Vol. VIII No. 19 - Tuesday
May 12 - May 18, 2009



Home
Automania
News
Book-Movies-Music
Columns
Community
Art, Music & Culture
Happenings
Dining Out & Entertainment
Features
Social Scene
Travel & Tourism
Reflections
Daily Horoscope
Cartoons
Happy Birthday HM Queen Sirikit
Current Movies in
Chiangmai's Cinemas
Advertising Rates
Classifieds
Back Issues
Updated every Tuesday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Art, Music & Culture • Entertainment • Lifestyles
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

A commemoration of Franz Joseph Haydn – died May 31 1809

An die Musik – a song recital by Ong-Ard Kanchaisak

Dugong population under threat from commercial fishing

 

A commemoration of Franz Joseph Haydn – died May 31 1809

Jai Pee
In the first of two articles, Jai Pee looks at the extraordinary life and character of this great composer. In the second article, to be published shortly, Jai Pee will examine parts of the astonishing musical legacy of this modest man who died 200 years ago this month.

Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 - 1809
Franz Joseph Haydn was born on March 31 1732 in the small rural town of Rohrau, a few kilometres from Vienna in Austria. His family was originally from the delightful little walled town of Hainburg on the Danube, some distance downstream from Vienna and a fortress against the invaders from Turkey. The young Haydn was sent to his first school here at the age of 5, and this is where he had his first musical experience – it was Rogation week in 1738 and the drummer who was to have taken an essential part in the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament suddenly fell ill. The only replacement that could be found was the diminutive Haydn. A drum was hastily invented by using a discarded flour tin wrapped in a cloth hoisted on to the back of a dwarf, with Haydn marching behind striking the tin with a wooden stick to mark time! He even wore a wig for the occasion! Haydn is said to have remarked afterwards: ‘My kinsmen looked upon me thereafter as a potential musician’. Well, if that was true, it was certainly most prophetic!
Haydn was no genius – in fact he was little more than average but he did excel in music more than in any other subject – but even that was an uphill struggle – there are numerous anecdotes of his labours every night to learn the clavier and the violin, neither of which he mastered until much later in his life. At the age of 8, he was fortunate to obtain a position in the prestigious choir of St. Stephen’s cathedral in Vienna. Vienna was still the focus of musical life in that part of the world, fostered by the great Empress of the Hapsburg Empire, Maria Theresa. Music thrived and Haydn was exposed to great names such as Pergolesi, Gluck and CPE Bach.
The teenage Haydn was a prankster and that aspect of his life led circuitously to a change in his fortunes and later was reflected in some of his musical compositions. While still in the choir, aged 17, he was partly responsible for cutting off the pigtail of one of his fellow choristers. Rather than take the punishment, he fled the cathedral forever. Another little incident was where a popular Viennese comedian asked Haydn to write a comic opera for him – Haydn obliged, but made a great play of enlarging one of the fun characters, often nicknamed ‘Simple Simon’ – this enlarged character was later to emerge as Papageno in Mozart’s masterful opera, The Magic Flute.
Haydn was now beginning to compose music regularly and one night played a famous trick right in the centre of the most aristocratic part of Vienna. He arranged for a series of musicians to play some of his melodies on a bridge on the Tiefer Graben – but unknown to each player, he had given them different melodies to play – the result was total cacophony with windows opening and calls for the police to be summoned to quell this disturbance of the peace! Haydn got away with it and these incidents and curious sense of humour later helped endear him to his great patron, Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, whose mother he had met some years earlier. Haydn became his official composer in residence at his castle in Eisenstadt some 50 kilometres south of Vienna and was to remain there from the age of 29 for almost 30 years.
