Haydn's best piano work

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Haydn's best piano work

Postby markfresa » Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:43 pm

Can someone suggest a few Haydn pieces that best represent his work, please?
He produced so much, but it all sounds the same to me.(similar rhythms, etc.)
Is there anything that really stands out from the body of his work?

Thanks in advance.

"When you play the piano, you are playing the audiences' lives" - Van Cliburn

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Re: Haydn's best piano work

Postby techneut » Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:44 pm

markfresa wrote:He produced so much, but it all sounds the same to me.(similar rhythms, etc.)

I'm not a Haydn expert but this statement sounds worrying to me. Haydn is known as an immensely resourceful and humorous composer.
I believe his sonatas and variations display much variety and wacky invention - obviously within the boundaries of traditional 18th
century musical form. If you perceive his music as sounding 'all the same', I wonder if your ears are yet attuned to this music, and if you
would not be better off, for now at least, trying some (early) romantic music. I know it took me a long time to appreciate music
from the classical and baroque composers.
Nothing is always absolutely so -- Sturgeon's law
Chris Breemer

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Re: Haydn's best piano work

Postby hanysz » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:34 am

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Re: Haydn's best piano work

Postby markfresa » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:23 am

Yes, Chris, you are hitting the heart of the problem. There is so much music that I haven't heard, and what I did hear of Haydn didn't impress me for one reason of the other (my mind may not have been ready for it).
I will look for the Variations mentioned here and give it another shot.

"When you play the piano, you are playing the audiences' lives" - Van Cliburn

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Re: Haydn's best piano work

Postby dctpianist » Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:04 am

Hi Mark,

As someone who was very recently not interested in Haydn (or most music from the Classical period, for that matter), I feel compelled to give you my take on his music. About 2 years ago I was encouraged to play a Haydn sonata movement, and ever since his music has grown tremendously on me. I believe that your reaction might be fairly typical for someone who hasn't looked at his music in depth. What you said about all of his music sounding similar can be somewhat true, but only on a surface level where you haven't even scuffed the floor! Here's probably why all of his music sounds similar to you:

If you're looking at his music from a theory perspective, almost all pieces written in the Classical period follow the basic harmonic formula of I-V-I. There was almost none of what we today would consider creative handling of dissonance. At this point, music was moving away from the more "complex" multiple voices (polyphony) that's characteristic of music from the Baroque period and towards a clean melodic line accompanied by subordinate harmonies. The sparseness of Classical period harmonies and a more orderly form may be what's causing you to label everything as similar.

BUT!!! There is plenty of room for beauty, brilliance, wit, and music to emerge in Haydn's works (even though he doesn't pull a Prokofiev and conclude sonata movements with unresolved leading tones :wink: ). In the Haydn sonata I'm working on right now (XVI: 30, A-major), the opening is much like a court dance, followed by a fanfare of horns heralding a hunt, followed by the stacatto plucking of mandolins, followed by another fanfare of horns and an adagio for the crowning of a prince. I find that most music tells wonderful stories like this, and Haydn's is no exception (or maybe I'm just crazy and imagining all these stories, but it sure is fun for me!). Here are some of my favorite Haydn piano works:

Piano Sonata in F-major, Hob. XVI 23, Adagio- Easily my favorite piece of music by Haydn.
Piano Sonata in A-major, Hob. XVI 30- What I'm working on right now.
Piano Sonata in c#-minor, Hob. XVI 36

Don't give up on Haydn so easily. Dig deeper. And enjoy it for the brilliant music that it is!

Sorry for the rant,

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