Oppressed by weltschmerz in the light of recent events? Staring out at leaden November skies? Then why not listen to a string quartet? So much fine music has been written for the enduring and flexible line-up of 2 violins, viola & cello, much of it anguished, sombre & tormented! One might begin near the beginning in the relatively cheerful & sunlit world of Joseph Haydn’s Op. 20 quartets (1772): here’s no. 4 from that set. A tip-of-the-iceberg selection of others… [more inside]
If you whistle a tune often enough to a starling, the bird will not only sing it back to you, it will improvise its response and create something new. On May 27, 1784, Mozart whistled a 17 note phrase to a starling in a Viennese shop and to his delight it spat the tune right back — but not without taking some liberties first. So he bought it and brought it home. That bird lived with him for the three most productive years of his life, during which he completed more than 60 compositions, including Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. The piano concerto as we still understand it was built in those rooms. The “Jupiter” Symphony began and Figaro ended. Melodies that two centuries of humans have since whistled could have first been volleyed between a genius and his pet bird.
Joseph Haydn wrote a total of 107 symphonies, and is known as the 'Father of the Symphony.' You can listen to them all online at Haydn107.com, where each symphony is presented in different interpretations, along with introductory notes.
Oops! Swiss national broadcaster SRG turned back time on Monday when, while broadcasting an Austria/Germany soccer match, it offered subtitles accompanying Germany's national anthem that mistakenly included the "Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles" lyrics, a verse popular under Nazi rule but ignored since the fall of the Third Reich. The melody, Das Deutschlandlied, comes courtesy of Joseph Haydn, who penned the ditty in 1797. [more inside]
The Doctor of Music. "A General History of Music From the Earliest Ages to the Present Period, Volume IV", written by the English musician and historian Dr. Charles Burney (1726-1814) was published in 1789. Its first volume, completed in 1776, was the first History of music ever published. The fourth volume is of particular interest as it discusses the state of music in Burney's own lifetime. He observed the music, and musicians that he wrote about first hand. In fact, Burney was close friends with composers such as Haydn and Handel, he even played violin in Handel's orchestra, and lived with Dr. Thomas Arne for two years in London, as his apprentice. The fourth volume, to Dr. Charles Burney, was the most interesting as he preferred the music of the current time, finding no interest in "antiquarianism." In the main link, the entire volume -- in facsimile -- is available to readers. Burney also translated Pietro Metastasio's Memoirs. Also: The Burney Collection of Newspapers at the British Library. More inside.