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Early Music New York - Frederick Renz, Director

“a revered institution” — The New York Times

2017 - 2018 ~ NYC Subscription Concerts ~ 43rd Season

Notes - February 7, 2018

Early Notation

Q: What do you get when you cross a hurdy gurdy with an organ?

A: An unlikely series of Haydn masterpieces.

Haydn was no stranger to obscure musical instruments, having composed many works for his patron, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy I, to play on the baryton, which had two sets of strings – one for bowing, the other for plucking.

Ferdinand IV, King of Naples
Ferdinand IV

Starting in 1786, Ferdinand IV, King of Naples, commissioned a series of works for his favorite obscure instrument, the lira organizzata – essentially a hurdy gurdy outfitted with organ pipes – which may have been conceived with the saying “Idle hands are the devil's playthings” in mind: one hand turned a crank, the other played a keyboard.

Technical limitations meant the instrument could only play music written in the keys of C, F or G. Despite this restriction, Haydn – at the height of his creative powers – composed some of his best music for a series of concerti (with orchestra) and notturni (with chamber ensemble) for two lire for the King to perform with his teacher.

Lira organizzata
Lira organizzata

The notturni (nocturnes, or night music) contain “an almost unbelievable variety…” according to Haydn scholar H.C. Robbins Landon, “from meltingly beautiful slow introductions…to racy final rondos.”

Knowing a good thing when he wrote one, Haydn retained copies of the concerti and notturni. When he needed extra music for his first London sojourn in 1791, he re-orchestrated them, assigning the lire parts to flute and oboe, or two flutes; it is these versions that generally are performed today.

“Since God has given me a cheerful heart, He will forgive me for serving Him cheerfully.”
Joseph Haydn

Venue -

First Church of Christ, Scientist
Central Park West at
68th Street
First Church interior
Near Lincoln Center, the First Church of Christ, Scientist faces Central Park at 68th St. and is reached via the M72, M10 and Columbus Ave. M7 & M11 bus lines; subways C to 72nd at Central Park West (70th St. exit) & #1 to 66th at Broadway. Parking garages are available along W. 68th and W. 66th Streets. For information regarding disability access call 212-280-0330.
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th Street in Lincoln Square, click  here.

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Genial Kapellmeister
Saturday, March 3rd at 7:30 pm
First Church of Christ,  Scientist
Central Park West at 68th Street

Maestro Renz
Maestro Renz
devotes an entire evening to a single composer: the beloved and endlessly inventive “Papa” Haydn. With his unique combination of genius and geniality, Haydn developed some of the freshest, most original classical symphonies of his time, from the stormy to the sublime, while in service at the remote Esterházy estate in Hungary.

(subject to change)

JOSEPH HAYDN (1732-1809)

Symphony No. 34 in d minor (H.I:34), ca. 1766
Notturno No. 27 in G (H.II:27), 1788-90, rev. 1792
L’isola disabitata: Overture (H.Ia:13), 1779
Symphony No. 63 in C, “Roxelane”
(H.I:63, version 2), 1779

Venice to Vienna
Saturday, May 5th at 7:30 pm
First Church of Christ,  Scientist
Central Park West at 68th Street

The Concert by Lionello Spada  c. 1615
The ‘new’ Italian style of Claudio Monteverdi and his contemporaries, blossoming at the turn of the 17th century, quickly made its way across the Alps, as Italians were engaged by Austrian and German courts. In addition to Monteverdi, composers will include Heinrich Ignaz von Biber, whose Battalia has been an audience favorite for almost 350 years, and Carlo Farina, whose Capriccio stravagante feat
ures a veritable carnival of the animals.

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