Vol. VIII No. 20 - Tuesday
May 19 - May 25, 2009



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

A commemoration of Franz Joseph Haydn - (Part 2)

New international online dance magazine is launched

New exhibition for young Lahu ceramic sculptor Winai Chaso

 

A commemoration of Franz Joseph Haydn - (Part 2)

In the second of two articles, we look at parts of the astonishing musical legacy of this great composer who died 200 years ago this month

Jai Pee
‘Papa Haydn’ – the grand old man of the late classical period of music and so-called father of the symphony – Franz Joseph Haydn - left an indelible mark on musical development that is as fresh today as when the music was written over 200 years ago.

Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 – 1809.

Whether Haydn deserved the title ‘father of the symphony’ or whether that title should be more aptly attributed to Beethoven is not a point I am going to argue here.  Let us be content with the fact that the current Haydn catalogues list 104 symphonies – which is quite a feat of composition in addition to all his other works and which alone merits the earlier title.
We do know that Haydn also wrote a number of other small orchestral works for various groups of instruments at the command of his patron – these being labelled divertimenti, cassations and the occasional sinfonia concertante – all of which could just as easily be labelled symphonies.  And we also know, from historical records, of the two serious outbreaks of fire at Esterhaz which destroyed many of his manuscripts – so who knows how many symphonies he did actually compose?
What we do know for sure is that within the strict numbering of the 104, there is a freshness and richness of musical ideas that have endeared so many of these works to the musical public.  It is thankfully quite common to encounter a Haydn symphony in so many of the orchestral concerts given around the world today - and how delightful and endearing they are.
In his earlier symphonies, Haydn began to develop and extend musical ideas and harmonies while sticking largely to the strict rules of the classical tradition – such things as the number of the movements, their ordering in terms of tempo and structure, as well as their length – and this was to continue right up until the final note of the last symphony, Number 104, The London.
But, remember that Haydn was a prankster at heart – and that teenage characteristic never really left him – nowhere is it more fully realized than in the beautiful and wistful final section of the Farewell Symphony, Number 45, where the pace of the final movement is reduced to adagio as the instruments cease playing one by one.
In the final flourish in the coda of the last movement of the London Symphony, Haydn cannot resist a cheeky little extension by inserting two lesser chords between the full tutti, almost like poking his tongue out!  And of course the second movement of the infamous Surprise Symphony, Number 94 with its fortissimo chord at the end of the first gentle exposition, purportedly ‘to startle the ladies from their slumbers’ needs no introduction.
But, that aside, Haydn was also inventive – he used traditional folk melodies carefully woven into his classical tapestry to reflect the essence of his roots – Symphony Number 103 contains a Croatian folk melody said to have originated in the area between Hainburg and Eisenstadt, and the final movement of Number 73, La Chasse, contains as its main theme a melody that is greatly akin to a Basque folk tune, a tune that could well have travelled across the continent.
The symphonies contain pathos (Numbers 39 and 44 for example), clucking hens (Number 83) and ticking clocks (Number 101) just to mention a few of the eccentricities of this marvellous man.  But above all they contain joy – as Victor Hugo wrote in his poem dedicated to Andre Chenier: ‘Ton chant ajouterait de la joie aux dieux memes’ (Your song would be adding to the joy of the Gods themselves’) – how appropriate this line is for Haydn also.
Haydn was also an opera composer – he wrote 13 in all that we know of.  This was a requirement from his patron Prince Nicholas Esterhazy – that he compose these for the newly built theatre in the grounds of Esterhaz, an opera house sadly destroyed by fire during Haydn’s residence there.  However, Haydn recognized that opera was not his forte – it is said that after becoming familiar with Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, he resigned himself to the fact that the operatic pinnacle had been achieved, and he held Mozart and his operatic writing in particular, in the highest esteem from then onwards.
There was a constant flow of arias and songs, including several arrangements of Welsh and Scottish songs that he had come across while in England.
Another great legacy of Haydn comes in his huge output of string quartets, many of them shining examples of classical form, and the inspiration for the later famous quartets of Mozart and the earlier quartets of Beethoven. The piano sonatas and trios are similar and helped pave the way for many composers in the future; Haydn wrote so many concerti for a wide range of instruments – cello, keyboard, cembalo, violin, trumpet, double bass, flute, horn, oboe and lyre.
Dances and marches abound; numerous small ensemble pieces litter his astonishing output, and just for good measure, he wrote no less than 32 Pieces for Musical Clocks from 1772 to 1793.  Religious works also abound – settings of the Stabat Mater and the Te Deum as well as graduals, canons, offertories and numerous motets.
Then come 14 grand settings of the Mass itself.  Many of these are standard in the choral repertory today and for those not familiar with these glorious pieces of music, why not start with the Lord Nelson Mass?  From the dramatically challenging opening of the Kyrie to the final beauty of the Agnus Dei, Haydn fills his canvas with a richness of harmony and colour that is exceptional.  The opening of the Gloria is magnificent with a heavenly melodic line given to the soprano that is outstanding in its beauty.
The magnificence of this Mass and others is surpassed only by his two great and almost final compositions, written very much under the influence of Handel following his two visits to London.
The two oratorios, The Creation and The Seasons, were both turn of the century masterpieces and they are such a fitting end to Haydn’s creative and inspirational life, since they were amongst the last pieces of music he wrote.  Haydn remained unquenched by the disappointment that he could no longer write music as he grew feebler in his old age.  Instead he displayed that quality that the French essayist Joubert has called ‘le plus beau de tous les courages – le courage d’etre heureux.’ (the finest of all the courages – the courage to be happy).
And so, on May 31st 1809, 200 years ago, the book closed on the last great Classical composer, leaving behind him a legacy of music that has inspired and enlightened composers and music lovers the world over, and which, I am sure, will continue to do so for the next 200 years.

