Category Archives: Music

Haydn in Plain Sight

Haydn in Plain Sight

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period.

His brilliant Trumpet Concerto:

Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family. Being isolated from other composers and trends in music forced him to be original. Yet his music circulated widely, and for much of his career he was the most celebrated composer in Europe.

Haydn Piano Trio no. 44 in E major:

He was a friend and mentor of Mozart, and a tutor of Beethoven.

The Lord Nelson Mass:

Haydn wrote 107 symphonies in total, as well as 83 string quartets, 45 piano trios, 62 piano sonatas, 14 masses and 26 operas, amongst countless other scores. He was instrumental in the development of chamber music such as the string quartet and piano trio.

Cello Concerto No. 1:

The musicians who performed with him called him “Papa” Haydn. The nickname became increasingly meaningful as Haydn’s 30-plus years of service in the Eszterházy court went by; with each year, he became increasingly older than the average musician serving under him. Clemons Höslinger says, “Papa arose as a term of affection, commonly used by the Esterházy players … for a father figure, somebody who willingly gave advice and who was generally respected as a musician.” Eventually, musicians who called Haydn Papa expanded beyond the Esterházy court and included many who admired and acknowledged his work.

Piano Sonata in E-flat major, Hob. XVI/52, L. 62

Another sense of the term “Papa” Haydn came from his role in the history of classical music, notably in the development of the symphony and string quartet. While Haydn did not invent either genre, his work is considered important enough that the labels “Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet” are often attached to him.

The Creation, an oratorio on the scale of Handel’s Messiah:

Perhaps more than any other composer’s, Haydn’s music is known for its humor. The most famous example is the sudden loud chord in the slow movement of his “Surprise” symphony; Haydn’s many other musical jokes include numerous false endings (such as in his quartets Op. 33 No. 2 and Op. 50 No. 3), and the whimsical rhythmic play in the trio of the third movement of his string quartet Op. 50 No. 1, movement 3 (Menuetto):

According to Bachtrack, Symphony no. 45 in F sharp minor, “Farewell,” was composed while Haydn’s patron and his court were at the summer palace at Eszterháza in 1772. Their stay had been longer than expected and the musicians were anxious to return to their families back in Eisenstadt, so Haydn sent a not-so-subtle message. During the finale, each musician stopped playing, snuffed out the candle on his music stand and left the stage until only two violinists, Haydn himself and concertmaster, Luigi Tomasini, were left. Message received; the court returned home the following day! 

Creative Juice #333

Creative Juice #333

From art to books to quilts, so much to see and read.

Video of the Week: Precision Drum Team


And fifes!

Creative Juice #331

Creative Juice #331

Bunches of quilts. A couple of poems. And more.

The Grammys 2023: The Winners


For the last five weeks, I’ve been listening to the nominations in ten categories and choosing who I think should win those Grammys. Sunday night, I really tried to watch the awards broadcast, but the couch in my family room is really comfy, and the show was almost four hours, so guess what—I fell asleep!

Luckily, the winners are posted on the internet, so I was able to find out who won. Let’s see how well I did with my predictions.

Best Music Video: I chose “All too Well: the Short Film” by Taylor Swift. And the judges agreed!

Best Dance/Electronic Recording: I chose “Break My Soul” by Beyoncé, and the judges agreed!

Best Rock Performance: I chose “Broken Horses” by Brandi Carlile, and the judges agreed!

Best R&B Song: I chose “Hurt Me So Good” by Jazmine Sullivan. The judges chose “Cuff It” by Beyoncé. Now, I like Beyoncé, but I hate this song. She uses the F-word all the way through. Really? This is the best R&B song? In a category with “Hurt Me So Good,” “Please Don’t Walk Away,” “Good Morning Gorgeous,” and “Hrs & Hrs”? And this is the one they thought was best? Or did they just want Beyoncé to be the first artist to win 32 awards (breaking conductor Georg Solti’s record of 31 in 1998)? How would it have hurt Beyoncé to tie that record this year and break it next year? She’d still be amazing. Here’s the UGLY song that the judges chose for Best R&B Song (BTW, they’re wrong):

Best Country Song: I chose “’Til You Can’t,” written by Matt Rodgers and Ben Stennis and performed by Cody Johnson, and the judges agreed:

Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song: I chose “God Really Loves Us,” but the judges chose an equally beautiful song, “Fear Is Not My Future”:

Best American Roots Song: I chose “Prodigal Daughter,” but the judges chose “Just Like That” by Bonnie Raitt, which also won Song of the Year and Best Americana Performance:

Best Global Music Performance: I chose “Bayethe,” and the judges agreed.

Best Song Written for Visual Media: I chose “Nobody Like U” from Turning Red. The judges chose “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Encanto:

Best Classical Instrumental Solo: I chose Abels: Isolation Variation, performed by Hillary Hahn. The judges chose “Letters for the Future” performed by Time for Three; conductor Xian Zhang (Philadelphia Orchestra):

I picked 5 winners out of 10. That’s slightly better than my choices last year (46%).

Now it’s your turn. Did you watch the Grammys? Were you happy with the winners? Who were your favorites? Were there any you particularly disagreed with? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

The Grammys 2023: Best Classical Instrumental Solo


Abels: Isolation Variation, performed by Hilary Hahn:

Bach: The Art of Life is a double album by Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov consisting of Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Art of the Fugue and other pieces by Bach and his sons, plus other composers’ works that appear in the Magdalena Bach notebook. It’s a fascinating project. Here is one selection:

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, performed by Mitsuko Uchida. Here is the theme:

The theme and all 33 variations are also available on YouTube. Listen to at least one or two, because you really can’t judge them based on just the video I’ve posted here.

