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Haydn: The "Paris" Symphonies.

Haydn: The "Paris" Symphonies. By Bernard Harrison. (Cambridge Music Handbooks.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. [ix, 124 p. ISBN 0-521-47164-8 (cloth); 0-521-47743-3 (pbk.). $39.95 (cloth); $12.95 (pbk.).]

Haydn Studies. Edited by W. Dean Sutcliffe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. [xiii, 343 p. ISBN 052 1-58052-8. $69.95.]

Haydn research has flourished in both England and the United States in the past decade. Books by David Schroeder, James Webster, Gretchen Wheelock, Elaine Sisman, Ethan Haimo, and Bernard Harrison, among others, have elevated Haydn scholarship to a new level, bringing historical and analytical methods to bear on Haydn's music in a more rigorous manner than ever before. The two recent books from Cambridge University Press under review contribute further to this critical renaissance, Both volumes ably integrate contextual and musical discussion, gauging the importance of individual works or groups of works in Joseph Haydn's oeuvre and explaining how they reflect contemporary aesthetic trends.

Bernard Harrison begins his book with a general overview of the early publication and performance history of Haydn's "Paris" symphonies, nos. 82-87 (commissioned by the Concert de la Loge Olympique, Paris; composed in 1785-86) and a detailed examination of the reception of Haydn's music at the Concert spirituel in Paris. In the late 1770s, Haydn's symphonic works were less popular than those of J. F. X. Sterkel, though they were established in the Concert spirituel repertory; it was the extraordinary success of Haydn's Stabat mater in 1781 that firmly established him, in Parisian eyes, as the most popular and critically acclaimed composer of the era. Performances of Haydn's symphonies Outnumbered those of Sterkel's for the first time in 1782 and accounted for around 85 percent of all symphonic performances at the Concert spirituel by the end of the 1780s. Harrison suggests that the "apogee of the Haydn symphony at the Concert spirituel" (p. 20) in the late 1780s might be linked to performances of the "Paris" symphonies, probably heard there for the first time in 1788.

Harrison next turns his attention to the "popular" and "learned" tastes of late-eighteenth-century Parisian critics and audiences (chaps. 3-4). The cult of virtuosity at the Concert spirituel was the most prominent embodiment of popular taste, in part explaining the appeal of Haydn's symphonies. As Harrison points out, "the richness of the concertante writing in Haydn's symphonies was appreciated in Paris and was compatible with the French taste for virtuoso concertos and symphonies concertantes" (p. 31). At the same time, virtuosity was disparaged among learned writers, who in any case found instrumental music inferior to vocal music on aesthetic grounds. Yet for Parisian critics, Haydn's instrumental music exemplified "a sub-category of works which somehow preserved or reinvented ... the aesthetic qualities of vocal music" (p. 41). Haydn himself showed an affinity for learned aesthetic theory, especially its emphasis on beautiful melody.

Turning to the music itself in chapters 5 to 8, Harrison combines analytical and aesthetic commentary, referring at times to issues raised in the first half of the book. His identification of several melodies that reflect the aesthetics of simplicity, nature, and beauty--in the first and second movements of number 82, the trios of numbers 86 and 87, and the second movement of number 85, for example--is grounded in his discussion of learned taste in chapter 4. Similarly, his arguments for Haydn's "genius" and "originality" (in the eighteenth-century sense of transcending convention) in number 85 refer back to chapter 2, Harrison's analyses are neither dogmatic and rigid nor overly technical and detailed; the empirical blend of formal, harmonic, motivic, topical, and aesthetic commentary renders them at once accessible and challenging. They are enhanced by clear and accurate tables.

Haydn: The "Paris" Symphonies is a welcome and valuable contribution. It goes a long way toward redressing a long-standing imbalance in Haydn scholarship in favor of his London works, showing that the "success of Haydn's music in Paris is ... no less extensive or significant than the composer's more copiously documented triumphs during his sojourns in London in the 1790s" (p. 24). This is Bernard Harrison's final contribution to Haydn research; he died in August 1998 at the age of forty, and he will be greatly missed.

W. Dean Sutcliffe's Haydn Studies, like the Harrison volume, contains an elegant mix of reception history, aesthetic and stylistic commentary, and analysis. Its nine contributors, adopting very different historical and theoretical perspectives, offer a fascinating cross section of current approaches to Haydn's music.

Opening the collection is Leon Botstein's insightful essay titled "The Consequences of Presumed Innocence: The Nineteenth-Century Reception of Joseph Haydn." Many writers in the romantic period, including Adolph Kullak, Franz Brendel, and Robert Schumann, regarded Haydn as a historical figure, more significant as a precursor to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven than as a musician who possessed, in Schumann a words, "a [deep] relevance for today's world" (p. 11). Although conceptions of Mozart and Beethoven changed in the nineteenth century as musical taste and culture evolved, Haydn's bland image endured. In light of critical emphasis on genius and originality, the qualities ascribed to Haydn's music--geniality, pleasurability, and "childlike immediacy" (p. 12)--placed him firmly below Mozart and Beethoven. His "deification into irrelevance" (p. 21) was a product, Botstein explains, of the prevailing cultural and aesthetic climate.

