- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Eerdmans (January 30, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780802868527
- ISBN-13: 978-0802868527
- ASIN: 0802868525
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #403,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Playing Before the Lord: The Life and Work of Joseph Haydn Paperback – January 30, 2014
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"A very engaging read. . . . Highly recommended!"
-- University of Minnesota
"Calvin Stapert here provides an encounter with Joseph Haydn's life and work that is at once broad in its cultural outlook, confident in its musical explorations, and intimate in its portrayal of the composer's human experience. The music scholar will find an array of Haydn's works, both canonical and farther from the beaten path, revisited with thoughtfulness and keen musical insight. The more casual reader is guided with the gentlest hand toward a rich understanding of what made Haydn's compositional voice so uniquely significant to his era. And Stapert's own voice -- that of a consummate storyteller -- carries the tale of Haydn's remarkable life swiftly along."
-- founding artistic director of Soli Deo Gloria
"A wonderful and loving work on a great but often sidelined composer. Stapert captures Haydn's marvelous effervescence as he distills volumes of musicological detail into a manageable and enjoyable read. If one wants to explore the vast variety of opinions on Haydn written over the last two centuries, go no further. Ultimately, Stapert makes a strong case that Haydn belongs in the highest echelons of composers."
-- Smithsonian Institution
"This excellent study gives a detailed yet eminently readable survey of Haydn's life and brilliant output. . . . Stapert's analyses of important works can be appreciated by readers armed with either scores or recordings, and his glossary entries clearly explain the four dozen or so technical terms he cannot avoid employing. Playing Before the Lord makes a cogent case that, as Stapert so pithily puts it, 'listening to Haydn's music gives us cause to rejoice because it is a revelation of grace, a case in point of the way things really are.'"
Choice (American Library Association)
"This is a nice introduction to the career and music of Joseph Haydn. . . . One extremely positive feature of the book is the author's ability to explain in a clear fashion the complexities of musical forms. . . . Recommended."
Catholic Library World
"This most enjoyable work attests to Haydn's religious devotion and expresses a love for the life of music as a testament to the most spiritual of all arts — playing before the Lord in authentic love."
"The narrative and the analyses are well written. . . . In short, we get a full-orbed sense of Haydn's life and music."
The American Organist
"An excellent and accessible account of an important and noble musical life whose brilliant output had immeasurable influence on the musicians and the music that followed. . . . A most interesting, informative and rewarding read to the learned musician and aficionado alike."
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Calvin Stapert has managed to present authoritative and up-to-date information in a form which is accessible to the intelligent layman who has at least a nominal amount of knowledge about music. He does far better than most at presenting things chronologically, without wandering out on a tangent across the decades as so many do. Thus, if you are wanting to maintain the thread of the story, it doesn't require a handful of bookmarks to be able to go back and catch up!
A nice feature is a 'listener's guide' for the 'Stabat Mater'. It walks you through the listening process with the poem on the left side of the page, and the musical information (the key, tempo and instruments) alongside to the right. I realize the work that went into just this one section, but a few more of these, for example, an expansion of 'The Creation' walk-through in the Appendix, would have been most welcome.
Stapert's avowed intention of spreading the word about this great music is well adhered to. If you are looking for an entry level biography into the life and music of Joseph Haydn, this is the best choice I have seen in a long time. The price is unbeatable for the value, and if you gain greater appreciation of the music of this greatest of composers in the Classical Era, you will have also gained much on the road towards your personal music horizon.
These insights are clearly audible and delightful to any attentive listener. They come framed by accurate biography that digests for us the best Haydn scholarship. Stapert writes with an unpretentious grace befitting the music he celebrates. His is the most enjoyable book on music, written for nonexpert readers, that I have found in many years.
Franz Joseph Haydn was baptized on April 1, 1732, perhaps born on March 31, in a village near the Austrian-Hungerian border. At age six, he was sent to live with the Franck family nearby, where he would begin school. He was instructed in "reading, writing, catechism, singing, and almost all wind and string instruments, even in timpani." Haydn said. He obviously had talent in music and soon (1740s) was sent to Vienna to be a choir boy.
Using dates and decades as subheads, Stapert follows Haydn from choir boy to freelance musician; music director in the 1750s; Vice-Kapellmeister and then Kapellmeister at the Esterhazy Court in the town of Eisenstadt, Austria in 1761. Stapert analyzes how Haydn puts together the musical notes and phrases; how he plans for each instrument to join in at the appropriate moment, adding "solos integral to the whole." He describes Haydn as a composer "with an unerring sense of musical form and an uncommon ability to recognize the developmental potential in simple musical materials." And with diagrams and examples of notes on scales, Stapert shows the reader how Haydn did it.
Haydn is especially famous for his oratorio called The Creation and Stapert has added an Appendix to his book describing it. Haydn's work included concertos, keyboard sonatas and trios, masses, operas, songs, string quartets, opuses, symphonies, and more
Stapert loves Haydn and his "huge and diverse output" of music, and Stapert's book is biography, as well as a listener's guide. Haydn stayed with the Esterhazy Court for much of his adult life with trips back and forth to Paris, London, and Vienna, where he also composed, performed, and saw publishers and friends. He counted Mozart and Beethoven among his friends, lucky three!
Haydn saw his musical talent as a gift from God, and Stapert says that Haydn "often penned at the end of his scores: Laus Deo! -- Praise to God!" Besides The Creation, Haydn is famous for Stabat Mater, in honor of the Virgin Mary, still popular in music of the church year; and his symphonies called The Seasons, and Surprise. He is also known as composer of the tune for John Newton's hymn, "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" (1779). Stapert would like to see Haydn's work become popular again and it may happen. Stapert's book is an excellent way to learn more about Haydn and his music. May it encourage musicians and other readers to "play it again....."