Divertimento in G major, Hob.II:1 – Joseph Haydn



               Michael Sowa


after looking everywhere on the Internet 
for how many divertimenti Haydn had 
written – since I’d given up counting them 
individually from the only list I could find
there, confounding one – I asked Siri
the 21st Century’s Delphic Oracle, whom 
I’d never yet consulted, apart from once 
during a friendly demonstration of her 

her reply about “divinity minty”, however, 
didn’t lead me anywhere, though 
“divertimento” eventually got me, 
however unsatisfactory, somewhat more 
pertinent answers

regardless, here is Haydn’s very first  

a divertimento is quite simply an 
entertainment, an after dinner mint for
the aristocratic set, a place to digest 
one’s fine culinary offerings in the 
same, usually stratified, company

nowadays we have supper clubs

when Haydn called his early string 
quartets “divertimenti a quatro”, he
wasn’t kidding, a divertimento could 
be comprised of indeed even a small 
orchestra, or, quite simply, one only
performer, the string quartet as a 
form hadn’t yet been established as 
such, Haydn pulled it, as it were, out 
from under his hat, and gave it status

here’s the short, terse, Divertimento 
in G major, for instance, for, originally, 
harpsichord only, which is to say, just 
one person, but this homemade piano
version will point out already Haydn’s 
musical brilliance – you’ll love the 
giraffe, I loved the coffee cup at the 
bottom of the keyboard

incidentally, Haydn could’ve called 
his Divertimento a piano sonata, 
like Hoboken did, his bibliographer, 
eventually, for the list he compiled 
of the works of Haydn, we know it 
now, therefore, as well, as Haydn’s
First Piano Sonata in G major, 
Hob. XVl:8, same number as for  
the corresponding Divertimento

new terms were popping up, and 
being tested, then just as now, 
like our app, interface, Siriand 
who says compact disc anymore, 
or record

tempus, as we say in Latin, fugit,
time ever is on the wing

R ! chard