Haydn in the corridors this week

This week we will be listening to the work of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). He was an Austrian composer of the Classical period who spent a significant part of his working life in London where the ‘London Symphonies’ were composed. He was instrumental in the development of chamber music such as the piano trio and his contributions to musical form have earned him the epithets “Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet”. His work was central to the development of what came to be called sonata form and many examples of this are on our playlist this week. His practice, however, differed in some ways from that of Mozart and Beethoven, his younger contemporaries who likewise excelled in this form of composition.

A central characteristic of Haydn’s music is the development of larger structures out of very short, simple musical motifs somewhat similar to a riff in modern rock music. The music is often quite concentrated, and the important musical events of a movement can unfold rather quickly. The assembly piece – Serenade for Strings Op.3 No.5 is an excellent example of this. It is a piece you will almost certainly recognise.