Haydn: Patronage and Enlightenment, Day One (1)

I thought the morning session was great.  It was a treat to  see many of you there for the 10 am paper by Wolfgang Fuhrmann on Prince Nikolaus. That turned out to be a great choice for our class, because we’ve talked about other courtly patronage contexts and the musician’s role and the impact of patron’s needs/expectations/agendas on artists’ creative choices.

The 11 am paper by Thomas Beguin on piano music for the “insightful salon” was a bit disorienting at times as it swirled through a lot of cultural references and names from the history of medicine and psychology, but it was fantastically creative in presentation.  This was the one where the pianist had a slide of 21 selfies to update the concept of “physiognomy,” legible enotion, and personal character! He had a rather complex argument about the relationship between the sonatas and the salon context in which they were performed, so I look forward to a follow-up conversation about that.

I don’t think any of you heard/saw the 9 am paper  (by James Webster), but he ended by summarizing and strongly endorsing a chapter of the Cambridge Companion to Haydn, called something like “The Kitten or the Tiger: Tovey’s Haydn,” by Lawrence Kramer. SO that’s a follow-up recommendation.

The afternoon papers were also excellent, and maybe a bigger jump from what we’ve been doing in class.

The 2 pm paper by Caryl Clark was about Haydn’s last OPERA, which he finished and planned to present in London, but never did because the king (ie his agents) shut down the rehearsals. No explanation, no documentation – the police just showed up one day and sent everyone home.  So she was using available evidence to piece together a possible explanation of how Haydn’s opera project may have run afoul of rivalries and territory conflicts between 2 London impresarios (theater managers) and their political patrons/backers. This was a display of music-historical detective work!  One of Clark’s “big picture” claims was that even the new/modern London “commercial public sphere” (theater) was still shaped by the old/feudal dynamics of aristocratic patronage and control — so it complicated the simple stories about Haydn moving from court to city, from constraint to freedom, from patronage to marketplace.

 

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