Friday, July 11, 2014

Franz Josef Haydn - An Anomaly Unparalleled?

A few weeks ago, I decided to embark upon an adventure with a number of my students who had completed a study of both harmony and counterpoint with me. This 'adventure' consisted merely of a suggestion on my part; specifically:
"Try as fervently as you can to put yourselves into the worlds of Mozart and Beethoven as students of Haydn, with the attendant level of imagery these geniuses possessed, and what they saw in the works of their teacher. Then promulgate  an  analysis of what you see in his music that you might not  otherwise  have uncovered."
I was astounded at the general results - these students came up with additional and multidimensional answers germane to some of the Haydn piano works which could very well have been analyzed by either Mozart or Beethoven, or both. As  for  those of you who can analyze music through your own expertise, one  knows that in certain incarnations, there can be more than one answer available, and the only reality one comes up with is speculation; for example, "did Haydn want this area to be a secondary dominant or a minimal modulation? Is it through precedent? Or something else?"
There are sections within countless compositions that can bear more than one answer, in musical analysis, and one simply cannot summon the long -departed composer to supply us with a specific answer.
And therein lies the reason that I asked these students to assume a position of transfer in order to enhance their sense of analytical skills.
And they really enjoyed dealing with this process.  Their palpably increased awareness of Haydn's legendary  abilities to squeeze the juices of variations dry and to promulgate some uncanny surprises in a number of  surprising but totally logical twists and turns in his approach to modulation, are perhaps the salient reactions I have noted in these students. A great example in Haydn:  In an "E" flat sonata, the second movement is in "E", not "B" flat. How come?  The answer appeared to a couple of these students: "E" is the enharmonic  'other name'  to "F" flat, the Neapolitan of "E" flat major.
Nothing proven; except perhaps, an increased awareness of the curious limitations coexisting  with the  exquisite boundlessness attached to the process we call knowledge. 

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