Chapter 16: The Late Eighteenth Century: Haydn and Mozart
Prelude. (CHWM 342–343)
The most successful composers of the late eighteenth century were Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791). Haydn and Mozart synthesized styles to create music that appealed to a diverse audience. The textbook discusses Haydn’s works by genre and Mozart’s works chronologically and geographically.
I. (Franz) Joseph Haydn (CHWM 343–45)
Haydn worked at the Esterházy court for nearly thirty years, and his time at his patron’s country estate, Esterháza, greatly influenced his career.
- Music at Esterháza
Haydn composed whatever the Esterházy princes demanded, including opera, sacred vocal works, orchestral pieces, chamber music, and music for marionette plays. He also conducted, trained and supervised all musicians, and maintained instruments. Visitors kept him up-to-date on current developments in music.
Biography: (Franz) Joseph Haydn
Haydn was trained in music as a choirboy in Vienna, where, as a young adult, he barely supported himself as a freelance musician. His first steady job was as music director for Count Morzin. In 1761, he entered the service of the Esterházy princes, which allowed him to hear his music in excellent performances and to experiment with new ideas. His publications brought him fame throughout Europe. During the early 1790s, he lived for a while in London, where he composed, gave concerts, and taught, before returning to Vienna.
II. Haydn’s Instrumental Music (CHWM 345–54, NAWM 111–12)
Although Haydn’s music reflected the changing tastes of the times, some of his works, especially the symphonies, have highly individual traits.
- Haydn’s style and compositional process
In his time, Haydn’s style was recognized as highly individual. His compositions had broad appeal because they combined the familiar with the unexpected.
- Overview of the symphonies
Haydn’s symphonies set the pattern for later composers through their high quality, wide dissemination, lasting appeal, and individuality.
- Symphonic Form
- Four-movement structure
Beginning in the 1760s, Haydn’s symphonies typically had four movements—a fast sonata-form movement (often with a slow introduction), a slow movement, a minuet and trio, and a fast finale. This format became standard for later composers.
- Oxford Symphony
Haydn’s Symphony no. 92 in G Major (Oxford) illustrates many elements that characterize his symphonic techniques. Music: NAWM 112
- First-movement form
In the first movement, Haydn created contrasts between stability and instability to help listeners follow the form. Music: NAWM 112a
Each thematic area in the exposition contains a variety of ideas.
In the development, Haydn used a variety of techniques to manipulate motives from the exposition.
Haydn sometimes disguised or played down the appearance of the recapitulation, which repeats all themes in the tonic (sometimes altered) and often amplifies the transition.
- Second movement
In the second movement, Haydn usually offered songlike themes and simple forms to contrast with the drama and complexity of the first movement. Music: NAWM 112b
- Minuet and trio
The minuet and trio provided relaxation, since it was shorter than the second movement, was written in a more popular style, and was in a form that was easy to follow. Music: NAWM 112c
The final movement, usually in sonata form, rondo form, or sonata-rondo form, closes the symphony with a buildup of tension, a climax, and a release. Music: NAWM 112d
- The Symphonies
- The symphonies of 1768–1772
Beginning about 1768, Haydn treated the symphony as a serious work that was longer and had greater dynamic extremes, a richer harmonic palette, wider ranging modulations, and more contrapuntal textures than his previous symphonies.
- The symphonies of 1773–1788
Beginning around 1773, Haydn composed symphonies in a more popular style that was immediately intelligible yet serious.
- Paris symphonies
In the 1780s, Haydn increasingly composed for the public, combining popular and learned styles in his Paris symphonies, scored for strings, flute, and pairs of oboes, bassoons, and horns.
- Symphonies No. 88–92
In symphonies No. 88–92 (1787–1788), Haydn mixed popular and learned styles, giving the works lasting appeal.
