Stephen Johnson explores the impact of Haydn's Symphony No 100 in 1790s London. He examines the lives of those first listeners to reveal what our modern ears might be missing.
Stephen Johnson considers how five seminal pieces of music would have been appreciated by the audiences who heard them first. He probes the societies and cultures that shaped the experience of those original listeners to reveal what our modern ears might be missing.
Haydn's famous Symphony No.100, his "Military Symphony", stands as model of classical elegance. Its famous bugle and percussion effects feel, by modern standards, sophisticated and refined. However, in 1794, war with France was a frightening reality; his first London audiences would have included a good few aristocratic refugees from revolutionary Paris. One contemporary critic remarked: "It is the advancing to battle; and the march of men, the sounding of the charge, the thundering of the onset, the clash of arms, the groans of the wounded, and what may well be called the hellish roar of war increase to a climax of hellish sublimity.".
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