Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Master Architect - A View of Haydn...

I recall a piano recital of music written by one of my colleagues, and during the intermission I mentioned to him the clarity of design and direction his music was redolent with. He, almost without hesitation, replied "thank Haydn."
His reply occasionally returns to me whenever I peruse the music of Josef Haydn. The level of design and clarity of purpose continues to astound me, no matter how many times I analyze his work. First of all, be reminded of the century that begins with the birth of Haydn in 1732 and closes a magnificent circle formed by the Trio Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven in 1827 - a century like no other century in the history of music.
A few days ago I decided to look specifically at the techniques and tactics used by Haydn in his approach to thematic variation. As familiar as I am with the wonderful variations spread throughout his compositions, I find myself pretending to be a young Mozart and a young Beethoven, both of whom were students of Haydn, of course, and "imaging" their reactions to the endless array of possibilities that were actuated by Haydn in the variation form in so much of his piano music, for instance.
These two young geniuses must have been so strongly magnetized to the brilliance of the variational process that Haydn engendered(after all, both Mozart and Beethoven were master improvisers, especially Beethoven), that they must have been enraptured, both intellectually and spiritually, by the reality that these sublime examples of thematic variation were actually a form of, as it were, 'frozen' improvisation. And if musicians like me can be overwhelmed by the architecture of Haydn, one can only imagine the reactions of towering geniuses such as Mozart and Beethoven as they beheld, with their level of vision, the world of Possibility having been committed to paper.
Well, one can hear the results in the music of Mozart and Beethoven.

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