Time For Three is a string trio made up of violinist Nick Kendall, bassist Ranaan Meyer and violinist Charles Yang. Their album, Letters for the Future, features Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto 4-3 and Kevin Put’s Contact along with the Philadelphia Orchestra (Xian Zhang conducting). Here are some excerpts from Concerto 4-3:

(This has nothing to do with the Grammys, but I first heard of Charles Yang a decade ago, when I saw this video of him playing a duet with ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro:)

A Night in Upper Town—The Music of Zoran Krajacic, performed by Mak Grgic:

It’s really hard to choose a favorite for this category. How can you judge between a single song and a double album? The scope of work is so diverse. (Actually, I’m not sure if the award is for one song or for the entire album it’s on; for some of the nominations, one song is all I could find online.) The award is for the performance, not for the composition. And all of the nominated musicians are outstanding.

I eliminated Mak Grgic not because he didn’t play well, but because the piece was less virtuoso level.

Ultimately, I’d like Hillary Hahn to win, and I have to admit it’s a totally subjective choice. Everything I like about her performance can be said about the other three as well. On repeated listenings, I like how she used dynamics to give interest to a piece that could have seemed merely discordant. Her musicianship is impeccable. We don’t get to see her play in the video, but we can hear her movement–it’s there in the expressiveness of the performance.

Now it’s your turn. Who would you give the Grammy to, and why? Share in the comments below.

The Grammy ceremony will air tomorrow, Sunday night, February 5, on CBS. I’m not sure if I will watch some or all of it, but I’ll definitely compare the results to my picks next Tuesday. See you then!

Videos of the Week: Sing with Me


A guy on the boardwalk randomly asks people to sing with him. A woman obliges. It turns out she’s really good.

She sings with her sisters. They are the KC Sisters.

The Grammys 2023: Best Song Written for Visual Media


Once again, all the songs in this category were unknown to me until yesterday. I also haven’t seen any of these movies, which kind of puts me at a disadvantage in judging the category.

“Be Alive,” from King Richard. Beyoncé and Darius Scott Dixson, songwriters; performed by Beyoncé:

“Carolina,” from Where the Crawdads Sing. Taylor Swift, songwriter; performed by Taylor Swift:

“Hold My Hand,” from Top Gun: Maverick. Bloodpop® and Stefani Germanotta, songwriters; performed by Lady Gaga (whose real name is Stefani Germanotta):

“Keep Rising,” from The Woman King. Angelique Kidjo, Jeremy Lutito and Jessy Wilson, songwriters; performed by Jessy Wilson featuring Angelique Kidjo:

“Nobody Like U,” from Turning Red. Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, songwriters; performed by 4*Town, Jordan Fisher, Finneas O’Connell, Josh Levi, Topher Ngo, and Grayson Villanueva:

“We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” from Encanto. Lin-Manuel Miranda, songwriter; performed by Gaitán—La Gaita, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Diane Guerrero, Stephanie Beatriz, and Encanto cast:

I have to say this is my favorite category yet. I absolutely love the first five songs. And all these videos are wonderful. I think it’s fair to say that the songs work very well in their movies (even though I haven’t seen them).

One stands out to me, though. I could not take my eyes off the video for “Nobody Like U.” I am guessing that the melding of story + song is perfect. I know that if I were still teaching, my elementary school students would all be singing this song. I hope it wins the Grammy. (My second choice would be “Carolina”–that song will haunt my dreams for sure. My third choice would be “Keep Rising.” What a great song! Fourth would be “Be Alive.” It fits Serena and Venus so well.)

Now it’s your turn. Which song do you think should win the Grammy, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

The Grammys 2023: Best Global Music Performance


Again, I never heard any of the songs in this category before this week. I’ve only heard of two of these performers before.

“Udhero Na,” Arooj Aftab and Anoushka Shankar. Shankar is the daughter of sitar royalty Ravi Shankar and a virtuoso in her own right. Arooj Aftab won the Grammy for Best Global Music Performance last year for “Mohabbat”:

“Gimme Love,” Matt B and Eddy Kenzo:

“Last Last,” Matt B and Eddy Kenzo:

“Neva Bow Down,” Rocky Dawuni featuring Blvk H3ro:

“Bayethe,” Wouter Kellerman (flautist), Zakes Bantwini (keyboardist), and Nomcebo Zikode (vocalist):

The musicianship in “Udhero Na” is phenomenal, but the intro is two minutes long, and keeps us waiting for Arooj Aftab’s voice. Despite the lovely rhythms in “Gimme Love,” the lyrics and melody are annoyingly monotonous. I love the syncopated rhythms in “Last Last.” I like the reggae vibe in “Neva Bow Down” and I like the message (but I find the video very intimidating).

In my opinion, “Bayethe” has it all–a polished performance, beautiful blend of instruments, great rhythm, and nothing that detracts from all that. I think “Bayethe” deserves the Grammy.

Now it’s your turn. Which song do you think should win the Grammy for Best Global Music Performance, and why? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Creative Juice #328

Creative Juice #328

Interesting stuff to read. Artistic stuff to love.