Haydn – String Quartet Op 76 no. 2

Recording: Performed by the Carmina quartet

Score: IMSLP

While today Franz Joseph Haydn stands in the shadow of his two great contemporaries Mozart and Beethoven, in his time it was Mozart and Beethoven who lived under the shadow of this internationally acclaimed master. His music is characterized more by subtlety and wit than the ambition and bravura of Beethoven, who would become the Romantics’ model of the heroic, tortured artist. Not surprisingly, when Haydn taught Beethoven for a year in Vienna, they didn’t get along (though the two respected each other greatly). At first listen Haydn may appear “nothing special” alongside his more celebrated peers, but don’t be deceived: he was a masterful composer and his music will reward close listening.

Introducing sonata form

With this annotated score in hand, listen to movement IV of the string quartet and follow the course of the sonata form. Listen closely for the key changes that indicate:

  1. The arrival of theme area B in the exposition (in the relative major)
  2. The beginning of the development
  3. Arriving on dominant at the end of the development
  4. The restatement of theme area B in the tonic in the recapitulation

More neat stuff

Haydn was well known as a bit of a prankster. His antics not only got him fired, but also resulted in these musical jokes: the finale of the “joke” quartet, and the second movement of the “surprise” symphony, among others.