COMPOSED BY

Franz Joseph Haydn (March 1732 - May 1809) in 1797

DURATION

Approximately 25 minutes (total 4 movements)

Instrumentation

String Quartet (Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Cello)

WHAT'S String Quartet?

The string quartet can be defined in several ways. At the most basic level the musical term refers to the medium of four string instruments: two violins, viola, and violoncello. It can also be used to describe the collective identity of the instrumentalists themselves, in particular established professional ensembles.

SUMMARY OF THE COMPOSITION

This piece is nicknamed Largo, attributed to the tempo distinction that dominates the second movement both in length and in character. Named after Count Joseph Erdödy who had asked Haydn for the piece, the six “Erdödy Quartets of Op. 76” reflect a new profundity, especially in the slow movements. At the same time, the fast movements are powerful and technically challenging. Even the minuet takes on a more serious nature.

1

Allegretto

Despite its gracious opening, the first movement has some serious underpinnings in its quick shifts to the minor, with a development section giving new attention to the cello. Then, things heat up, followed by a surprise moment of silence before returning to the spirit of the gracious opening with variations and a brief with a splendid cadenza for the first violin.

2

Largo. Cantabile e mesto

As the longest of the four movements, the second movement brings out the profoundly touching qualities of the piece. This pensive movement has lyricism edged with sadness and certain strength, and ends on a gentle note.

3

Menuetto. Allegro

The third movement is an elegant dance which offers a relief to the intensity of the Largo. A Trio section goes well beyond the spirit of dancing with its complex counterpoint.

4

Finale. Presto

The final movement reflects a happy spirit. This happiness carries a strong edge of the colourful Gypsy spirit.

WHO IS ... Franz Joseph Haydn?

Suprising fun facts

  • Haydn was the brother of the composer, Michael Haydn.
  • Famous for his pranks. While still studying, he once cut off the ponytail of a fellow chorus member.
  • Was affectionately called “Papa” Haydn by many people for various reasons.
  • He was occupied with his works and travelling, and didn’t pay much attention to Beethoven who attempted to study with him.
  • Was kicked out of the choir at 16 when his voice broke

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