LANSDOWNE

SYMPHONY

ORCHESTRA

Haydn Symphony No. 104 Program Notes

Some  of  the  greatest  musical  innovations  take  place  when  composers  have  space  to  experiment.    That  is  exactly  what  took  place  when  Prince  Paul  Anton  Esterházy  hired  a  29-year-old  freelance  composer,  Joseph  Haydn,  to  run  the  music  for  their  court,  during  Vienna  winters  and  especially  at  their  newly-built  Hungarian  summer  palace,  which  included  an  opera  theater.  Haydn  conducted,  composed,  and  managed  all  musical  performances.    While  the  operas  are  less  frequently  performed,  Haydn’s  string  quartets  and  symphonies  are  the  cornerstones  of  both  genres.  At  the  beginning  of  his  tenure,  the  orchestra  contained  between  13-15  players,  but  it  grew  under  Paul  Anton’s  brother  and  successor,  Prince  Nicolaus:  in  its  heyday  (in  the  1780s)  there  were  up  to  24  members.  Meanwhile,  throughout  the  18th  century  the  city  of  London  was  growing  into  a  bustling  metropolis,  with  a  flourishing  middle  class.    Both  nobility  and  public  subscriptions  (ticket  sales)  supported  an  active  musical  life.    Composers  such  as  Handel  and  Johann  Christian  Bach  (son  of  Johann  Sebastian)  did  well  in  settling  there,  and  in  his  last  months,  even  Mozart  was  planning  his  first  trip  to  London  (as  an  adult,  that  is).  With  time,  Haydn’s  operatic  duties  at  the  court  waned,  and  he  promoted  his  instrumental  music  in  Vienna  and  abroad.    When  the  son  of  Nicolaus  Esterházy,  Anton,  inherited  the  estate  in  1790,  the  orchestra  was  wound  up.    Within  a  short  time,  the  London-based  violinist  and  concert  promoter  Johann  Peter  Salomon  paid  Haydn  a  visit,  insisting  (with  a  contract  for  a  considerable  sum  of  money)  that  Haydn,  now  nearly  sixty,  visit  London.    This  visit  was  a  tremendous  success  on  every  level,  as  were  later  visits  and  series  of  performances,  even  in  1795,  after  Salomon’s  concerts  had  dried  up.    The  Symphony  No.  104  was  performed  at  a  benefit  concert  on  May  4,  1795,  and  Haydn  wrote  on  the  manuscript  that  it  was  the  twelfth  symphony  he’d  composed  in  England.    The  critic  (and  friend  of  Haydn),  Charles  Burney,  wrote  that  Haydn’s  symphonies  of  this  time  were  “such  as  were  never  heard  before,  of  any  mortal’s  production;  of  what  Apollo  &  the  Muses  compose  or  perform  we  can  only  judge  by  such  productions  as  these.”