Music & Movies
Franz Josef Haydn
Franz Josef Haydn wrote quite a few concerti for piano, which have never
really enjoyed the popularity of such pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. While
some accuse Haydn’s piano concerti of being too ‘light’ or having ‘no meaning’,
I find those to be inaccurate surface impressions. I have found a great deal of
enjoyment from these pieces of Haydn, and one of my favourites of his piano
concerti is the seventh.
Haydn’s seventh piano concerto was written in the key of F Major, and is in
incredibly cheerful work. One of my favourite things to do with this piece was
to play it on a CD player at work. It seems, at least for me, to go well into
the background, and doesn’t really require full attention to be effective. I
have, of course, given it full attention, and it is superb either way; it is a
piece of music to cheer a bad mood, or provide happy background sound to any
In the first movement, an allegro moderato, the piano starts by playing with
the orchestra, which was not found in the concerti of Mozart or most other
contemporaries. I find it to be a good move on Haydn’s part, providing what
approaches the ear as added happiness. The sound of the piano with the orchestra
seems to make it seem somehow more alive and vibrant than it would with
orchestra alone. The melody is, of course, in Haydn’s usual cheerful style,
intended to bring entertainment and pleasant emotions. The orchestral opening
has a sort of climax with a fugue, that repeats later in the movement in
modified form; I always love fugues!
The second movement, andante, opens with a fluid piano solo introducing the
theme quietly. Then, the orchestra takes it over. Everything has a soothing feel
to it, bringing relaxation to the listener. It is wonderfully calming and the
orchestra comes in occasionally to supplement the piano, which is often alone.
The movement is very short, soon fading into silence.
In the third movement comes the fantastic ending of the seventh piano
concerto, a cheerful presto. The opening piano/orchestral introduction of the
theme is one of the most cheerful examples of concerto writing I have ever
heard, and the entire movement alternates between this wonderful melody and some
calming moments. The orchestra is often there to emphasize the piano, until
together they introduce a climax of the sort that causes one to whistle and
think on those few seconds for hours. The movement quiets down for a short time
while the piano plays alone, the orchestra gradually fading back in as the music
builds itself back up. Now flowing harmony of the orchestra under the piano, now
the slightly-modified climax again, now it repeats again, then the end; nothing
drawn out or dragged on, just a simple ending that leaves the memory fresh of
the body of the last movement and grand climax.
I wonder that I had never heard this piece until I bought a CD of four Haydn
piano concerti on the Naxos CD label. It is wonderful, most especially the third
movement, which I will listen to repeatedly. On a list of happy music with
piano, this ranges up near Mozart’s concerto works for that instrument, at least
for me. If you want something you may not have heard before, something cheerful,
something happy, you might want to give this piece a try. Haydn’s neglected
seventh piano concerto is a work that may bring you a great deal of pleasure;
try it after a long, hard day at work and see what you think!
Music and Movies