I am not obsessive compulsive but I can be a wee obsessive about certain things. I searched for years for Twilight Zone episodes missing from my collection – lots of taping marathons looking for one here and one there – so that I could watch all 156 in original broadcast order, which I did over a two and a half year period starting in 2009 (geek obsession…that was the 50th anniversary year of its premiere). Now and then, I like to listen to the entire Rush, Pink Floyd and Beatles discographies in release order. As I like classical music, among many other collections, I’ve listened to all of Mozart’s symphonies in 2010 – in numerical order, of course. When a set of the Deutsche Grammophon Complete Beethoven Edition made its way to me, well, that took a while to get through, in disc order, also of course! So yes…obsessive. I was learning about Haydn in a lecture series (more on that) and wanted to hear more, so I went seeking.
Franz Josef Haydn lived for 77 years from 1732 to 1809. He was not a prodigy, developing as a composer much later than some of his contemporaries. But, boy did he develop! The mind-boggling body of work, attributed in some part to his 29 year tenure as court musician – Kapellmeister, or music director – to the Hungarian Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, is, well, mind-boggling.; once released from his contract by Nikolaus’ music averse son, Haydn continued to compose at an extraordinary pace until his health failed. Haydn’s influence on the classical form is extant.
You can learn a bit about Haydn here, but for a biographical treasure trove, I highly recommend Dr. Robert Greenberg’s eight part Great Courses lecture series, Great Masters: Haydn – His Life and Music. Dr. Greenberg is energetic, passionate and I learned nuances from Greenberg in some of the selected compositions that prompted an immediate revisit. I will ever be amazed at how the great masters not only composed, but scored, so many wonderful symphonic and chamber pieces in such short order – sometimes a piece per day!
I listened to all of Haydn’s 104 (or 106, depending on the classification) symphonies, and all of his piano sonatas and cello concertos, and all are beautiful. I will listen to them again, and I have more Haydn (his masses and operas in particular) to find and listen to, and I really want to find more of Greenberg’s lectures, but if you’ll excuse me, obsession calls and I have a huge Liszt to tackle next!