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Haydn’s sensibility

Webster, James (2010) Haydn’s sensibility. Studia Musicologica, 51 (1-2). pp. 13-27. ISSN 1788-6244

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Abstract

Recent interpretations of both Haydn’s personality (as a man) and his musical style (or ‘persona’) have focused on the two opposed categories earnestness and wit . The present essay adds a third category on both sides of the equation: sensibility (German Empfindsamkeit ), and argues that it is equally important. The various meanings of sensibility are laid out and their applicability to Haydn discussed, including his rich and varied relationships with lovers and intimate friends. The problematics of the possible correlations between an artist’s personality and his style are discussed; it is argued that, contrary to recent theories of their separation into different domains, these are in fact closely related. Sensibility was a central aspect of mid- and late 18th-century aesthetics, both in ideas about ideal human behavior, and in prose fiction, opera and drama, etc. — as well as instrumental music (Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach). In Haydn’s case, not surprisingly, it has so far been located in genres destined primarily for private use: keyboard music and lieder; this is illustrated by an analysis and interpretation of “Das Leben ist ein Traum” (Hob. XXVIa:21; published 1784). In such works we may imagine Haydn as ‘speaking to’ the dedicatee of the work, as well as the sympathetic listener. However, sensibility is also an important aspect of style in the string quartet and symphony, where it has almost never been considered relevant. Examples are discussed in the slow movements from the quartet op. 76 no. 5 and the symphonies nos. 75, 88, 92, 98, 99, and 102. It is argued that the old notion of ‘Classical style’ (fortunately now on the decline), with its rigid demarcation of ‘high’ instrumental genres from both vocal music (Haydn’s operas) and earlier instrumental Empfindsamkeit (Emanuel Bach), was the primary reason that scholars and listeners have until now remained unmoved by Haydn’s sensibility.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music / zene, szövegkönyvek, kották > M1 Music / zene
M Music and Books on Music / zene, szövegkönyvek, kották > M1 Music / zene > M10 Theory and philosophy of music / zeneelmélet, muzikológia
Depositing User: Endre Sarvay
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2017 14:27
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2017 14:27
URI: http://real.mtak.hu/id/eprint/65556

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