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String Quartet in B Minor Hob.III:37 : 1. Allegro moderato
Franz Joseph Haydn Lyrics

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Most interesting comments from YouTube:

Elaine Blackhurst

Thanks for that; I think we have got there in the end.

I think we both agree that Opus 20 has to be excluded from Michael Peterson’s ‘...a substantial improvement from previous works’.

Besides Mozart’s interest, Beethoven also studied Opus 20 intensively and copied out the whole of the E flat quartet Opus 20 No 1 in 1794 for study purposes for pretty obvious reasons.

Charles Rosen’s comments in The Classic Style describe these works as essentially beyond the capability of any contemporary composer.

Both Opus 20 and Opus 33 are of equal, crucial importance in the history of the quartet, and as you correctly state, given that Opus 33 (1781) followed on almost ten years after Opus 20 (1772) and were written ‘ a completely new and special way’ (Haydn), they do contain the new features you correctly identified.

Elaine Blackhurst

Fernando Be
We seem to be at cross-purposes; I simply challenged the original comment from Michael Pearson that Opus 33 is a ‘substantial improvement from previous works’, for me this description does not fit for Opus 20 - which I think is equal, but different.

I did not use the word mediocre.

Do we have a misunderstanding here?
I clearly wrote that Mozart’s Haydn quartets were a response to Opus 33; I simply pointed out some examples of Mozart being familiar with Haydn’s earlier works.

Scholars have long argued whether or not Opus 20 or Opus 33 are Haydn’s first truly great set of quartets; you can find as many great musicologists who have argued for one as for the other.

I don’t actually disagree with anything you have written other than the original comment that ‘ is Mozart’s opinion as well’ that Opus 33 ‘is a substantial improvement...’.

Elaine Blackhurst

@Le Rippletoe
You are quite correct, and it is one of the things that has been traditionally used to criticise Haydn.

However, all the criticisms have come from Beethoven sources, many of them now discredited, and many of them not contemporaneous accounts.

Almost all the criticism of Haydn stems from three things:

(i) the non-correction of many of Beethoven’s counterpoint exercises;

(ii) Beethoven’s allegation that he ‘...learnt nothing from Haydn’;

(iii) Beethoven’s refusal to add ‘Pupil of Haydn’ to the dedication to the Opus 2 piano sonatas which he dedicated to Haydn.

Beethoven spent much time with Haydn between the two London visits when the lessons took place; he spent some considerable time as an Eszterhazy family house guest at Eisenstadt - as a performer - in the Summer and Autumn of 1793 whilst he took the counterpoint lessons from Haydn.
We absolutely do not know what they talked about, but almost everything is based on the lack of correction in hundreds of exercises.

It is inconceivable that Haydn and Beethoven did not discuss music in depth, and not just the counterpoint lessons, and Beethoven would have been fascinated by Haydn’s busy compositional schedule - he would have learnt much outside the formal lessons.

In Haydn’s defence, two points should be made.

Firstly that he was extremely busy with preparing works for the forthcoming second visit to London, working in particular on Symphonies 99, 100, and 101, along with the set of six string quartets Opus 71/74.
It is hardly surprising that he was struggling to find time to mark Beethoven’s counterpoint exercises, counterpoint being something he had mastered himself over thirty years earlier.

Secondly, like any teacher today, if the exercises covered common material or subject matter, the teacher would correct and explain the errors in one exercise, but not repeat the same explanation - and corrections - in every other exercise, as the point had been taught.

Finally of course, Albrechtsberger was a professional teacher, and as such, Haydn himself considered him the finest in Vienna.
It was Haydn who recommended to Beethoven that Albrechtsberger should take over the lessons when he set off again for England, but Albrechtsberger - just like Haydn - found the pupil wilful and difficult.

Hope that helps.

Elaine Blackhurst

Arya Vaseghi
Beethoven learnt a huge amount from Haydn who certainly had much to teach him.

There is no evidence that Haydn had any problems with Beethoven’s new works, apart from the misunderstandings that arose over the c minor piano trio Opus 1 No 3.

The sources of this story about the c minor trio have been largely discredited as the claims that Haydn said it should not be published cannot be true; when Haydn first heard the work immediately after his return from the second London trip, and made the alleged comment in August 1795, the trio had already been published in Vienna!

The formal lessons which went less well were entirely based on Fuxian counterpoint.
When Haydn departed for his second London trip, Albrechtsberger took on the job, continued to use Fux, and found Beethoven equally difficult.

Elaine Blackhurst

Ben Ehrmantraut
It’s not so much to do with dialogue as with motivic and thematic development - everything is rigorously worked out.

Opus 20 was composed in 1772;
Opus 33 in 1781.

Like Mozart, the thing that separates these two composers from all their contemporaries is the fact of their continuous development and growth which is often spectacular, year on year.

The two sets of quartets were written nine years apart, Opus 20 are products of ‘sturm und drang’; by 1781, Haydn was in a new world.

I can hear almost nothing of Vivaldi in any of these works, though generally speaking, there is more than a whiff of Italy in Haydn, Mozart, and most of their contemporaries.

All comments from YouTube:

Richard Atkinson

Gottfried von der Goltz (the first violinist in this recording) has to be the greatest gut-string violinist of all time. I first heard these recordings of Op. 33 almost 20 years ago, and they are still the best quartet performances/recordings of any Haydn or Mozart quartets that I know of. I wish they had recorded some complete cycles instead of just Op. 33.

Jorge Guimarães

uuuh nice unexpected richard atkinson cameo


Wonderful work. I love the way Haydn starts the quartet as if it were beginning in D Major but slyly slips into b minor very soon.

Elaine Blackhurst

Tonal ambiguity and instability - and off-tonic - are all later Haydnesque characteristics which also became Beethovenian ones in the following generation.

Garrett Rowland

Interesting choice to begin the first movement with D Major chord, obscuring the true key for several measures.

Haydn would do it again in his Op.64, No.2 Quartet:
Brahms would do the same thing in his Op.115 Clarinet Quintet:

The chromaticism at 12:42 is really cool. Shostakovich-esque.

Elaine Blackhurst

Garrett Rowland
The opening is indeed ambiguous and very clever; the D major always feels tonally unstable - mainly because of the lack of a D root to the chord - which of course it is, as Haydn is actually teasing whilst preparing the ear for b minor.

Jules G

The Finale is a pure beauty

Peter Crosland

superb, Haydn + youth = magic


This is one of my favorites.

Sara Belfiore

Actually Haydn put a Scherzo as second movement, not a Minuetto. It is a small but significant revolution

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