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In Good Company! Pacific Symphony’s Café Ludwig Pays Homage to the “Father of the String Quartet,” Haydn, Who’s Joined By Mozart and Beethoven for a Captivating Afternoon of Music
Orange County, Calif. — April 17, 2017
Feel the presence of the masters as Pacific Symphony’s final concert of the 2016-17 Café Ludwig series explores why the world owes a huge debt of gratitude to “Papa Haydn”—who was so instrumental in the development of chamber music he became known as the father of the string quartet. For most of his career, Haydn was not only considered the most celebrated composer in Europe, but he also guided and mentored two star pupils: Mozart and Beethoven. For “The Haydn Effect,” Café Ludwig serves up delicious music by these three composers including Haydn’s Clarinet Quartet No. 3 in B-flat Major, Mozart’s Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K. 493 and Beethoven’s Archduke Trio, B-flat Major, Op. 97. Joining acclaimed pianist and host Orli Shaham for a look at this unique triangle are Symphony musicians Joseph Morris, clarinet; Paul Manaster, violin; Meredith Crawford, viola; and Timothy Landauer, cello.
Enjoy coffee or tea and sample sweet treats, along with delightful tunes, in Café Ludwig’s coffeehouse-style setting on Sunday, May 7, at 3 p.m., in the Samueli Theater at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Tickets are $70 and $88; for more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.
“This is a program of meaty, deep, chamber-music making, and we will all enjoy every note we share,” says Shaham. “I’m looking forward to capping off another wonderfully satisfying season of Café Ludwig with these performances!”
The concert revolves around Haydn, whose position at the court of Esterhazy meant that he had many opportunities to write for varied chamber ensembles. These would include the court’s musicians but also travelers who happened to stay with them for a few weeks, such as a hotshot visiting clarinetist. Haydn did not normally have a clarinetist around, and so an opportunity to write for one was inspiring. He was always involved in writing for smaller groups, especially string quartets. Because of this, Haydn became accepted as the “father” of many forms of chamber music. The composer developed these smaller genres just as he did the larger symphony, setting the bar for other composers. He allowed the forms of individual movements to grow in these smaller ensembles just as he did in his symphonic output.
While Mozart was never directly Haydn’s student, he certainly learned from him and was inspired by him, and he frequently referred to Haydn as his teacher. For example, when Haydn came out with a set of string quartets, Mozart quickly did the same. “There was a hint of one-upmanship in the two gentlemen’s relationship,” notes Shaham, “but it was always respectful and full of admiration.” An example of the depth and complexity of their relationship is evident in Mozart’s dedication to Haydn of his set of six string quartets (referred to as his children), which were heavily influenced by his fellow composer. He wrote:
“To my dear friend Haydn: A father, having resolved to send his sons into the great world, finds it advisable to entrust them to the protection and guidance of a highly celebrated man, the more so since this man, by a stroke of luck, is his best friend. Here, then—celebrated man and my dearest friend—are my six sons. Truly, they are the fruit of a long and laborious effort, but the hope, strengthened by several of my friends, that this effort would, at least in some small measure, be rewarded, encourages and comforts me that one day, these children may be a source of consolation to me.”
Mozart continued: “You yourself, dearest friend, during your last sojourn in this capital, expressed to me your satisfaction with these works. This, your approval, encourages me more than anything else, and thus I entrust them to your care, and hope that they are not wholly unworthy of your favor. Do but receive them kindly, and be their father, guide and friend! From this moment on I cede to you all my rights over them: I pray you to be indulgent to their mistakes, which a father’s partial eye may have overlooked, and despite this, to cloak them in the mantle of your generosity which they value so highly. From the bottom of my heart I am, dearest friend, your most sincere friend—W.A. Mozart.”
As for the E-flat Piano Quartet, Mozart was creating a new genre of chamber music, which could not have existed earlier. It was only around this time, in the 1780s, that the pianoforte was becoming mechanically an instrument worthy of chamber performances. Mozart made much of his reputation by playing his own piano concertos as vehicles for himself, and the two quartets similarly highlight the piano.
“The concertos are very public pieces,” says Shaham, “but the quartets and other chamber works were considered, as they were in Haydn’s court life, bastions of the connoisseur. They were performed for those who were already music lovers and already had knowledge of the other repertoire available. In this way, they always inspire an extra level of creativity on the part of the composer. In this case, the quartet is full of sparkle and lightness, playfulness and joy of music. The piano is occasionally part of the group, but more often opposed to the strings in much the same way the orchestra and solo split in a concerto. The strings themselves take their style from something similar to Haydn’s way of using individual players—constantly alternating between three separate lines, two plus one, all together.”
The viola had a special place in Mozart’s heart, and frequently he would allow someone else the chance to play the piano part while he himself took the viola. “He always gives a special part somewhere in the piece to the viola,” comments Shaham. “Part of the legacy of this quartet and its companion in G minor is the way in which they in turn inspired the great piano quartets of the 19th century.”
Haydn was more directly Beethoven’s teacher than he was Mozart’s—teaching him composition when the young composer first came to Vienna. Beethoven was at first so intimidated by the need to fulfill his composition teacher’s expectations that he tried to pass off old works as new in order to impress Haydn. When Haydn found out, it set off a lifelong series of disagreements between the volatile Beethoven and his teacher.
“But the respect was deep and continued throughout their lives,” says Shaham. “Beethoven learned about the importance of chamber music from Haydn. He learned from Haydn to treat chamber music as smaller versions of symphonic works.”
As for the final piece on the program, the Archduke Trio is built like a symphony of its time, with four movements including a big finale. It also includes a Scherzo as well as humor in its finale. Shaham says: “Jocularity and humor were Haydn’s greatest strength, and though Beethoven’s sense of humor differed from Haydn’s, he certainly learned to use it in music, thanks to his teacher. In this trio, Beethoven treats the right and left hands of the piano at times like two instruments, allowing him to play with configurations of four independent players much as Mozart does in his piano quartet and Haydn does in his clarinet quartet.”
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