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No op.33 Haydn, no Beethoven

Friday, 27 Jan 2017

Haydn on Dr John Dunn. First posted Thursday, 4 February 2016 at 20:48

I’m enjoying the Haydn op. 33 quartets currently. The Quatuor Mosaïques, playing on historical musical instruments.

In a letter to Artaria, Haydn boasted about his op. 33 string quartets by saying, they are ‘a new and entirely special kind’. Goethe had already described the interplay of instruments in Haydn’s op. 20 quartets as 'four rational people conversing'. This equal exchange of musical ideas is even more apparent I think in the op.33.

Even without knowing about Haydn’s boast,the point he makes about a revolution in music becomes clear from simply listening - and I mean listening, rather than being tempted to treat this as light background music. A certain coherence is heard more and more in the later string quartets, sonatas, symphonies, and concerti of Joseph Haydn, and those of Mozart, especially in comparison with the Scarlatti, Handel, Bach, and Bach's famous sons. This greater coherence in Haydn begins with these op. 33 quartets. The impact of Haydn’s revolution in music massively influenced Mozart. And put simply, no op.33 Haydn, no Beethoven.

© John Dunn.

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