Franz Joseph Haydn, the great Austrian Classical Era composer, is known as Papa Haydn because he is considered the father of the classical symphony. Haydn composed 104 classical symphonies. A characteristic of a Haydn symphony is its bright, happy, playful nature. Audiences of the time loved their Papa Haydn because of the good feeling when listening to a Haydn symphony. There were so many times in a Haydn symphony where he would put in a surprising moment [for example a forzando, out of the blue, in the middle of a soft passage] that the audience looked forward to them in anticipation. In fact, that anticipation at one of the premiers of Haydn’s Symphony #96 in D Major, which was conducted by the maestro himself, literally saved lives. What happened at the premiere is, audience members in the back seats moved closer to the stage to get a better view of their beloved “Papa”. Legend has it [and this is believed by music historians to be true] that a few minutes after the audience members from the back seats moved closer, a giant chandelier crashed down among the recently vacated seats; thus Haydn’s Symphony #96 has been given the title, the “Miracle Symphony”.
It wasn’t just symphonies that Haydn wrote. Papa Haydn wrote many chamber music pieces [like string quartets] and also, many great works for the piano. One of my favorite Haydn pieces for the piano was his Piano Concerto in D Major. I love this concerto. This D Major concerto is just like a typical Haydn symphony with its light, playful nature. Haydn uses the D Major key to bring out a bright and happy feeling when listening to this concerto.
Haydn scored this D Major Concerto with the typical three movements: The first movement, Vivace, has a very happy, bright quality; The second movement, Poco Adagio, is a pleasant slow movement that switches to the A Major key. The second movement is unusual as it also contains a cadenza; The third movement, Rondo all’Ungarese-Allegro assai, returns to the home key of D Major and this is a very fun “Haydn” playful movement.
So, please turn up the volume and enjoy one of Papa’s piano pieces. His Piano Concerto #1 in D Major:
I hope you enjoyed this Piano Concerto by Franz Joseph Haydn!