Whereas the nineteenth century undervalued Haydn's music in general, the twentieth has tended to marginalize certain genres. In chapters 2 and 3, James Webster and Jessica Waldoff turn their attention to opera and other vocal music. Webster's essay, "Haydn's Sacred Vocal Music and the Aesthetics of Salvation," focuses on four works, the Missa Cellensis (H. XXII:5, 1 766), Salve regina in G Minor (H. XXIIIb:2, 1771), Te Deum in C Major (H. XXIIIc:2, 1800) and Harmoniemesse (H. XXII:14, 1802). Building on the concept of through-composition first introduced in his book haydn's "Farewell" Symphony and the Idea of Classical Style (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), Webster shows that "the most important conceptual image ... of salvation" in the sacred music is projected by through-composition, thus "[becoming] a goal, in a personal, religious sense: a new state of being, a musical realization of the desire for a state of grace" (p. 45). In her excellent article "Sentiment and Sensibility in La vera cos tanza," Waldoff situates Haydn's opera at the center of Enlightenment thought. While the character Rosina transforms the concept of the sentimental heroine (originating with Samuel Richardson's Pamela) in both plot and music, the erratic Count, criticized by modern commentators for his irrationality and inflexibility, "possesses the greatest sign of an inner life and a humane and virtuous nature that the age can bestow--an excessive sensibility" (p. 107).

Daniel K. L. Chua's contribution, "Haydn as Romantic: A Chemical Experiment with Instrumental Music," is an audacious attempt to interpret Haydn's music, and the music of the classical period more generally, in a romantic fashion. Negotiating his way through complex concepts of Lebenskraft and "chemical wit" and testing their applicability to Haydn's and Mozart's instrumental music, Chua finds absolute music deeply ironic, "[remaining] ineffable and incomplete as a negative absolute ... creating an artificial nature full of contradictions that reflect the uncertainty and the divisions of the modern ego" (pp. 150-51). 'Though the reader may not wish so follow Chua in every one of his interpretative jumps--why exactly is the "ironic consciousness" at the beginning of the recapitulation of Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony above rather than part of the music?--his essay must certainly be recognized as a tour de force of interpretative ingenuity.

The next three essays focus on Haydn's so-called "Sturm und Drang" symphonies. In "Haydn's 'Cours complet de la composition' and the Sturm und Drang," Mark Evan Bonds reevaluates Haydn's music of the late 1760s and early 1770s in view of Anton Reicha's anecdote that Haydn undertook a "complete course of composition" in 1772. As Bonds explains, this period should be understood not as "an abandonment of earlier principles or a dramatic change of direction," but as "a period of intense, quasi-systematic exploration" (p. 160). Bonds finds musical evidence for this exploration in striking harmonic, tonal, contrapuntal, and motivic processes, as well as in stronger relationships between individual movements in the symphonic cycle; he concludes that the drop in intensity in Haydn's music of the middle to late 1770s marks a period of stylistic consolidation. Webster continues the focus on this decade in his essay "Haydn's Symphonies between Sturm und Drang and 'Classical Style': Art and Entertainment." Traditionally marginalized as preclassical, Haydn's symphonies of the late 1770s can be more positively interpreted, Webster argues, when viewed as an interaction of artistic values (mixed styles, compositional innovations, complexity of tone) and entertaining elements oriented toward popular appeal.

In contrast to Bonds and Webster, Michael Spitzer brings a systematic theoretical approach to Haydn's music of the 1770s. In "Haydn's Reversals: Style Change, Gesture, and the Implication-Realization Model," he applies theories devised by Eugene Narmour to argue for a shift of emphasis in the interaction of style shapes and structures after 1772-73, rather than a radical change of musical style. While his conclusion--the "Sturm und Drang is poised; the galant is stormy. That is Haydn's most dramatic reversal" (p. 217)--seems somewhat tenuous, his sensitive reevaluation of this important period in Haydn's development is welcome.

The remaining three articles address stylistic issues in Haydn's music and his status in the musical world. In his essay "The Haydn Piano Trio: Textual Facts and Textural Principles," Dean Sutcliffe debunks the standard critical view that these works are solo piano sonatas with added string parts. He identifies and explains Haydn's previously neglected textural practices, including passages of idiomatic string writing in which the piano appears to copy the strings, dialogue textures, and a wide variety of harmonic and coloristic roles fulfilled by the cello. George Edwards, in "Papa Doc's Recap Caper: Haydn and Temporal Dyslexia," charts Haydn's subversive recapitulatory practices; among them are unusual "hinges" between development and recapitulation sections, and destabilizations in which the reprise of the second group, for example, is emphasized at the expense of preparation for the recapitulation. Edwards's discussions are occasionally unconvincing in detail--I fail to see, for example, how the moment o f recapitulation in the first movement of the String Quartet op. 33, no. 1, is in any way ambiguous--but he aptly demonstrates the radical nature of Haydn's recomposition in many of his recapitulations. Robin Holloway's "Haydn: the Musician's Musician," a suitably racy and somewhat irreverent final chapter, assesses Haydn's unique attributes in a much more general way. Painting with a broad brush, Holloway identifies Haydn as the purist, the most intellectual and self-conscious of composers, concerned more than any other with the music's "intrinsicality."

Haydn Studies is a rich and stimulating collection. Refreshingly free of modish criticism, it engages with many of the most important aesthetic, stylistic, and historical issues in Haydn scholarship and makes a significant contribution to Haydn research. Those reading from beginning to end will notice how well the editor has ordered the individual essays. Throughout, the contributors display an engaging sense of humor, in spite of the seriousness of their scholarly tasks: Chua describes Alexander von Humboldt as having had "quite an experience" when he "stuck a silver rod up his anus and a zinc disc in his mouth and basically electrocuted himself" (p. 132); Sutcliffe talks of "future Texture Inspectors" (p. 290); Edwards mentions composers who "take a vacation during the recapitulation" (p. 291); and Holloway refers to Mozart on an "off day," Franz Schubert's "sleepwalking," and "the trickle and gush of a Vivaldi, Raff, Martinu, Henze" (p. 324). No doubt Haydn, master of musical wit and humor par excellence, would have approved.
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Title Annotation:Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 1999
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