String Quartet opus 74, no 1, in C major – Joseph Haydn


         Minuet in Villa (c.1791)  

                Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo


                                          for my father

the Opus 74, along with the Opus 71, were
written as a unit, to deliver to the English 
public for presentation, if the opus numbers 
differ, it’s probably to do with publication 
dates, the 74‘s being later than the earlier
but they fit the bill together, batches of six
string quartets for Haydn’s opuses up until
now being the standard, each opus here 
comprising only half the normal number, 
just three

Haydn’s sponsor, Prince Nicholas Esterházy
had died, leaving his son, Anton, to preside, 
but being tone deaf, the descendant fired 
the orchestra, however until then illustrious 
the fact that these works were no longer,
therefore, court pieces but intended for 
larger, paying, audiences, changed the 
dynamics, Haydn is not only peripheral 
music at an aristocratic court any longer
he’s the host, and you can hear it

fermatas, where the note, or the pause, 
are accentuated, deliver drama, so does 
volume, and sudden tempo changes

therefore the Romantic Period

but, interestingly, the Classical 
foundation remains, the established 
structure – a musical statement, an 
elaboration, a second musical, 
related, statement, in usually a 
complementary key, it’s own 
elaboration, then a recapitulation 
of either, or both

the minuet, incidentally, stalwart
still, holding on to the very end of 
the 18th Century, still applies, 
sure enough, though residual 
sign of the earlier Classical 
supremacy, even as that era was 
inexorably disintegrating

music is an entertainment, it 
inspires, however so incidentally
though it ever, perhaps even 
intentionally, makes you often, 
indeed, cry, it’s needed, even in 
the direst circumstances, for 
courage, however ironically, 
however contrapuntally, in any 
particular moment, it might even 
seem cynical so to arouse spirit, 
inspiration, I mean the French had 
just turned the world upside down, 
and here was sparkling creativity

Haydn was doing his stuff, keeping 
us musically integrated, speaking 
music instead of politics, turning 
bad situation into pearls, keeping 
the world going, the very stuff of 

R ! chard