Composition, performance and publication of The Seasons quickly followed the resounding success of The Creation. The libretto, also provided by Baron von Swieten, was a fragmented adaptation of James Thompson’s epic poem, first published in the 1730s and which enjoyed broad popularity at the end of the century. The private premiere took place at the Schwarzenberg Winter Palace on April 24, 1801, and the public premiere took place in the Redoutensaal at the Hofburg Palace, on May 29 of that same year.
As the CLIR postdoctoral fellow in Data Curation for Medieval Studies at Stanford I work primarily with data about large collections of digitized manuscripts and fragments. For example, I have helped to make our teaching collections more easily discoverable in Searchworks. I've also been bringing together partner institutions' descriptive metadata to feed a specialized manuscript search environment.
In practice, I write code to transform batches of 70, 300, 500, or 1000+ manuscripts at a time: I've gotten very comfortable thinking of medieval manuscripts in the tens, hundreds, and even thousands. But the truth is that these large batches of digital-medieval manuscripts I curate are built of unique, single objects. Single objects that, just like the physical objects they grow from, are made by individual people, in particular environments, under specific institutional, financial, and social pressures.
In order to better understand the process that leads to the creation of a digital-medieval book, I recently followed the digitization of a fifteenth-century book of hours, Stanford University Libraries, M0379, from the request for digitization, through the slow hard work of taking the images and hours of post-production labor, to its arrival in Stanford Digital Repository (SDR).
What a time Haydn must have had during his London stays in the early 1790s! Already hailed as a great composer, and preceded by the performance and publication of numerous successful works including symphonies, string quartets, and works for keyboard, he was eagerly embraced by London society.
As reported in the Lady’s Magazine, January 1791:
“A remarkable circumstance happened this evening, in the ball-room at St. James's. Haydn, the celebrated composer, though he has not yet been introduced at our court, was recognised by all the royal family, and paid them his silent respects. Mr. Haydn came into the room with Sir John Gallini, Mr. Wills, and Mr. Salomon. The prince of Wales first observed him, and upon bowing to him, the eyes of all the company were upon Mr. Haydn, everyone paying him respect.”
Arianna a Naxos was first published by Artaria in Vienna in 1790, followed by this London edition printed for Haydn by John Bland and first offered for sale on June 10, 1791. Bland was instrumental in bringing Haydn to London, and provided Haydn’s first lodging there in January 1791. Bland had visited Haydn at Eszterháza. One day during Haydn’s grooming routine, he heard the composer complain about his dull razors. “I’d give my best quartet for a pair of good razors,” he exclaimed, upon which Bland raced back to his room, grabbed his new British razors, and presented them to Haydn. In exchange Bland received the manuscript for the Quartet, op. 55 No.2, the “Razor” Quartet. Or so the story goes. We do know that Bland took away the manuscript for Arianna and a contract to publish Haydn’s flute trios.
The Lieder were among the first works requested for publication by Haydn’s Austrian publisher, Artaria & Co., with whom he began a relationship at the end of the 1770s. Artaria announced publication of this first set of Lieder in December 1781 (the second set followed in 1784), possibly to coincide with the festivities surrounding the Grand Tour of Russian Grand Duke Paul (later Tzar Paul II) and his entourage, including the Count and Countess von Norden. Other works published around this time were the highly praised op. 33 quartets. Both the Lieder and the op. 33 quartets represent a break from Haydn's more studious earlier works; the tribute to laziness that is "Lob der Faulheit" (in the second set of Lieder) in particular, has been singled out for its wit and overall affect.
Goethe described the classical string quartet form as “four rational people conversing,” a type of discourse embodied in the quartets of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert. Haydn, perhaps more than any of his contemporaries, shaped the string quartet into the form we know today, moving away from the typical divertimenti solo with accompaniment, to four equal voices working out thematic material in (often lively) conversation. The complete set of parts featured here is a variant of the first edition of Haydn’s complete string quartets, dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, and known as the “Bonaparte Edition,” published by Maison Pleyel in Paris in 1803.
There are two important items in the Memorial Library of Music related to Haydn's Creation: a letter written by Haydn to his English friend Dr. Charles Burney (1726-1814), who helped Haydn arrange for the initial sale of the English-language edition of the full score; and one of the earliest copies of that score, which bears Haydn’s personal stamp on the title page. Burney is best known for his A General History of Music, (4 vols., 1776-89), a monumental publication that set a new standard for works on music history and historiography.