Haydn, Day 2 (afternoon)

William Weber, “Haydn and the late French Enlightenment: how did a canon arise?”

[Unraised and unanswered question: what was/is a canon??].

Haydn’s prominence in 1780s Paris, Concerts Spirituels.  French critics “canonized”  him for a Stabat Mater as good as Pergolesi’s.  (Pergolesi wasn’t in a “canon,” but several of his works were regarded as paradigmatic, standard-setting)    Haydn’s reputation was promoted in the French press – part of the explosion of journalism in the 1770s- 80s. [mentions book on the French Press and the Enlightenment. Central periodical: Mercure de France]

Types of music journalism: Musical reports, musical polemics, musical education (none of these are exactly “criticism”).

Philosophes and anti-philosophes  (?)  New development: the philosophes positioned themselves as writing for posterity, not for contemporaries. Also, important for philosophes to assert own, independent opinions, not just report or echo public opinions – EVALUATIVE criticism.  Philosophes wanted NEW topics and points of reference, rather than more familiar (operatic) ones like Gluck v Piccinni, Lully v Rameau, Rameau v Pergolesi, Gluck v Lully .. These “querelles” had all been debated to death by previous generations.  Haydn was a new topic, a new musician, writing in new genres (symphony, quartet).

1773, 1778-on.  Performances of Haydn symphonies, rising frequency; frequency of Stabat Mater. Haydn’s symphonies supplant French symphonies, too – proportion of French symphonies dropped during this period.  Not clear WHICH Haydn symphonies were played in France (performance of “Farewell” is documented.)  French preferred symphonies with a lot of solo writing; Weber suggests “La Tempesta” (no 8) with solo flute and violin. Chamber-like textures.  French press praised Haydn for being delightful, entertaining, surprising.  Canonic status secured by 1785; Paris symphonies (“The Bear,” “The Hen,” “The Clock” etc) commissioned 1786. [but what was “canonic status”?]

Pergolesi, Stabat Mater (1737) vs Haydn, Stabat Mater (1767).  [Follow-up: see Bernard Harrison, Haydn: The ‘Paris’ Symphonies (Cambridge U Press, 1998): 9-12 for a discussion of Pergolesi’s and Haydn’s Stabat Mater settings]
Pergolesi’s setting was performed all over Europe – more popular & widely performed than his comic opera La Serva Padrona. Sacred music infused with ‘touching’ (even erotic) sensibility.  Set for soprano + alto w string orchestra.  [this piece = flashback to Salieri’s childhood in Amadeus!]

Haydn’s for SATB soloists + chorus;  orchestra with oboes, louder, more energetic style.  [The passages he quoted didn’t mention any musical details, passages, movements, phrases, or specific qualities. What were they responding to, beyond the obvious/superficial differences?]

[IS he mapping pro-Haydn enthusiasm onto philosophes and secularism, pro-Pergolesi onto Jesuits and Italian/Catholicism? Kind of lost thread there.]


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