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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and entertaining...
After `In Search of Mozart' and `In Search of Beethoven' I didn't think a third composer would do the series justice, but Grabsky has done it again! With this understated and underrated composer he managed to create an enlightening and thoroughly enjoyable film for the connoisseur or novice alike. Grabsky takes us through the composer's life on an educational journey with...
Published 23 months ago by Samuel Hyne

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why longer films for Mozart and Beethoven than for Haydn?
Assessment based on two telephone conversations with Phil Grabsky of approximately 40 minutes each (August 13 and 21, 2012). This I felt advisable having listened to his interview on disc several times (this after having first studied the documentary itself in some detail).

Phil Grabsky's sincerity was without question and so I felt I should present him with...
Published 10 months ago by Wilberfalse


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and entertaining..., 10 Sep 2012
This review is from: In Search of Haydn [DVD] (DVD)
After `In Search of Mozart' and `In Search of Beethoven' I didn't think a third composer would do the series justice, but Grabsky has done it again! With this understated and underrated composer he managed to create an enlightening and thoroughly enjoyable film for the connoisseur or novice alike. Grabsky takes us through the composer's life on an educational journey with a sense of excitement and intrigue (despite Haydn's life lacking the zing that Mozart and Beethoven possessed). It doesn't take long before the viewer becomes genuinely fond of this respectful and likeable man. Excerpts of Haydn's pieces are played throughout by respected musicians which bring us an exciting feeling of the present, in addition to the scenes of absorbing cinematography with clips of Vienna, Esterhazy and the village where he grew up.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why longer films for Mozart and Beethoven than for Haydn?, 12 Sep 2013
This review is from: In Search of Haydn [DVD] (DVD)
Assessment based on two telephone conversations with Phil Grabsky of approximately 40 minutes each (August 13 and 21, 2012). This I felt advisable having listened to his interview on disc several times (this after having first studied the documentary itself in some detail).

Phil Grabsky's sincerity was without question and so I felt I should present him with some of my misgivings and to ask him a few pointed questions that could have explained his approach in presenting Haydn to us.

I have little to complain about in the flow of the narrative apart from the omissions in a few vital areas, notably the great fire at Eszterháza in 1779, with its disastrous consequences in the destruction of property, including valuable musical instruments and music scores. In addition the early, formative years might have been given more serious treatment. (See bellow in respect of time allocation compared to the films on Mozart & Beethoven.)

Further omissions:

Younger brother Michael (Haydn). The Mozart connection, eg. Symphony No. 37 Mozart/Haydn.M.

The friendship with Mozart (unique in the history of music) - the "Haydn" quartets. Reciprocal influences. Haydn acknowledged Mozart's Operatic skills just as Mozart learned from Haydn's contrapuntal dexterity.

Before departing for London on 15 December 1790, Haydn spent the day with Mozart in Vienna. Mozart demonstrated a premonition of his own impending premature death: "I fear, father, that this will be our last farewell".

Generally more attention to the period from 1790 (including the death of Mozart and any possible impact upon Haydn) up to 1801. Haydn's support of Constanze Mozart and her son following the death of Mozart.

Relationship with Beethoven should have been expanded. A coolness, sometimes in excess from Beethoven who played down Haydn's influence compositionally.

Journey to England - the tempestuous Channel crossing - "The Storm"

In England visit to William Herschel (musician and astronomer) near Bath The Creation (influences: The Messiah).

Friendship with Marianna von Genzinger (died 1793) Sym. 99/II.

Friendship with Mrs Rebecca Shroeter in London (Sym 102/II)

Orchestration in The Creation and The Seasons: use of trombones etc.

The SIX LATE MASSES an annual requirement from the Prince for the Name Day of the Princess.

The Second TE DEUM in C major.

Death of Haydn's wife in 1800.

The late song settings. Folksongs arrangements for Thomson in Edinburgh 1795 - 1804/5

The two final Masses. (Demonstrating that Haydn was not "entirely" without inspiration after the two oratorios.)

The final years and the agony of inventive impulse stifled by physical and mental fatigue.

(Haydn's masterly, inventive and prolific output in later years was just as phenomenal in its way as the flowering of early genius in the case of Schubert, Mendelssohn and Mozart himself.)

*****

In view of the above, I wanted to know why Grabsky had devoted only 102 minutes(*) to the documentary on F J Haydn and to have him explain his modus operandi. It would appear that many of his sources derived from the previous presentations on Mozart and Beethoven. I asked why he had not approached the Haydn Society of G.B. without receiving a precise answer.

However, I must make it clear that the issue of funding was central to these discussions.

There appeared to be a number of additional restraints, some based on a hunch, I felt, that audiences might become restless with a longer presentation. (There was also the suggestion that with a shorter piece a greater number of cinema performances could be "squeezed in", a proposition I found somewhat fatuous and in a sense contradictory.)

And so, I further explored the possible reasons why longer films might be acceptable for Mozart and Beethoven, but not for Haydn. I am still not sure that I have fully grasped Phil's explanation! Yes, there were limitations based on funding, as we have said, but this was only part of the story. There seemed to be some apprehension that the available material would not "hold up" or fill the space. This I could not go along with: if not enough biographical material (as we have indicated, much more might have been gleaned at little or no extra cost) then there is plenty of music from Haydn "the unknown" (Tovey) that could have been presented in an inspiring way so as to hold the audiences' attention.

