Durante, “Stabat Mater” 7:30 Thursday in Mem Chu


Very proud to see current and former 41 students Ethan, Shu Chen, and Danielle S in the Stanford Report today, preparing to perform the recently rediscovered “Stabat Mater” by early-18th-c Italian master Francesco Durante.

Neapolitan composer and teacher Durante taught Pergolesi, whose “Stabat Mater” for soprano, alto, and strings was one of the most durable and widely-circulated pieces of sacred music in mid-18th century. It was held up as an ideal of simple, unpretentious, and sincere religious and musical expression.

At the Haydn conference, Prof William Weber talked about the debates in 1760s Paris over whose “Stabat Mater” was superior – Pergolesi’s tender, small-scale and refined setting, or Haydn’s more grand and dramatic one.

How will Durante’s setting fit into that picture?


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.]

Haydn, Day 2: Colin Bailey of the DeYoung Museum

“Fragonard, Mme DuBarry, and the Progress of Love”.

1771, newly built house for Mme DuBarry, the official mistress of Louis XV. Fragonard’s 4 panels commissioned for her salon, but rejected. Fragonard took them to a relative’s house in Gras (?), in Lyon.

I’m so curious about the category “official mistress”… How was that different from an Unofficial Mistress? How did you get to be an Official mistress? What privileges did that give?  Did you have to be married? Did your husband have to agree? Was this a concept unique to France, or did other countries have it too?

[I love the phrases “amorous swains” and “the worst excesses of the French Revolution.]

Fragonard as the “amorous Cherubino of French painting 🙂   But also a serious, successful academic painter of historical subjects – Prix de Rome 1760. Glorious dramatic painting of an antique priest sacrificing himself in lieu of a girl who had rejected him.

I would like to have an 18×9-foot allegorical painted ceiling panel n my home.

Haydn conference, day 2: James Johnson

1720-1780, dispersal of patronage beyond Versailles, to households of wealthy/noble individuals. Most influential: La Poupliniere. (Tax collector, wealthy bourgeois who “lived like a prince,” died 1762) Musicians lived in his household at Passy (including Rameau). Weekend concerts, Mass and concerts on Sunday, informal music all thru the week. Mozart’s letters mention playing various aristo households in Paris.

Distinction between old hereditary aristocracy and newly ennobled people  (so that complicates the category of “noble patrons”)

Household orchestras were small – 4 or 6-15 (so that complicates the categories “orchestral music” and “chamber music”)

1725: Academie Royale begins to sponsor “Concerts Spirituel” by the opera orchestra on days when operas weren’t played. Open to public, but very expensive, so effectively limited to elite.

Patrons began to pool resources to sponsor music/ensembles and offer semi-public subscription concerts. (Economic context of severe depression).  Eg 600-seat hall in the Hôtel de Soubise. Series directed by Gossec, composer/conductor

(Music example: Gossec, Revolutionary ode to Liberté – simple, syllabic, grand chorus with trumpets and drums. Gossec adapted the traditional form of a French opera tableau to the new Revolutionary content, with chorus hailing the allegorical figure of Liberty instead of Venus or the King.)

1782: Concerts de la Loge Olympique (Masonic lodge). Patrons/subscribers and musicians all required to be Freemasons. Ethos of reason, equality, humanitarianism. Women could also subscribe!
AMAZING INDIVIDUAL TO LEARN MORE ABOUT: the Chevalier de St. George, director of these concerts – son of a nobleman and his African slave in Guadeloup [?] – brought to France at age 7 – brilliant fencer, violinist, composer, conductor. Music example, harpsichord sonata by St George. [Some historical characters deserve to have novels written about them – any aspiring novelists reading this??]
This society commissioned the 6 “Paris” Symphonies.  Masonic connection Paris-Vienna.

WHY did patrons sponsor music? Exercise of power, discrimination, display of taste, power of making distinctions; sociability, occasions for gathering and socializing, accompaniment to dining and private devotions. Music all the time for everything.

By the 1770-80s, most musicians did NOT live in patrons’ household – commuted from Paris. (Even for early morning and late-night gigs). Difficult life. Some musicians doubled as servants, valets, cooks, etc.  After the Revolution, Grétry recalled that musicians under the Old Regime had been “no more than puppets,” “treated like instruments, to be put away when the sonata is finished.” Musicians were artisans, not artists.

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.


Farinelli stars again!

Who’s up for a field trip to London to see the play “Farinelli and the King,” starring Mark Rylance* as King Philip of Spain and counter-tenor Iestyn Davies as legendary castrato Farinelli?

An interview with Davies, about his career as a counter-tenor, the history of castrati, and what it’s like to revive baroque opera today. He also sings 20th-c and newly composed repertoire by Britten, Adès, and Nico Muhly.

*Mark Rylance: some think he’s the greatest living Shakespearean actor; currently starring as Thomas Cromwell in the BBC adaptation of Tudor-era novel “Wolf Hall”; I’m VERY EXCITED about this.