Prince Nicholas was a great patron of the Arts and he commissioned enormous quantities of music from Haydn in addition to the hectic schedule of conducting, teaching and rehearsing. Prince Nicholas had built a summer residence named Esterhaz close to the village of Fertod in what is now Hungary. Here, Nicholas, a devoted servant of Marie Therese, entertained endlessly, with Haydn obliged to provide all the music. A splendid opera house was built in the grounds where many first performances of Haydn operas took place. Sadly, this opera house burnt down, but in conversation with the current Prince Esterhazy some 3 years ago, I learnt that there are plans to rebuild.
It was here that the famous Farewell Symphony was composed. The Prince had decreed that the orchestra which had traveled from Eisenstadt was not to be accompanied by any of their families. Haydn once again used his prankster-like initiative to compose a piece which contained a movement where all the instruments stopped playing, one after the other, with the players packing up and walking off stage, a hint that they wanted to go home and see their families for the festive season. The ploy worked – Prince Nicholas enjoyed the joke and allowed all the orchestra, including Haydn, to go home.
When Prince Nicholas died in 1790, Haydn was left a small but decent pension; the Prince’s son, who cared little for music but needed to keep up appearances, retained Haydn in a part-time capacity, releasing the composer from much of his arduous composition and performance schedules. Haydn, now aged 58, spent a great deal of time as a celebrity in Vienna, enjoying the fame his music had brought him. He had first met his great contemporary Mozart nine years earlier and recognized then what a true genius his friend was – but Mozart never belittled Haydn and one mark of respect was that Haydn was the only person Mozart invited to the dress rehearsal of Cosi fan Tutte in 1790.
Haydn composed now for pleasure rather than as a duty, and was still as prolific as ever. In 1791, he was invited by the impresario Salomon to London where he was an instant success. He entered the very cautious and restricted world of fashionable London society, was much admired for his music and his wit, and composed the first set of London Symphonies for the occasion. Returning home a year later, he called in at Bonn where he met Beethoven for the first time. He returned again to London in 1794 (no mean feat for a 62 year old to undertake the 17 day journey) and was once again accepted into the musical circles with great acclaim, taking with him the second set of London Symphonies, which were as big a success, if not bigger, than the first set.
He made a triumphant return to Vienna a year later, where his music was being performed to great acclaim and fervent admiration. In London he had become familiar with the music of Handel, and this influenced the two majestic and monumental oratorios he was to compose at the turn of the century – The Creation and The Seasons. Both stand as great pillars of musical composition ushering in the new century. But this was the beginning of the end for Haydn – he wrote little else despite many requests to do so – and gradually became more and more feeble, making his final public appearance at a performance of The Creation in Vienna in 1808. During the interval, he had to be escorted home. Friends and admirers were heard to remark that this might be the last time he would be seen in public. Among those admirers was one Ludwig van Beethoven, who knelt at his feet, and kissed him on his forehead and hands. Haydn never ventured out again and, with Vienna under siege from the French armies, cannon shot landed very close to his house in May 1809 – he never recovered from the shock of the noise and died peacefully a day later on the last day of May 1809 at the age of 77, a fact remarkable in itself at that time in history. He left the world a richer and brighter place; he was modest about his achievements, but today we all are so much in his debt for the beautiful and happy music that is so much part of his musical legacy.

