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Naxos temple gate

Arianna a Naxos, Hob. XXVIb:2
MLM 489. London, Printed for the author [1791], signed by the composer

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Arianna a Naxos was first published by Artaria in Vienna in 1790, followed by this London edition printed for Haydn by John Bland and first offered for sale on June 10, 1791. Bland was instrumental in bringing Haydn to London, and provided Haydn’s first lodging there in January 1791. Bland had visited Haydn at Eszterháza. One day during Haydn’s grooming routine, he heard the composer complain about his dull razors. “I’d give my best quartet for a pair of good razors,” he exclaimed, upon which Bland raced back to his room, grabbed his new British razors, and presented them to Haydn. In exchange Bland received the manuscript for the Quartet, op. 55 No.2, the “Razor” Quartet.  Or so the story goes.  We do know that Bland took away the manuscript for Arianna and a contract to publish Haydn’s flute trios.

Q.R.S Playasax roll

Staff at the Archive of Recorded Sound recently came across a particularly unusual item while unboxing and sorting the Denis Condon Collection of Reproducing Pianos and Rolls, part of the recently announced Player Piano Project here at Stanford. 

This small roll, just 4.5 inches wide, was found among approximately 7500 of its larger brothers and sisters - the reproducing piano rolls that make up the Condon Collection. Following further research, it was discovered that this roll was designed for a toy, a type of player saxophone called the Playasax, produced by Q.R.S. Q.R.S are in fact the only surviving piano roll company still in existence today. 

Haydn Lieder (1781) title page detail

XII Lieder fur as Clavier, erster Teil (1781), HXXVIa:1-12

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The Lieder were among the first works requested for publication by Haydn’s Austrian publisher, Artaria & Co., with whom he began a relationship at the end of the 1770s.  Artaria announced publication of this first set of Lieder in December 1781 (the second set followed in 1784), possibly to coincide with the festivities surrounding the Grand Tour of Russian Grand Duke Paul (later Tzar Paul II) and his entourage, including the Count and Countess von Norden. Other works published around this time were the highly praised op. 33 quartets. Both the Lieder and the op. 33 quartets represent a break from Haydn's more studious earlier works; the tribute to laziness that is "Lob der Faulheit" (in the second set of Lieder) in particular, has been singled out for its wit and overall affect.

CCRMA Logo

To correspond with the Triple CCRMALite concert and symposium this weekend (Oct 26-27, 2014), the Archive of Recorded Sound and Stanford Media Preservation Lab recently worked to digitized and make available a number of historic performances from Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. These recordings, from the CCRMA Tape Archive (ARS.0037), are now available to stream via the Triple CCRMALite website.    


Peg box of a baryton, Brussels (undated)Divertimento 24o per il pariton [original manuscript, 1766]

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The baryton [pariton] is a bass instrument in the viol family that may be simultaneously bowed and plucked. It features a double set of strings, the upper set gut, for bowing, the lower set metal, for sympathetic vibration and for plucked accompaniment. The metal strings run the length of the neck behind the fingerboard, which is hollowed in the back to allow the left hand to pluck the strings.

Loosely related to the lyra-viol, the baryton likely originated in seventeenth-century England. Its moment in the sun, however, came in ighteenth-century Austria, at the court of the barytonist Prince Nicholas Esterházy, with music supplied in abundance by his ambitious young Kappelmeister, Joseph Haydn.

Title page of the Bonaparte Edition (detail)

Collection complette des quatuors / d'Haydn ; dédiée au Premier Consul Bonaparte
A Paris : Chez Pleyel, auteur et editeur de musique, [1802]

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Goethe described the classical string quartet form as “four rational people conversing,” a type of discourse embodied in the quartets of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert. Haydn, perhaps more than any of his contemporaries, shaped the string quartet into the form we know today, moving away from the typical divertimenti solo with accompaniment, to four equal voices working out thematic material in (often lively) conversation. The complete set of parts featured here is a variant of the first edition of Haydn’s complete string quartets, dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, and known as the “Bonaparte Edition,” published by Maison Pleyel in Paris in 1803. 

piano keys

Masterclass Media Foundation of England films and records world-class musicians teaching students or discussing their own approaches to the works with which they are associated.  The medici.tv database makes available 40 of the masterclasses.

Videos on keyboard music include classes with Stephen Kovacevich on Beethoven Piano Concerto no. 2,  Beethoven Piano Sonatas no. 21 and 31, Chopin Fantasy in F minor, op. 49, and Schubert Impromptus nos. 1 and 3, op. 90; András Schiff on Bach Partita no.2, Beethoven late Piano Sonatas, and Schubert Moments Musicaux nos. 1, 3, and 4. There are also masterclasses with Emanuel Ax, Boris Berman, Stephen Hough and Joanna MacGregor.

Steinway Red Welte (1922), detail

In support of a major initiative to bring attention to the study of roll playing musical instruments, the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound and Department of Music have acquired the Denis Condon Collection of Reproducing Pianos and Rolls, a collection of over 7500 rolls and ten players. The Condon Collection has long been known as one of the most important collections of reproducing pianos and piano rolls in private hands. Leading figures in the field of rolls and players are working along with Stanford faculty and staff on the project. The initiative will include roll preservation through scanning and digitization, restoration of instruments for playback, item level cataloging to allow for content discovery, and research into under-represented or rare systems and rolls. Plans for the collection include making streaming audio files of the recordings available to the public at large.

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