The death of a prince

… he is remembered as the principal employer of … Joseph Haydn.

(Ironic, isn’t it, that a scion of one of the greatest of Austro-Hungarian noble families, Prince Nikolaus ‘The Magnificent’ should be best remembered for having been the employer of the son of a wheelwright and a cook!)

Nikolaus_Esterhazy

Nikolaus I, Prince Eszterházy died on the 28th September, 1790. He had inherited both his princely title and Haydn from his brother, Paul, in 1762; and, after a rather wobbly start, the newly elevated prince and his capellmeister settled down to what was to become a pretty unique patron/composer relationship. There is, though, a little mystery: it’s easy to understand the nigh on 200 pieces that Haydn wrote which included a baryton(??*) (the prince’s chosen instrument) in the ensemble, and it’s a bit of reasonably straightforward logic to arrive at the symphonies and the operas – the prince, after all, employed an orchestra and had an opera house (and puppet theatre) at Eszterháza – but what about the 43 or so string quartets that Haydn wrote during his 28 years of service to Prince Nikolaus? There’s no record of the prince showing the slightest interest in either the string quartet as an ensemble or in promoting performances of these masterworks by his internationally famous servant. Puzzling.

In the year of the death of his patron, Haydn wrote a third set of quartets (op. 64) for the violinist, Johann Tost (they include the famous ‘Lark’ Quartet). He followed this three years later by the op. 71 set, dedicated to a relative of the Eszterházy’s, Count Anton Georg Apponyi.

One of Haydn’s most beautiful adagios…

Op. 64 No. 2, b – 2. Adagio ma non troppo (opening)
Haydn: String Quartets (complete) – Angeles String Quartet
Angeles String Quartet
Label:Philips
Catalogue No:4646502
Series: Collectors Edition
Discs: 21

* learn more about the baryton here:

 

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To view the score of Op. 64 No. 5 The Lark without downloading click below

Op. 64 No. 5 The Lark

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