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Haydn: An Acrostic

Megan Branch, Intern

Franz Joseph Haydn was known by many names in his lifetime. He almost never went by Franz, instead using Joseph, Sepperl in his youth, and Josephus on formal documents. The name Giussepe was given to him by his Italian friends and colleagues. Below is an acrostic using terms from the new anniversary edition of Oxford Composer Companions: Haydn. For the 200-year anniversary of Haydn’s death, editor David Wyn Jones has updated over 1000 Haydn-related entries about the man who, by the end of his life, was known simply as “Papa.”

Freemasonry. Although Haydn was initiated into the first grade (‘Apprentice’) of the craft of Freemasonry it did not assume an important role in his social and intellectual life, and he never composed any music for its meetings. In both these aspects he was unlike Mozart.
Jungfern’ quartets. Nickname (‘Maiden’ quartets) occasionally encountered in German-speaking countries for the op. 33 set. It derives from the publication by Hummel in 1782 in which the title page has the fashionable engraving of a maiden placed in front of a ruin of an ancient column.

Haydntorte. A rather dry cake frequently encountered in Austrian cafés and restaurants. Prompted by the opportunistic interest of the Austrian tourist industry in Haydn following the anniversary year of 1982, Johann Altdorfer, a confectioner in Eisenstadt, manufactured a new cake; the basic ingredients include egg white, sugar, hazelnuts, and flour, mixed with the Italian liqueur, grappa. There is no suggestion that it was the favorite confectionery of the composer.
Al rovescio. This term was normally used by Haydn to indicate the inversion of a fugue subject, though it could also be used to indicate retrograde (or crab) motion. In the first sense it appears in the fugal finales of the quartets op. 20 nos. 2, 5, and 6, an academic conceit to draw attention to a particularly clever passage of contrapuntal writing.
York, Frederick Duke of (b. 16 Aug. 1763; d. 5 Jan. 1827). Second son of George III and a notable patron of music. In 1791 he married Princess Friedericke Charlotte Ulricke […] In November of the same year Haydn was a guest at their country residence, Oatlands, near Weybridge in Surrey.
Den alten Schmarn’. In June 1803 Haydn wrote from Vienna to Joseph Elßler, an oboist at the Esterházy court in Eisenstadt, asking him to forward a copy of Symphony no. 60, referring to it as ‘den altern Schmarn.’ ‘Schmarn’ is a pancake, served in shreds, and a popular dish in Austria and Bavaria; the word is also used colloquially to indicate something worthless. An English equivalent to Haydn’s expression would be ‘that old tripe.’
National’ symphony. In August 1789 Haydn wrote to the the French publisher, SIEBER, confirming that he would compose four symphonies for him, one of which would be called a ‘National’ symphony. Haydn never fulfilled this promise. A ‘National’ symphony would probably have invoked national musical styles, as Dittersdorf had done in a symphony in A (Sinfonia nel gusto cinque Nazioni) from before 1766.

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