In his lifetime Joseph Haydn enjoyed huge popularity throughout Europe. As a composer of symphonies, quartets, masses, and oratorios he was readily acknowledged by Mozart, Beethoven, and others as a commanding figure. He is one of the founding fathers of classical music, yet only in the last 50 years have his works become available in reliable editions, and much biographical detail has come to light at the same time. Meanwhile, his music is more popular today than it has been at any time since his death.
Published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Haydn's death, this detailed, scholarly, and lively Companion draws together a wealth of biographical detail and expert analysis for the the first time in an accessible, engaging format. It covers Haydn's life and times, and his music, including its performance and reception.
The Companion focuses on the period of Haydn's life (1732-1809), but extends forward to the end of the 20th century, to cover Haydn's reputation in the 19th century, attempts at complete editions, and modern scholarship. Selected feature entries cover such topics as Haydn's life and personality, major genres in which he worked, performance practice, dissemination, and the Enlightenment. The A-Z text is complemented by a full list of Haydn's works, family trees, a map, and a list of first lines.
Everything you could ever want to know about the composer's lifetime and legacy. (Andrew Clark, Financial Times)
By dipping in and out you get up-to-the minute scholarship in bitesize form. (Andrew Clark, Financial Times)
David Wyn Jones, the editor of this outstanding 2002 reference work on Haydn, (1732 -- 1809), notes in his Preface that "Joseph Haydn was the last 'great' composer to be adequately served by scholarship." This book, part of the Oxford Composer Companion series, fulfills its promise of offering a comprensive guide to Haydn's life, music, and legacy based upon the most up-to-date modern scholarship. David Wyn Jones is senior lecturer in music at the University of Wales and the author of numerous books about Haydn and the Classical Era. The 900 plus entries in this volume were prepared by 41 contributors, each a Haydn scholar in their own right. This book is a treasure-trove of information about Haydn for the lover of his music.
I was drawn to this book to help me in my project, completed recently, of listening to CDs of each of Haydn's 104 numbered symphonies and preparing a survey of them in reviews on this site. Thus, the Oxford Companion includes a 34-page essay on Haydn's symphonies by Professor Simon McVeigh, Goldsmithe College, University of London. Professor McVeigh's article includes an introduction to symphonic form and traces its development from Haydn's earlist to his final works in nine carefully organized sections. Virtually every symphony is given some individual attention, as McVeigh examines the course of Haydn's symphonic writing throught the 36 years he employed it. I found this guide indespensable to my project of getting to understand Haydn's symphonies myself in some detail and preparing a survey of them to encourage others to hear them.
I supplemented the basic article on the symphony with many others from this volume, including, most basically, a long biography of the composer written by Wyn Jones. I found valuable the many articles about the intellectual climate of Haydn's day, particularly the articles on Enlightenment, Freemasonry, Sturm und Drang, and Josephism. There are articles on sonata form, the minuet, and variation which are critical to better enjoying the symphonies. The article on performance practices discusses issues in the performance of Haydn from his lifetime up to current debates. There is an excellent article treating "recordings" of Haydn's music and an essay titled "reception" by the dean of Haydn scholars, H.C. Robbins Landon on how Haydn's music has been received and assessed over the years. These are only some of the articles that were of interest to me as a heard and wrote about Haydn's symphonies.
This book gives a compelling picture of the breadth and depth of Haydn's output. It includes lengthy essays on every form in which Haydn worked including the string quartet, oratorio, piano sonata, trio, concerto opera, mass, song, baryton music and much more. Many works are discussed in individual entries. Haydn is a composer that one can stay with and love over a long period of time.
The book is over 500 pages in length and the entries are organized alphabetically. The book opens with a "thematic overview" which is an index to the entries arranged by subject matter. I found it easy to use, but those coming to the book will want to examine it to find the entries that interest them. Following the detailed entries, an appendix lists Haydn's works organized by type. This appendix impressed me as little else could with the vastness of Haydn's output. A second appendix covers individual numbers in Haydn's vocal works.
This book is essential for those wanting to do scholarly work on Haydn. But, perhaps more importantly, it will appeal to lovers of music who want to explore and enjoy the work of this great composer in depth.
The amount of information in this volume with anything even remotely connected with Haydn is phenomenal. Its alphebetical organization gave me trouble at first. I bought the book because of my recent rediscovery of Haydn's music. I knew little of his life. I turned to "H" and found a satisfying 17 page biographical sketch. Most of the questions I had about Haydn were answered in the alphabetical listing from Abingdon to Zwettl. I am enjoying browsing through the Haydn related alphabet.
The best reference source on Haydn2012/11/9
If you're curious about Haydn and have not read any books about him before, I suggest you start with David Wyn Jones's *other* Haydn book, The Life of Haydn -- a well-written, up-to-date biography. For the music, I suggest the Haydn chapters of Charles Rosen's remarkable book _The Classical Style_.
Then, if you want more, get this book. It seems to have everything, that is, biography (of Haydn and the people he knew), discussion of the music, and cultural background of Haydn's life and work. I read it cover to cover, and was repeatedly rewarded with interesting items that were new to me. The sections providing appreciations of the individual works are helpful and would be good for reading along as you listen to the music.
The book is well written. Much of it is by Jones himself, but there are contributions (it seems) from virtually all of the leading contermporary Haydn scholars. Strikingly, the prose style and tone of scholarship are rather uniform throughout the book; Jones as editor must have run a tight ship.
Comparing this book to earlier volumes I have read (for example, the biographies of Ferdinand Pohl, Karl Geiringer, and Mary Hughes), I find it to be lot more careful: it doesn't engage in psychological speculation about Haydn, and it doesn't rely very heavily on the three silly tale-spinners who wrote early unreliable biographies of Haydn (Dies, Carpani, and Framery). Another difference between this book and older biographies is that, in the past few decades, there has been a massive campaign of archival research on Haydn's life and work, whose results are effectively exploited here.
In sum, quite an accomplishment. There's no index, grr, which almost led me to leave off my fifth star.
Very effective presentation for a reference book2014/8/3
Alan S. Mathias
I was not expecting the format used. It was a pleasant surprise because this will be a more useful resource than other books on Haydn. The book contains hundreds of topics and shows how each relate to Haydn-perfect method. I'm hoping to find more on other composers but so far no luck.
Anthony P. Martin
Arranged alphabetically, the articles, mostly short, have all sorts of info that otherwise might be buried in specialized journal articles. Mahler wrote recits for Creation...who knew?