Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Miracle Called Haydn - His final Composition For Keyboard?...

During a period of rather directionless thought, the Hymn "Gott Erhalte" came wafting across my consciousness - the first reaction was how durable this theme was, having thrust itself  through the Hitler regime and emerging unscathed by any historical scars, having first emerged into world recognition as the Germanic answer to Britain's  anthem.
Which led to the chaos surrounding the identity of the composer of  a set of variations based upon the hymn. At first it was attributed to an Abbe; ultimately, the science and art we call Musicology proved beyond a doubt that these variations were written by Haydn, but not until about 1970! Ironically, it may well have turned out to be Haydn's final major work for keyboard. Considering the chaos which can surround the origin/existence of works of music from this and other periods in History Past, how can one be absolutely positive that a masterpiece of, say, Haydn, has not been consigned to permanent oblivion?
At any rate, I decided to analyze the harmonic aspect of these four variations as published by Urtext in Vienna.
As familiar as I am with the work of Haydn, I was once again reminded of the  boundlessness of vision Haydn demonstrates in these variations, especially in the third and fourth variations.
The  power of gravity in harmonic selection, coupled with the centrifugal forces emanating from his use of chromaticism are positively enthralling, especially when one is reminded that he  was born a generation before Mozart and almost half a century before Beethoven, both of whom, the world knows, were masters of the art of Theme and Variations.
It is known that Haydn spent much time extemporizing on the keyboard and jotting down the most pregnant ideas that were born out of these periods. And we can not be positive as to how many of these 'frozen'  ideas later appear as bases for development in published compositions we can hear every day.
For me, Haydn wears the badge of sublimity when he sets out to unravel the possibilities waiting to be created  out of a simple theme.

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