Classical Period Essay
Haydn’s Violin Concerto in C (Hob. VIIa/I) was composed sometime around the year 1765, during his fourth year of employment by the Eszterhazy family as assistant to kappelmeister Gregor Werner. Aged thirty-two at the time, he was just then entering into the period during which he would produce his most mature works. Like many concerti of the time – including Haydn’s Cello Concerto, which had immediately preceeded the present work – the Violin Concerto in C was composed to showcase the talents of a specific performer, in this case, Alois Tomosini, who ultimately became concertmaster of the Eszterhazy Orchestra.
Like the Cello Concerto, this piece is in three movements: Allegro Moderato, followed by a slower Adagio movement in the subdominant key of F, and finishing with a brilliant, energetic Finale: Presto. Structurally, all three movements follow the sonata allegro form. This form, so common in during the Classical Period that it came to be known as “First Movement Form” begins in with a primary theme in the tonic key, followed by a secondary theme in the dominant key (or, in the case of minor tonality, the relative major).
This makes up the “exposition. ” During the “development” section, the composer uses thematic materials from the exposition in a series of variations and mutations. The “recapitulation” restates both initial themes in the tonic key. During the Classical Period, the second movement of any multi-movement work was invariably a slower moving piece in the subdominant key. In the work under discussion, Haydn does not depart from this formula, nor in the last Presto movement in which Classical composers always returned to the original key.
It is worth noting that orchestral ensemble works, particularly those of Haydn and Mozart, contained a Minuetto movement inserted between the slower second movement and the faster fourth movement; however, in concerti, which featured a solo player, the Minuetto was never included. It is interesting to note that the Presto movement is in a triple meter, and has the feel, if not the strict form, of a Minuetto. In the performance used for this paper, this movement is played much faster than a typical Minuetto, but a dance-like atmosphere is retained.
As this is a fairly early work, it should not surprise us that that Haydn relies a great deal on scale runs and patterns, particularly during transitional sections. In fact, the initial introductory material consists of nothing more than an ascending F major scale, elaborated upon by the accompaniment. This is not as apparent in later, more mature works by this composer, although scale-based material of this nature is prominent in some of Mozart’s youthful works, particularly the first movement of Symphony No. 29 in A Major.
There are also several instances in all three movements in which the thematic material goes back and forth between major and parallel (rather than relative) minor tonalities. For modulations, Haydn makes frequent use of “common-tone diminished” chords, which makes it quite simple to go from one key to any other key. Nonetheless, Haydn rarely strays far from the initial key of a given movement. However, unlike many of Haydn’s later works, diminished seventh harmonic structures are not prominently featured, serving brief functional purposes only.
The third, Finale Presto movement has the most interest, despite the frequent use of double stops in the first and the lyrical quality of the second. The fiery leaps and fast runs are obviously intended to display Tomosini’s virtuosity. In addition, there is some interesting rhythmic movement between 3:07 and 3:09 of this recording in which the music nearly changes into duple meter, giving a sensation of hemiola. Much of Haydn’s influences are apparent in the early music of Mozart as well as that of Joseph Bulogne, an French composer of Afro-Caribbean ancestry who commissioned Haydn’s later “Paris Symphonies.
” Haydn enjoyed a long, productive life that spanned nearly the entire stylistic period that came to be known as “Classical. ” At the time Haydn began his compositional career, the Baroque style typified by the works J. S. Bach, G. F. Handel had become dated. The “Classical” style of which C. P. E. Bach, son of J. S. , was a founder, was still fairly new. The use of the harpsichord continuo – despite the availability of the newly-invented pianoforte – is a noteworthy holdover from the tradition of the baroque concerti grosso.
Nonetheless, in its use of scale patterns, parallel minor and the common-tone diminished modulations, this early Haydn work shows a mastery over the basic compositional elements that he would use in many future works.
Haydn, Franz Josef. Violin Concerto In C Major (Sound Recording). Orchestra Sinfonica Haydn di Bolzano e Trento. Barry Faldner, Conductor. Benjamin Schmid, soloist. (Stradivari Classics, June 1994).
Subject: Cretaceous Period,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 20 March 2017