The Seasons : Work information

Composers
(Franz) Joseph Haydn ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Leipzig Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, Herbert Kegel (Conductor)

This work

Work name
The Seasons
Work number
Hob. XXI:3
Key
n/a
Genre
A
Composed
1801-01-01 02:00:00

This recording

Label
Forlane CI
Producer
Ivan Pastor
Engineer
n/a
Recording date
1992-01-01 00:00:00

The Composers

(Franz) Joseph Haydn

Joseph Haydn, the most celebrated composer of his time, excelled in every genre and, along with Mozart and Beethoven, represents the high point of Viennese Classicism. His long career began amid the patronage of the late Baroque and concluded as the early flowerings of Romanticism began to sweep across Europe.

Born on 31 March 1732, the son of a master wheelwright and brother to two fellow professional musicians, Haydn's musical talents were recognised early. In 1739/40 he became a choirboy at the Stephansdom in Vienna and was given a musical education.

But for his father's refusal of consent, Haydn might have been made a castrato. In the event, his voice matured and in his 18th year he was compelled to leave. For eight tough years, Haydn was a freelance musician and teacher, composing in the evenings and learning as much as possible from Porpora and Metastasio.

In 1757, he gained his first regular appointment, as director of music for Count Morzin, and began to write his first symphonies. He also married, wedding Maria Keller on 26 November 1760 in an unhappy relationship that resulted in infidelities on both sides.

In 1761, Haydn was recruited as Vice-Kappellmeister to the Esterházy family and worked steadily to enlarge the orchestra. His treatment was generous, especially after Paul Anton was succeeded by Nicolaus Esterházy, and his status was more that of a professional employee than servant.

Haydn's compositional output for the court was largely instrumental in the 1760s and, apart from symphonies and concertos, included baryton trios for the Prince to play. On 3 March 1766, however, Kappellmeister Gregor Joseph Werner died and Haydn now inherited responsibilities for church music as well.

The summers were now spent at Nicolaus's new castle Esterháza, where a steadily increasing number of operas were staged. By 1778 the court was spending ten months of the year there and a regular opera season had been established. Between 1777 and 1783, Haydn wrote almost one new opera each year in addition to revising and altering new operas acquired from Vienna.

After 1783, Haydn wrote no new operas, devoting himself instead to the composition of instrumental music for publication. A new contract in 1779 had removed a clause of exclusivity, enabling Haydn's works to be heard outside the court. His first works appeared in print in Vienna in 1780 and Haydn also began to market his music in other countries.

Prestigious foreign commissions, such as those for the Paris Symphonies and Seven Last Words, were spreading Haydn's fame. In addition, he was no longer isolated at Esterháza, spending much of his time in Vienna where he had many friends and patrons. The strength of Haydn's friendship with Mozart remains uncertain, though the mutual admiration of each other's abilities is clear.

When Nicolaus Esterházy was succeeded by his son, Anton, the musical establishment was dissolved, allowing Haydn, on reduced salary, to move to Vienna. He immediately received invitation to travel to London, where he composed twelve symphonies for the promoter Salomon over the course of two trips in 1791-2 and 1794-5.

The London visits were the highpoint of Haydn's career and were particularly lucrative financially. When Anton was succeeded by Nicolaus II, Haydn was reappointed as Kappellmeister and returned to Vienna. His duties were primarily concerned with sacred vocal music and he wrote a number of masses and oratorios, including The Creation and The Seasons.

Haydn had suffered a serious illness in 1800-1 and, after completing his last major work in 1802, underwent a period of physical decline marked by a steady stream of honours, including an honorary citizenship of Vienna. The French bombardment of Vienna on 11-12 May 1809 hastened his end, though Napoleon stationed a guard of honour outside his house, and he died on 31 May.   

Haydn is colloquially known as the 'Father of the Symphony' and of his 100 or so examples, around thirty are regularly performed. He also practically invented the String Quartet as a genre for serious compositional thought and composed a huge amount of important vocal music.

