Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Haydn - Symphony 82 in C Major, 'The Bear'

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was an Austrian composer that was a leader in what is known as the Classical Era in music. His total compositional output is staggering, with 104 Symphonies, 68 String Quartets, 52 Keyboard Sonatas, with a total of over 750 works.

He was the Kappelmeister for almost thirty years for the affluent Esterházy family at their isolated and remote estate in Hungary.  "I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original," Haydn has been quoted as saying.  He composed endlessly for his patrons at the estate, was in charge of the care and upkeep of the instruments, lead the orchestra, played in chamber music groups, and lead the production of operas at the estate. 

Haydn's fame as a composer grew despite his isolation, and he was granted permission from his employers to accept commissions for works from others. One of these commissions was from a group in Paris, France. In 1785 they commissioned six symphonies from Haydn. One of these symphonies was number 82 in C Major, 'The Bear'. The Symphonies created a sensation in Paris and were very popular. 

This Symphony got its nick name from the 4th movement of the work. A musician that was doing a transcription of the symphony for piano thought the droning bass imitation of a bagpipe sounded like music to accompany a dancing bear. Dancing bears were a popular street entertainment of the time. 

Haydn was of a generally good disposition and had a great sense of humor.  Sometimes that sense of humor comes through in his music, as it does in this symphony.

Haydn's Symphony #82 in C Major, 'The Bear':

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