In Good Company! Café Ludwig Pays Homage to Haydn, Along with Mozart and Beethoven

Cafe LudwigFeel the presence of the masters as the 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.

cafe ludwig“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!” Enjoy coffee or tea and sample sweet treats, along with magical music, 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 CLICK HERE.

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.

Cafe LudwigWhile Mozart was never directly Haydn’s student, he learned from and was inspired by him, and frequently referred to him as his teacher. 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.” 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."

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 had knowledge of the other repertoire available. In this way, they always inspire an extra level of creativity for the composer. In this case, the quartet is full of sparkle, lightness, playfulness and joy of music."

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."