Haydn and Ellington

In what he dubbed “a musicological jeu d’esprit”, Edward Green drew 25 parallels between the lives of Joseph Haydn and Duke Ellington in “Haydn and Ellington: Parallel lives?” (International review of the aesthetics and sociology of music XL/2 [December 2009] pp. 349–51). These include:

  • Both had an outstanding orchestra at their immediate disposal for decades. This meant that they wrote for individuals, not just for instruments, and enabled the striking timbral and contrapuntal risks that they felt safe taking.

  • Both helped to create the predominant musical style of their century, and were celebrated in their lifetime for having done so.

  • Despite the necessity of producing numerous occasional works, both took an experimental attitude to composing, striving for freshness of form, design, and content, and their styles changed and developed remarkably over their careers.

  • Both had a notoriously keen business sense.

Today is Haydn’s 270th birthday! Below, Baryton Trio Valkkoog performs the Adagio and Finale Fuga from Haydn’s “Birthday” trio, Hob.XI:97, composed for the birthday of  Prince Nikolaus Esterházy.

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