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Haydn: A Bicentenary Celebration

28 May to 2 August 2009

The Chester Beatty Library with the support of the Austrian Embassy and the Austrian National Library commemorates the bicentenary of Haydn’s death with a small loan exhibition running until 2 August.  Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was the oldest among the classical triumvirate of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven and one of the main exponents of Viennese Classicism.  He created extraordinary music for almost every genre and featured in this exhibition is an original autographed score of one of Haydn’s cello concertos (1783) and several first editions of his published works, including some early Dublin editions.

The original hand-written score of a musical work provides a privileged, intimate view into the composer’s creative process. The rediscovery in 1951 of this original manuscript of Haydn’s second Cello Concerto in D major was of particular significance.

Although first published in 1804 in Haydn’s name, this concerto was subsequently attributed to Anton Kraft, a cellist at Esterházy for whom Haydn had written the work in 1783. Kraft most probably advised Haydn on the technical and virtuoso cello writing, but the rediscovery of the manuscript in Haydn’s handwriting and with his signature and date ‘[1]783’on the cover confirmed that he was the composer. It also laid to rest the dreadful late 19th century arrangement in which the concerto had become known and played. Scored for solo cello, 2 oboes, 2 horns and strings and noted for its virtuosic solo writing, this D major concerto has since re-established itself in the repertoire.

It is one of only two surviving cello concertos by Haydn. The C major concerto dating from the early 1760s came to light only in 1961 when the original manuscript was discovered in the National Museum in Prague.