 

New international online dance magazine is launched

Some of you may have realised (too late) that April 29 was International Dance Day … shame on you! However, for those of you interested in dance, the launch on the same day of www. asiadancechannel.com, the first online dance magazine in Asia, may certainly be of interest.
Founder of the new site, Choy Su-Ling, says that, “The USA, Europe and Australia all have online dance magazines, so why not Asia? The new site comprises an aggregate of the cultural heritage of many nationalities, societies, religions, and ethnic groups in the region, and fills the gap for rich Asian dance content, giving dance across the region the voice it deserves.”
AsiaDanceChannel does not only cover traditional and classical dance, but also contemporary, ballet, modern, jazz, Latin American and other dance forms practiced and enjoyed in Asia, together with dance reviews, interviews, event listings, and videos. Readers are able to plan ahead for shows and festivals not only in their own country but as they travel Asia. The magazine targets dancers and dance enthusiasts as those who have a general interest in culture and art, and hopes to convert those with no interest in dance into enthusiasts.
The website, small but interesting at present, promises enlargement and expansion; it will be interesting to see how it develops. With the increasing interest in all forms of dance (as well as traditional Thai dance) being shown here in Chiang Mai, it would be good to see some of our local exponents represented online.


New exhibition for young Lahu ceramic sculptor Winai Chaso

CMM Reporters
You may remember that, at the end of December last year, the Chiang Mai Mail reported on the first exhibition of an amazingly talented young Lahu ceramic sculptor, Winai Chaso, which took place at Chiang Rai’s Insii House, the home of Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz’s Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation, which exists to support, train, educated and mentor talented hill tribe children.

An elegant and truly contemporary feel is given to a traditional hill tribe subject in this beautiful example of Winai Chaso’s work.

The exhibition was a huge success, with several of Winai’s sculptures now in the private collection of the ex-King of Cambodia. As a result, Winai has been invited to hold another exhibition, this time in Phuket, at the creative lifestyle venue, ‘& Joy Gallery’ on the famous resort island. ‘People of the Hills’ will open over the weekend of May 23-24, and for anyone who would like to travel down from Chiang Mai for the occasion, this is truly a ‘Don’t Miss.’
Winai’s ceramic sculptures use a special firing process which results in a surface with a unique metallic appearance, making the traditionally inspired figures glow with gold, silver and copper, accentuating the original designs in an extraordinary and very effective manner. The technique, taught in Chiang Rai to Winai by French sculptor, Paul Beckrich, involves mixing enamels with various minerals and firing the pieces at carefully controlled temperatures. The results are stunning, combining the rare talent of this young hill tribe artist with the innovative effects of the process.
It’s no surprise that Winai’s art is now becoming more and more appreciated by collectors, both in Thailand and in Europe!



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