pianist Andreas schiff
I like that haha
You're doing the G Major Violin concerto? On the viola?
No haha. I didn't realise my teacher didn't have the viola music, so he suggested we do the Haydn instead (I sent a recording of myself playing it a little while ago)
Haydn maybe wrote a thousand Minuet & Trio movements in all of his chamber music and symphonies. One would think that he wore out the form, got boring, but in every one that I have heard, there is something clever, surprising, humorous. Haydn may have been the most mentally healthy of the great composers; there is positive, balanced mood to everything, even the sturm -und -drang middle symphonies.
Haydn wasn't above using folk tunes. A good example is the opening of the 3rd movement (rondo) of his D maj cello concerto, which bears a startling resemblance to an English folk song "Here we go gathering nuts in May" (there may be versions of this tune elsewhere on the European subcontinent).
Most baroque-era music that wasn't based on a particular dance music rhythm (most of it) was based on Renaissance counterpoint. A piece would usually begin, develop, and conclude in basically the same texture and rhythm. One of the radical departures from this in the developing classical style was to think of music as discourse, a conversation. Haydn was one of the pioneers of this style, where a theme of a piece could begin with a phrase in one texture, and a response in a contrasting texture. As if the you were saying, "I'm here to tell you something important," and the response could be, "That's outrageous!" It's one reason why Mozart operas are better than those written in the baroque era. Haydn could write a nice little dance tune, too, of course, but his style usually demonstrates a delight in contrast, where one thing could be instantly followed by a surprising response. This is a basic feature of humor, and why Haydn's music (and Mozart's, and Beethoven's...) can seem humorous, IMO.
This is funny because I had actually just gotten music to play Haydn Joke quartet No.2.. You could look at that too but it's not necessarily a article or video :/
Paul, the reason why Mozart operas are better than those written in the baroque era is that Mozart was a greater composer than those who wrote operas in the baroque era - but not all baroque operas are without operatic dialogue. The lines
John, we disagree about the quality of composition in the baroque and classical eras, but that wasn't the point of my comparison. Composers in the baroque were wonderful, but the classical style was far better suited to dramatic conversation. Mozart is not necessarily a "better" composer than Purcell or whoever, my point ("one reason...") was that he was given an entirely different set of tools, mainly from his teachers, including Haydn and J. C. Bach, among others. In any case, humor--responding to the OP--is far more easily expressed in the classical style than the baroque style.
Baroque composers could find ways to be humorous or funny if they felt the need; their style did not prevent that. Bach has a cantata about the supposed dangers of coffee-drinking, another about the manners of peasants (which we probably don't find as humorous as Bach's contemporaries did). I heard a cantata by Telemann once, titled "Der Schulmeister" (the teacher) where the teacher tries to make his students sing a fugue...
Yes, Albrecht, anyone can make a joke, and classical era composers can write serious music. The OP was discussing classical style--you know, the actual notes on the page--and how it creates humor.
Paul I get exactly what you mean. The reason I ask is that I was watching a Robert Levin piano masterclass on a Haydn sonata, so it got me thinking about it in other places. the only one I knew of was at the end of his Op.33 no 2 (The Joke) which I have actually played I think
Paul, excuse me, if someone writes "but the classical style was far better suited to dramatic conversation" in a post about musical humor it is not a sign of illiteracy to point out that baroque composers could do humor as well if they chose.
I'm not sure that Beethoven was being sarcastic about malinconia: the word originally incorporated all stages of the bipolar condition (see https://www.exclassics.com/anatomy/anatomy1.pdf), including the manic phase.
I know I am not stating majority opinion on malinconia. The section just seems to me overdone for effect rather than serious. But it is also true that the adagio from that quartet is very serious; maybe the most impressive slow movement in the entire set.
Beethoven didn't coin the term "scherzo" but he is I think the most humourous composer of them all. The Malinconia I'd say is stage-tragic, somewhat tongue-in-cheek but not as much as his so-called "quartetto serioso" Op.95 which ends like a comic opera. His very last two string quartet movements (the Op.135 and Op.130 finales - the last he ever completed?) are full of high spirits that make me smile - played appropriately the Op.135 can even make me LOL!
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