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At Last, Freedom

Donald Macleod explores the aftermath of one of the most important moments of Haydn's life: the death of his patron Prince Nikolaus Eszterhazy, leaving the composer free to travel.

Donald Macleod explores the aftermath of one of the most important moments of Haydn's life: the death of his patron Prince Nikolaus Eszterhazy, leaving the composer free to travel.

Joseph Haydn's rightly lionised by music history as the "Father of the Symphony" - a man who took a nascent form and turned it into the very apex of musical composition. Repeating the trick with another benchmark musical genre seems almost greedy of him - and yet, with more than eighty masterful examples, Haydn's dubbed the "Father of the String Quartet" too. Which makes the neglect of one area of his musical output rather puzzling. Haydn wrote more than sixty keyboard sonatas, spanning a remarkable half-century in music history. This period saw harpsichords and clavichords replaced by the forerunners of the modern piano, and - more than that - keyboard music go from light dance suites to the sonata: a form that would shortly be taken by Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert into the very highest pinnacle of musical art. None of this could have happened without Haydn. And yet, his array of sonatas lag behind the fame and appreciation of his symphonies and quartets. This week, Donald Macleod puts that right: with no fewer than fourteen examples, in the hands of fourteen virtuoso pianists from the last century, with a supporting cast of musical excerpts from opera, chamber and vocal works.

In today's episode Donald Macleod explores two key relationships - one professional, one personal - crucial to the development of Haydn's keyboard sonatas. He introduces the composer's business dealings with the publisher Artaria, who would commission a number of new works, as well as Haydn's deep - and unrequited - affection for the pianist Maria Anna von Genzinger. Featuring two more complete sonata recordings performed by Emanuel Ax and Andreas Staier.

Haydn
Sonata No 58 in C major, Hob.XVI:48
Emmanuel Ax, piano

Haydn
Piano Trio No 27 in A flat. Hob. XV:14
Beaux Arts Trio

Haydn
Sonata No 59 in E flat major, Hob.XVI:49
Andreas Staier, fortepiano.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Joseph Haydn

    Sonata in C major H.16.48

    Performer: Emanuel Ax.
    • CBS:CD449128.
    • CBS.
    • 1.
  • Joseph Haydn

    Trio nn A flat major H.15.14

    Ensemble: Beaux Arts Trio.
    • PHILIPS: 4540982.
    • PHILIPS.
    • 5.
  • Joseph Haydn

    Sonata in E flat major H.16.49

    Performer: Andreas Staier.
    • DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI: RD77160.
    • DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI.
    • 3.

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