 

An die Musik – a song recital by Ong-Ard Kanchaisak

Jai-Pee
The delightful home of celebrated baritone and teacher Book Kitavadhana was the setting for a recital of wonderful songs by Ong-ard Kanchaisak, Chiang Mai’s amazing countertenor. This diminutive young man with his strong and penetrating voice enchanted the 25-strong audience in a varied and most interesting repertoire containing some of the world’s loveliest melodies. Ong-ard was in fine voice throughout. He coped admirably with the expressive and lyrical passages in the first two English songs by Vaughan-Williams and Quilter. Both were sung with feeling and tenderness and the passages were beautifully rounded and phrased. His pure angelic voice soared majestically at times and captivated the attentive and respectful audience. Three songs by Brahms were sung with significant depth of feeling, and although these particular songs are on the gloomy side, Ong-ard’s voice contained that mellowness and tenderness that somehow transcended the melancholy to provide us with a sensitive and polished interpretation in these difficult pieces of music. After a short interval, we were truly in the salons of the nineteenth century with piano music by Debussy followed by one of his songs, a second by Fure and then the famous Plaisir d’Amour by Martini. All of these were delivered with seeming effortlessness, firm voice control, and some intriguing vocal embroidery in the final bars of the Martini song that added a truly professional touch.
However, Ong-ard’s skill and mastery really came into its own when he sang three songs by Schubert in the first half, all of them performed with poise, elegance and colour and especially in An die Musik, with a deep richness of vocal texture that wholly embodied both the sensitivity of the lyrics and the emotion of the melody in this magnificent song. Equally, Ong-ard gave us uplifting performances of songs by Hahn and Satie and he ended this extraordinarily beautiful recital with Hahn’s famous Parisian salon favourite, Si Mes Vers Avaient Des Ailes, set to the evocative poetry of Victor Hugo. Part of the excitement of the evening was definitely enhanced by the choice of music – all too often, countertenors restrict us to a world of religious medieval music, some of it quite insipid and at times dreary and repetitive. Ong-ard led us along a delightfully different path, showing us just how versatile this unique voice can be, by adapting original scores in this rich and varied choice of songs. His interpretations of these were also admirable in that he allowed the feeling, sensitivities and passion to radiate from beginning to end. There can be no doubt that we have a real treasure here in our midst. And similarly, there can be no doubt that such a successful and entertaining soiree as this depends in no small part to the accompanist, Santi Saentong, whose Music School promoted the evening. Santi played with great understanding and deep passion, balanced by lyrical sensitivity when required. He never drowned the voice and was always most attentive to its variations of volume and rhythm. What a perfect duo these two accomplished musicians make! The great British accompanist of some 40 years ago, Gerald Moore, entitled his autobiography ‘Am I Too Loud?’, a thought being given to the real problems of supporting the main artist. Santi was never too loud, so that the splendid, penetrating and unique voice of Ong-ard could be relished and times even felt in the pleasant confines of the salon, which served as an excellent venue for such an event.


Dugong population under threat from commercial fishing

Thailand’s dugong population is now under threat. Trawling and fishing by push net has caused a dramatic and continuous decline in the marine animal’s population. According to official statistics, more than 10 dugongs have died over the past 4 months as a result of commercial fishing.
The autopsy of a 40-year-old male dugong in Thailand’s Satun province clearly showed the animal did not die from illness or infection. Instead, the edema in its chest helped confirm the dugong had struggled to survive so hard it finally died of shock.
A marine biologist at Phuket Marine Biological Centre, who performed the autopsy, believed fishing tools were the culprit.
“Although there’s no wound on its body caused by a fishing tool, there are traces inside the body, which indicate the dugong suffered a serious shock. For instance, an edema in pericardium and a blood clot in the torso. These traces were believed to be from a fishing tool,” said Phaothep Cherdsukjai, a marine biologist.
Phuket Marine Biological Centre said commercial fishing, namely by trawler and push net, is directly resulting in a sharp drop in the dugong population, as well as other endangered species such as sea turtles.
Illegal fishing within restricted area of 3,000 meters from the shoreline causes the large animals to be trapped in a net, unable to push themselves up to breathe on the sea’s surface, which finally ends in their death.
“If illegal fishing persists, within the next 10 to 20 years, endangered marine species including dugongs and sea turtles would become extinct in the Thai ocean,” said Phaothep.
Construction of wharves, owing to growth of tourism, is also impacting on the survival of sea grass which is the dugong’s source of food. If no immediate measures are taken by the government, the dugong might become a thing of the past in Thai waters. (TNA)



Chiangmai Mail Publishing Co. Ltd.
189/22 Moo 5, T. Sansai Noi, A. Sansai, Chiang Mai 50210
THAILAND
Tel. 053 852 557, Fax. 053 014 195
Editor: 087 184 8508
E-mail: [email protected]
www.chiangmai-mail.com
Administration: [email protected]
Website & Newsletter Advertising: [email protected]

Copyright © 2004 Chiangmai Mail. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.