The relationship of Haydn and Mozart has been the subject of much comment, most of it because Minimizations have always considered Haydn to be a second-rate composer. But contemporary and near-contemporary documents and Mozart own compositions make it clear that Mozart treated the elder composer and his music with loving attention. Their close relationship both musically and personally makes the Mostly Mozart Festival’s: Haydn Week appropriate.
First, the personalities of Haydn and Mozart. The two composers under discussion here each created works that are a hybrid of other forms and sonata form. Haydn did not create sonata form, but he was a master of it. His grasp of form was excellent, and at the same time, he took a few liberties with his conception of it. Haydn was fond of the false recapitulation. A false recapitulation is a device that can be used near the end of the development section of a sonata form movement.
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Aside from a false recapitulation, Haydn was fond of surprising the listener with many unexpected turns and twists. Sudden key changes, unexpected shifts of rhythm or harmony, a phrase that leads into something totally different than what is expected. Mozart is a contradiction in that he was more conservative and followed the “rules” much more than Haydn, yet his music is incomparable. Haydn was very much given to surprising, and even shocking the listener, yet Mozart rarely did this. His music is more regular and well behaved.
Yet within the confines of the boundaries he seemingly imposed on himself, Mozart left us many Incomparable masterpieces. In opera Mozart was unsurpassed. Haydn openly admitted that Mozart operas were far greater than his own. The classical concerto being so close in style to the classical opera, composers who were successful in one were usually successful in the other. This goes a long way toward explaining why Mozart was a composer of such great concertos, while Heyday’s concertos, for the most part, are mediocre works like his operas.
In sacred music Mozart was far greater than Joseph Haydn. Haydn and Mozart are “regarded as the most accomplished among a large number of highly skilled musicians active In the second half of the eighteenth century” (Houdini). Both were born in Austria and are considered as friends, though, Haydn was the older of the two, and lived longer than Mozart who died at a young age of only 35. Mozart is revered by musicians the world over and his symphonies are believed to be master pieces.
Haydn, though believed to be a very good musician, remained in the shadows of Mozart all his life, and even today, his name Is taken as an afterthought, whereas Mozart Is known to all music Mozart spoke of Haydn, it was with reverence. His six great string quartets were dedicated as a set to the older composer, partly as acknowledgment of how much he had learned from Heyday’s own essays in the form. Heyday’s later quartets are said to have been influenced in turn by the quartets Mozart wrote under his influence.
After Mozart death, Haydn even seems to have experienced something akin to survivor’s guilt; he declined a request to write string quintets and refused permission for his early operas to be performed, on the grounds that Mozart work in these genres was supreme. So, considering their closeness in time and space, their friendship, and heir acknowledged mutual influence, it’s not surprising that their music, sounds similar. Nevertheless, on close listening, their individual voices, their personalities and temperaments, emerge as very different (Teraflop.
One difference derives from “hat might be considered social class. Haydn was a countryman, son of a Millwright, his family still part of the peasantry; whereas, Mozart was a townsman, his father was university-educated and the author of a best selling book on the art of playing violin. Haydn is not merely witty, he is funny, a prankster reveling in outright Jokes. Take this, perhaps the most famous Joke in all of music, from the second movement of his 94th symphony.
It’s almost slapstick: He lulls us into a trance; then, Nee we least expect it, he bashes us over the head. And here is a lesser-known example, a delightful quartet finale (Teraflop. In Conclusion, Although Mozart and Haydn will always be regarded as the most accomplished among a large number of highly skilled musicians during the Classical Period, they share many similarities and differences, such as social class and education, but they will always be remembered s great musicians and mentors to each other.