Donald Macleod discusses how Haydn got to grips with his employer's favourite musical instrument, a strange and obscure relative of the cello known as a baryton.
Affectionately nicknamed Papa, reverered as the 'Father of the Symphony' and 'Father of the String Quartet', this week Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Franz Joseph Haydn through another musical form that the composer made his own, his music for Trio.
In the early 1770s, Haydn pushed himself hard, and produced a prodigious array of new music. One of his strangest tasks was to master the favourite instrument of his his employer, Prince Nicholaus, a weird and obscure relative of the cello, known as the Baryton - for which Haydn produced a seemly endless parade of Trio sonatas.
The work came at a price, though, and Haydn's health began to fail. Eventually, things looked so precarious that his brother was summoned from Salzburg. His eventual recovery must have seemed miraculous and, in an act of gratitude for his salvation, Haydn composed his Salve Regina in G minor.
During this period, Haydn increasingly earned his nickname of "Papa", often acting on behalf of the court musicians when disputes erupted. One particularly delicate negotiation with the Prince was eventually resolved by Haydn in a brilliant act of musical diplomacy. His actions ended the squabble and gave the world his Symphony No.45, "Farewell".