- London symphonies
Haydn’s twelve London symphonies have daring harmonic movements, intensified rhythmic drive, memorable themes, and an expanded orchestra. The appealing features of these symphonies aim to please both music lovers and experts.
- Special effects
Haydn often used novel effects, and his music appeals to the least experienced listener while rewarding the connoisseur.
- The String Quartets
Haydn was the first great master of the string quartet (a genre intended for amateurs), and the evolution of his quartets parallels that of his symphonies.
- Opp. 9, 17, and 20
In Opp. 9, 17, and 20, Haydn established the same four-movement pattern in the string quartet as in the symphony, but with the minuet often before the slow movement and with a unique approach to sonata-form movements.
- Humor in Op. 33
The six Op. 33 quartets (1781) are light-hearted, witty, and tuneful and include fast or metrical jesting minuets titled scherzo. The humor in these works is aimed at performers. Music: NAWM 111
- Later quartets
Each of Haydn’s late quartets had individual features and juxtaposed diverse styles and emotions.
- Keyboard Sonatas
Haydn’s early keyboard sonatas are suitable for harpsichord, clavichord, or piano, but his later ones require the piano’s dynamic range. His sonatas were written for amateurs to play in private, and they usually feature three movements in a fast-slow-fast format.
III. Haydn’s Vocal Works (CHWM 355–56)
Haydn considered his vocal works his most successful compositions, believing, like his contemporaries, that vocal music was more important than instrumental music.
Haydn’s many Italian operas (most of them comic) were successful in their day but are now rarely performed.
Haydn’s most important works for the church were six masses (1796–1802) that blend traditional elements with a newly prominent orchestra and elements drawn from the symphony.
While in England, Haydn heard some of Handel’s oratorios. His own late oratorios, The Creation (1798) and The Seasons (1801), show Handel’s influence and feature depiction in music. Music: NAWM 113
IV. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (CHWM 357)
Mozart toured as a child prodigy in the 1760s and, unable to find a suitable position, spent his mature years as a free agent in Vienna.
- Mozart’s teachers
Mozart’s first teacher was his father, Leopold Mozart, and through touring, Mozart was exposed at a young age to a wide range of music, which influenced his compositions throughout his life.
V. Mozart’s Salzburg Years (CHWM 357–60)
After touring Europe as a child prodigy, Mozart lived chiefly in Salzburg, although he looked for a position elsewhere.
Mozart was commissioned to write an opera seria, Idomeneo (1781), for Munich.
- Piano sonatas
Mozart wrote piano variations for his pupils and piano sonatas for his own concert performances. The sonatas K. 279 through K. 284 were meant to be published together, and K. 331 is notable for its first movement in variation form and for its finale, which invokes Turkish military bands.
Biography: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Mozart was born in Salzburg. He composed, performed on harpsichord, and improvised at a very young age, and his father took him and his sister Nannerl on tours across Europe as child prodigies. In 1781, Mozart moved to Vienna and made a good income composing, teaching private students, performing, and selling his works to publishers. He was a master in every medium and is considered one of the greatest musicians of the Western tradition.
- Other instrumental music
Mozart also wrote serenades and divertimenti, violin concertos, and a piano concerto.
VI. Mozart’s Vienna Years (CHWM 360–75, NAWM 114–17)
Mozart earned his living as a freelance musician in Vienna.
- Freelance in Vienna
Near the end of his life, Mozart was still actively freelancing, but he was not good at managing his expenses and requested assistance from friends. Mozart’s most famous works came from his time in Vienna and show a synthesis of form and content and of galant and learned styles.
- Baron van Swieten
Mozart’s music was enriched by influences from three of the century’s greatest composers: Haydn, whom he knew personally, and Handel and J. S. Bach, whose music he discovered through Baron Gottfried van Swieten.
