Haydn’s Innovation

Discuss the rules of notation, standard notation practices, efficient notation practices and graphic design.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by John Ruggero » 17 Feb 2016, 20:00

DatOrganistTho,

I think that the best way to address your questions is with the following statement. I hope it covers everything.

I am an idealist (in the philosophical sense) and think that great pieces of music like this Haydn sonata are ideal objects that exist outside of time and space, so that elements like cultural norms and changes of taste are not really relevant to them. For example, I don't think that the use of an instrument of Haydn's time, or observance of what XYZ said in their book on Classical performance practice is necessary to produce an authentic performance of this sonata.

There are many ways to play these pieces in an authentic way, and they are all approximations to various decimal places. No one performance will ever achieve perfection, but the quest for greater and greater insight is why musicians get up in the morning. What all of these authentic approximations have in common is at least some intuitive understanding of the inner connections and relationships that hold the piece together and allow it to communicate as if it were speaking in a language that we understand. But these authentic approximations might be very different in outward appearance; they might vary in tempo, in dynamic level, in the performer's personal playing style etc. yet be equally "authentic" because they are conveying the same information but in different ways. For me, that is a good thing; and something that many composers desire. They enjoy the different slants that performers bring to their music and performers have nothing to fear from them as long as they present the inner meaning of what the are playing.

Performances like this demonstrate that the details are contained in the whole, so the best way to play this music in an authentic way lies not through details but in understanding the whole. As I mentioned in another post, Schenker felt that interpretive markings could be omitted from such music and divined from the notes only. It is similar with other external details, like the rolled chord under discussion and other symbolized ornaments. It is true of the unmarked details, like phrasing and tempo. And it is also true of the emotional and spiritual meaning of the music. This is because the notes are not merely straight-forward directions for putting fingers and keys down for allotted lengths, but a complex multi-level language that is an outgrowth of our complex, multi-level brain. The real details lie below the surface and are staggering in their complexity; they are far too difficult for our conscious mind and only our intuition is capable of dealing with them.

I can also imagine music in which the meaning resides more in the surface detail than in the whole or equally in both. The notation for this kind of music would be more like what you prefer. However, I can only imagine a performance by electronic means of such music that is exactly the way the composer imagined it; even if every note had its own articulation and exact dynamic level and length specified, human beings would play the piece in many different ways.
Last edited by John Ruggero on 18 Feb 2016, 00:30, edited 3 times in total.
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David Ward
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Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by David Ward » 17 Feb 2016, 20:38

FWIW, performers have sometimes been surprised at how relaxed and non-prescriptive I often am in rehearsals of my own music (assuming the performers are fully competent technically and have a good understanding of the music): “Not like other composers,” I've been told more than once.

In two weeks time a string quartet of mine which had its first performance 21 years ago is to be played by the ensemble that gave its premiere. The programme also includes Beethoven's opus 74. When I attend rehearsal, I may well have more to say about the Beethoven than about my own piece.

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Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by John Ruggero » 18 Feb 2016, 00:26

David, thank you so much for sharing that. I have been involved in premieres with composers like yourself with whom it was a pleasure to work; but also with up-tight composers (often in their formative years) who have made everyone's life miserable with their constant carping. This is definitely not the way to a performer's heart or a great performance. Wasn’t there a well-known conductor who banned composers from rehearsals?

A better method of dealing with players is this one describing Beethoven's conducting from Bruno Nettl's' "Beethoven Encyclopedia", page 29. His rehearsal technique sounds like that of a conductor who knows exactly how to get the best out of players in a short time:

"Ries tells that Beethoven was often very lenient during rehearsals and skipped necessary repeating, "It'll be all right next time, "…In contrast to that, he could sometimes be quite meticulous concerning expression, details of shading, tempo rubato...and discussed questionable parts with the players. If he felt that the players followed his ideas with enthusiasm, his smiling face reflected satisfaction and he uttered a thunderous bravo."

In the following eye-witness description by Ignaz von Seyfried, Beethoven sounds like L. Bernstein:

"To indicate a diminuendo, he shrank and when the pianissimo came, he was almost invisible. To indicate a crescendo, he rose up from his desk. At the fortissimo he seemed like a giant, rowing with his two hands, trying to reach the sky. All parts of his body were moving; the whole man appeared like a perpetuum mobile."
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DatOrganistTho
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Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by DatOrganistTho » 18 Feb 2016, 00:38

OCTO wrote:As a someone who composes with pen & paper, I would say that this is an "innovation" but not dramatic.
1. Fermatas = I see it as the composer's enjoyment in writing them wide (not intentionally to mean "wide"). Just the pen feels good and scratch well on the paper.
2. Measure 12 = I see it as a normal chord, yet Haydn wants to have it "arpeggiated".

If we could go back in to the history and say "Haydn, you will die or notate it properly" - maybe he would not write it as it is.
I agree! Suitable interpretation of what is written! ;)
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Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by harpsi » 18 Feb 2016, 11:56

The notation of the arpeggiated chord resembles 17th century french non-mesure prelude notation in harpsichord music.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by John Ruggero » 18 Feb 2016, 13:17

OCTO. wrote:
1. Fermatas = I see it as the composer's enjoyment in writing them wide (not intentionally to mean "wide"). Just the pen feels good and scratch well on the paper.
I should also point out that the editor of the Wiener Urtext did not consider the extended slur of the fermata to be exuberance or a slip of the pen, but engraved it as it stands: a real slur over the two measures.

I wish that the readers could see the entire MS to see how aberrant this fermata looks. Haydn appears to love to scratch short slurs and the rare long ones are laborious. The MS now resides in the Library of Congress, but I cannot find a URL for it.

Harpsi, that was my first thought as well, except that I have never seen unstemmed half-notes used in that notation or the notes clustered together quite like this.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unmeasured_prelude

http://burrito.whatbox.ca:15263/imglnks ... _1677_.pdf

It is concievable that Haydn had seen the old notation, but seems just as likely that he innovated on the spot. It is interesting though that the first two movements of this sonata contain many "French" dotted pairs. Those in the second movement are double-dotted! And there is another Haydn keyboard sonata movement that sounds absolutely neo-Baroque. Maybe he had some Baroque leanings?

http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnk ... -largo.pdf
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