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The New Grove Haydn (The Composer biography series) Hardcover – 1983
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From Library Journal
In the early 1980s, Grove issued a "Composer Biography" series, with material taken from the first edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Likewise, these slim volumes are spin-offs of the second edition (LJ 3/15/01); consequently, the same new scholarship, fresh perspectives, and updated bibliographies that mark the NGII mark these books the first releases in the new series. For the first time, Stravinsky gets a title of his own. To some extent, the updates have been edited to appeal to a lay audience. For example, in the NGII article on Haydn, there is a section titled "Style, Aesthetics, and Compositional Method," which in the biography is reworded "Style and Method." In the NGII's coverage of Stravinsky, the dictionary section is titled "Posthumous Reputation and Legacy," but here it appears as "Then and Since." However, the texts themselves have not been dumbed down. Each book contains a works list, a bibliography, an index, and 12 pages of black-and-white illustrations (not seen); at press time, the publisher could not confirm whether the illustrations will be the same ones used in the NGII. As with the earlier editions, the work lists include page numbers where pieces are discussed in the text. Excellent for students and scholars, these manageable biographies are recommended for libraries where the earlier editions circulated well. Bonnie Jo Dopp, Univ. of Maryland Libs., College Park
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Excellent for students and scholars, these manageable biographies are recommended... -- Library Journal --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The book is one of a series of short biographies of the great composers taken from the 1980 edition of "The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians." As is pointed out in a short Preface, the book is shaped by its initial format as part of a dictionary. It is based upon the most current, for the time, and reliable scholarship about Haydn while aiming to avoid controversy or overly technical analysis. The book is short, well-organized, clearly written, and does not require formal musical training to understand. It includes a detailed bibliography, arranged by particular subjects (such as Haydn's life, his operas, his symphonies, piano sonatas, historical reputation, what have you) together with an extensive list (90 pages) of Haydn's compositions arranged by categories.
The text itself runs about 122 pages divided into seven chapters. The first five chapters are biographical and discuss what is known about Haydn's life from his early years, through his long association with the Esterhazys, to his two trips to London late in his career, and ending with his final years in Vienna. There is a short chapter on Haydn's personality, and a lengthy concluding chapter on Haydn's artistic development and accomplishment.
The format allowed for good discussions of Haydn's music. The biographical sections of the book offer information of the characteristics of Haydn's music during each period of his life, while the section on the composer's artistic development tries to capture the thread of the genres in which Haydn worked over the course of his life. The book helped me see how and why Haydn changed as a composer over the course of a 40 year career.
There are two broad themes that are emphasized in the book. First is Haydn's relative isolation during his many years at Esterhazy from the broader musical culture of Vienna. In a famous quotation, (p. 28) Haydn himself emphasized the importance of this isolation on his development as a composer.
"I was set apart from the world, there was nobody in my vicinity to confuse and annoy me in my course, and so I had to become original."
The second theme emphasized in the book is the character of Haydn's music "fur Kenner und Liebhaber"-- for both connoisseurs and amateurs (pp 85 - 86). Haydn wrote music of extraordinary depth and sophistication, but he also wrote music readily accessible to a broad audience with little musical expertise. Some of his works show both characteristics. But even the popular pieces show an ability to delight within the restrictions Haydn was given. As Larsen states: "it is part of his greatness that he was able to display his extraordinary musicianship and inventiveness not only in outstanding masterworks but also in more domestic pieces like the baryton trios." (p 86). I was helped in my understanding of Haydn's piano music in particular by thinking of it in terms of "fur Kenner und Liebhaber."
This is an excellent book for listeners with a basic familiarity with Haydn who want to learn more about the composer and his music.