- Solo piano works
The first movement of Mozart’s Sonata in F Major, K. 332, exemplifies his style at the beginning of his Vienna period. Music: NAWM 114
- The Haydn Quartets
Mozart’s six Haydn quartets (dedicated to Haydn) show a mature capacity to absorb the essence of Haydn’s technique of pervasive thematic development and display substantial equality between the four instruments.
Innovations: The Public Concert
Public concerts and concert series were organized in many cities and were attended mainly by those of the upper-middle and upperclasses. London was home to the Academy of Ancient Music (founded in 1726) and the Bach-Abel concerts (1765–1781). Paris had the Concert spirituel series (1725–1790), which introduced repertoire and composers from across the continent. The Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig became one of the most famous orchestras in the world. Public concerts were social events and were advertised by word of mouth and in print media. A typical concert presented a variety of vocal and instrumental genres for various ensembles.
In Context: Cosmopolitan Vienna
Eighteenth-century Vienna was a cosmopolitan cultural center that supported innovative composers and musical styles.
Many of Mozart’s other chamber works are also classics, including his string quintets and works for solo wind and string instruments.
Mozart’s early symphonies were intended to open concerts or theatrical events, and his later symphonies were often the main feature on concert programs. Mozart’s six Vienna symphonies have ambitious dimensions, make greater demands on performers, contain harmonic and contrapuntal complexity, and end with climatic final movements. Each symphony has its own special character.
The slow introductions to a few of Mozart’s symphonies adopt aspects of the French overture and create suspense through intense harmony.
As in Haydn’s late symphonies, the finales of Mozart’s late symphonies, like the Jupiter symphony, balance the serious opening movement. Music: NAWM 116
- Piano Concertos
Mozart composed seventeen piano concertos for his own public performance and wrote them to please a wide variety of listeners.
- Concerto form
Mozart’s concertos are in three movements in the order fast-slow-fast.
- First movement
Mozart’s first movements blend elements of ritornello and sonata form, as in J. C. Bach’s concertos, but they also contain individual features. Music: NAWM 115
- Second and last movements
Mozart’s second movements resemble lyrical arias, and his finales are typically rondos or sonata-rondos on themes with a popular character.
Although the concertos were showpieces, Mozart’s cadenzas served a musical function: to balance longer modulatory or development sections.
- Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Mozart’s operatic fame in Vienna and beyond was established by the Singspiel Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782).
- Da Ponte operas
For his last three Italian comic operas, The Marriage of Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787), and Così fan tutte (1790), Mozart collaborated with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749–1838).
- Le nozze di Figaro
The Marriage of Figaro followed the conventions of opera buffa, but Da Ponte’s libretto raised it to a higher level. Mozart captured the opera’s characters through his music and showed them interacting dramatically in ensembles.
- Don Giovanni
Da Ponte and Mozart created the first opera about Don Juan that took the character seriously. The first scene of Don Giovanni mixes the styles of opera seria and comic opera to develop three levels of characters: a noble class that sings in opera seria styles; a lower class that sings in opera buffa styles; and characters like Don Giovanni, who pass easily between the two styles. References to familiar styles and departures from their conventions are crucial to Mozart’s depiction of characters and their feelings. Music: NAWM 117
- Così fan tutte
Così fan tutte is an opera buffa that includes some of Mozart’s most melodious music.
- Die Zauberflöte
Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute, 1791), a Singspiel, contains many eighteenth-century musical styles and traditions as well as references to the teachings and ceremonies of Freemasonry.
In Context: Mozart and His Father
Mozart had a complex relationship with his father, Leopold, who was an unselfish mentor when Mozart was young but turned unforgiving when Mozart moved to Vienna and married against Leopold’s wishes.
- Church Music
Mozart wrote church music from an early age.
Mozart’s Requiem was left unfinished at his death and completed by his student and collaborator Franz Xaver Süssmayr (1766–1803).
Postlude (CHWM 375)
Among the composers of their time, only Haydn and Mozart achieved widespread fame and composed such complex music. By the early nineteenth century, some of their works had become classics.