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Haydn and Cosmology

Episode 3 of 5

Writer and biographer Richard Holmes explores Haydn's reaction to the ideas of the astronomer William Herschel and its possible impact on his oratorio The Creation.

In 1792, on his first visit to London, Haydn visited the observatory of the great German-born astronomer William Herschel in Slough. Herschel's 40-foot telescope was the biggest in the world, and while looking through it Haydn would doubtless have learned something of Herschel's radical, potentially aetheistical theories on the formation of galaxies. Five years later, he composed his great oratorio The Creation, a seemingly unquestioning account of origins of the world as described in Genesis.

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