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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Musical Interlude

(For politics, please scroll down)

From childhood, I have loved the music composed by Franz Joseph Haydn.

The Haydn motet below speaks to the time in which we are living right now:


Musical Musings provides the following information about Haydn's Insanae et vanae curae:
The beginnings of Haydn's motet Insanae et vanae curae (Insane and stupid worries flood our mind) began in 1775 with the composition of his first oratorio Il ritorno di Tobia (The Return of Tobias). The work written to an Italian liberetto was first performed in 1775 in Vienna and was a resounding success. But by 1781 the public's musical taste had changed so much that another planned performance in Vienna in 1781 failed to materialize due to lack of interest. Haydn revised the work and in 1784 a performance of the revision was performed in a benefit concert in Vienna. The oratorio had one more performance in 1808, after which Haydn took one of the choral numbers from the oratorio and rewrote it to a Latin text.

While Il ritorno di Tobia was popular in its day, it could not compete with Haydn's two masterpieces in the form The Creation and The Seasons. Perhaps that is why Haydn extracted this fine choral piece from it and revised it as a stand-alone work. The piece is in two contrasting sections. The first section is one of fear and dread, the second section is a more lyrical one. Each section is repeated. The original was written for choir and orchestra, but there is a version for choir and organ that was not written by Haydn that is sometimes performed.

Insane and stupid worries flood our minds,
often mad fury fills the heart, robbed of hope,
O mortal man, what good does it to strive for worldly things,
if you neglect the heavens?
All things work in your favor, with God on your side.

4 comments:

  1. We are taught that Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven are the greatest exemplars of the musical style known as "Viennese Classicism" For some reason Mozart and beethoven have tended to overshadow Franz Josef Haydn. I have never understood why, because not only did Haydn produce a prodigious amount of music –– all of it of the utmost excellence –– he was the very first to create great masterpieces in the then-new style, which was a radical departure from the long-established Barque tradition. Without Haydn Mozart and Beethoven might not have been possible –– or certainly would have turned out differently than they did. Haydn's influence is so clearly heard in the early works of Mozart and Beethoven that to inexperienced listeners these early works sound as if they almost might have been written by the older master, himself.

    The choral writing in this motet sounds a great deal like parts of Mozart's Requiem, –– especially the passages in descending chromatic harmonies ––, but of course, it was HAYDN who wrote those similar progressions earlier.

    When the world seems too chaotic and too much with me, I take refuge in prayer –– and listening to music of this high a quality.

    Goethe wrote: "Music is the most spiritual of all the arts."

    I think so too, and even go so far as to believe that writing, practicing, performing and listening to serious music is in fact a form OF prayer.

    Very therapeutic in any case.

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  2. AOW - you and Prager both!
    Nice input, FT.

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  3. If I had to choose one favorite Classical Period composer as my favorite, it's Haydn! From my childhood, I have loved his works.

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