Related Composers: Mozart, BoccheriniBeethoven

Track listing

  • Spring: Seht wie der strenge Winter flieht 6:13 min
  • Spring: Komm holder Lenz! 3:44 min
  • Spring: Vom Widder strahlet jetzt 0:32 min
  • Spring: Schon eilet froh der Ackermann 3:57 min
  • Spring: Der Landmann hat sein Werk vollbracht 0:36 min
  • Spring: Sei nun gnädig milder Himmel! 5:41 min
  • Spring: Erhört is unser flehn 0:56 min
  • Spring: O wie lieblich ist der Anblick 5:30 min
  • Spring: Ewiger mächtiger gütiger Gott! 5:35 min
  • Summer: Im grauen Schleier rückt heran 4:33 min
  • Summer: Der muntre Hirt versammelt nun 2:56 min
  • Summer: Sie steigt herauf die Sonne 4:47 min
  • Summer: Nun regt und bewegt sich alles umher 0:34 min
  • Summer: Die Mittagsonne brennt jetst 1:14 min
  • Summer: Dem Druck erlieget die Natur 4:19 min
  • Summer: Willkommen jetzt o dunkler Hain 3:21 min
  • Summer: Welche Labung für die Sinne! 4:42 min
  • Summer: O seht! Es steigt in der schwüllen Luft 2:35 min
  • Summer: Ach das Ungewitter naht 4:16 min
  • Summer: Die düstern Wolken trennen sich 4:20 min
  • Autumn: Introduction 1:34 min
  • Autumn: Was durch seine Blüte 0:59 min
  • Autumn: So lohnet die Natur dem Fleiss 5:54 min
  • Autumn: Seht wie zum Haselbusche dort 0:57 min
  • Autumn: Ihr schönen aus der Stadt, kommt her! 8:29 min
  • Autumn: Nun zeiget das entblösste Feld 1:00 min
  • Autumn: Seht auf die breiten Wiesen hin! 3:11 min
  • Autumn: Hier treibt ein dichter Kreiss 0:43 min
  • Autumn: Hört das laute Getön 4:01 min
  • Autumn: Am Rebenstocke blinket jetzt 1:01 min
  • Autumn: Juchhe! Juchhe! der Wein ist da 6:57 min
  • Winter: Introduction 2:45 min
  • Winter: Nun senket sich das blasse Jahr 2:49 min
  • Winter: Licht und Leben sind geshwächet 2:41 min
  • Winter: Gefesselt steht der breite See 1:39 min
  • Winter: Hier steht der Wandrer nun 4:43 min
  • Winter: So wie er naht, schalt in sein Ohr 1:12 min
  • Winter: Knurre, Schnurre, knurre! 2:42 min
  • Winter: Abgesponnen ist der Flachs 0:24 min
  • Winter: Ein Mädchen, das auf Ehre hielt 3:16 min
  • Winter: Vom dürren Osten dringt ein scharfer 0:49 min
  • Winter: Erblicke hier betörter Mensch 2:45 min
  • Winter: Wo sind nun die höh'n Entwurfe 2:22 min
  • Winter: Dann bricht der grosse Morgen an! 5:25 min

Notes

The phenomenal success of Haydn's oratorio, The Creation, prompted the composer to write a sequel, The Seasons. Basing the work loosely on James Thomson's oratorio of the same name, and collaborating again with Van Swieten, Haydn produced another choral work of great originality. The Seasons was first performed privately in the Schwarzenberg Palace on 24 April 1801 and soon travelled all over Europe.

Though the text is not as inspired as its predecessor and the subject-matter is more down-to-earth, Haydn creates four essentially separate character-studies. Though he found composing the work difficult, the music does not betray the strain.

Highlights include the orchestral description of sunrise in Summer, the hunting and drinking choruses of Autumn, and the final Aria and Chorus from Winter.