In this area I had the impression that more preparatory work should have been done although, again, of course, I recognise the constraints in terms of both time and funding.

Next, having secured the services of two excellent interpreters of Haydn, namely the Endellion String Quartet and the The Orchestra of the 18th Century with Frans Brüggen, I was interested to know how much flexibility Grabsky had in the selection of works. It would appear that he was guided by the performers themselves. I then queried the predominance of slow movments in the documentary (another area raised by Tony Hodgson in his review). Why, for example, in the case of Symphony No. 82 ("The Bear"--nickname not mentioned) give an extract from movement II rather than movement IV in which the "drone" or "bagpipes" effect could be used to make a point? True we had part of the envigorating finale to argueably the finest of the Paris set, namely No. 86, (also featured separately on disc) but the comments from Norrington in this "frame" focussed on No. 85 "La Reine". Where the London Symphonies are concerned I can only reiterate Tony Hodgson's comments in his review**. (Suggestion: Symphony No. 96, first movement, illustrating Haydn's monothematicism.)

An important and dramatic component to the London Symphonies is the introduction of the minor mode in some of the slow movements commencing with Symphony No. 96 (if we assume this work predates No's 93 and 94). Therefore, how effective it would have been if the slow movement from No. 101 (exampled in the film) could have been allowed to run into the minor mode section of the movement.

I gave several examples where a more effective use of the orchestra might have been made.
Again, more preparation might have gone towards securing effective selections. (The "farewell" episode should have been mentioned in the narrative, as indeed it was, but perhaps a short, complete movement from a symphony of the period--the finale from No. 41, for example, might have grabbed (no pun intended) the audiences' attention more effectively, as well as illustrating our point (Tony Hodgson's and mine) respecting the use of trumpets and drums in the C major symphonies.

The late Trumpet Concerto, and one of the earlier Cello Concertos in C major, were both given fitting treatment, but as for the late song settings? Not a squeak! Why?

It was clear that Grabsky would have liked to feature visual "shots" of massed voices in the choral works but that funding prohibited this. He clearly had a high regard for the late masses but restricted himself to a short extract from the Mass in Time of War (Missa in tempore belli or Paukenmesse). Here, surely, it would have been more effective to start with the Agnus Dei and its dramatic trumpet call leading into the Dona, rather than to give us the fugal Amen?

I was particularly interested to learn why a good deal of time was given to the solo keyboard works and to opera. (Some of the comments by the soprano on Haydn's writing for her range I found misleading; she clearly had not sung in the late Masses!) For many of my students who saw the film the keyboard representation came close to being a "turn off". Watching the B minor sonata performed on a modern piano is not the best way to illustrate Haydn's mastery of the evolving pianofortes of Broadwood et al such as we have in the late keyboard trios. So why not, for instance, ask the Florestan Trio to give us a taste of Hob.XV:27 (finale?) in addition to the sample from Hob. XV:20?

But surely one of the most noteworthy omissions was a more thorough expansion of the short extract from the F minor Variations for piano solo Hob.XVII: 6 that could have been used not only to demonstrate the double variation Haydn specialism, but also to draw attention to the composer's mastery of variation form that features so strongly in many of his other compositions, notably the symphony and the string quartet.

The importance of Haydn's contribution to the evolution of the string quartet was too fragmentary in my opinion (again I concur with Tony Hodgson). The essence of Haydn is indeed to be found in the slower movements of many of the string quartets. This was demonstrated in the short extract from the Quartet Op. 54/2. But some comment was due, surely? ". . . there is no more original Haydn quartet, nor any that contains more prophetic innovations, than the second "Tost" Quartet . . ." (The Great Haydn Quartets: Hans Keller.) So let us enlarge on this fact and give the viewer/listener another taste of the profound Haydn with, perhaps, the slow movement (Largo cantabile e mesto) from Op76/5, or the slow movement from the "Rider" itself.

We had some comparisons with Beethoven taken from Haydn's late C major piano (fortepiano) sonata; it would have been instructive to show just how much Beethoven had from Haydn in the genre of the quartet, a form that Haydn brought to perfection virtually single-handed. There was a brief extract from the finale of the G maj/min Quartet Op 74/3 ("Rider"), but we are denied the full details beyond a short notice in print. More instructive, in our opinion, would have been to give a stronger representation from Op 76 or Op 77. (Perhaps Op. 76/6 "scherzo" in addition to Op. 71/1 first movement already included.)

I would also have made the point somewhere in the narrative that the "nicknamed" works are not necessarily the most interesting or the most accomplished.

I hope, perhaps, to have demonstrated that there is sufficient material here to fill 130 minutes or so without stretching the budget strings or introducing a "note" of tedium--on the contrary.

At the end of our discussions I was convinced that Phil Grabsky had discovered the true Haydn for himself, but I still have my doubts as to whether his production will point many waverers in the right direction.

Addendum:

(*)Factual: Haydn 102 minutes compared to 124 minutes for Mozart and 139 minutes for Beethoven. Consider, in The New Grove the article on F J Haydn is given on 79 pages, Mozart on 72 pages and Beethoven 59 pages (text in double columns). Moreover, Haydn lived to the ripe old age of 77 years, whereas Mozart died aged 35 and Beethoven died aged 57 years.

** Tony Hodgson's comments in his review for the Haydn Society of G.B.

Footnote.

I ask myself why it is that a composer of so-called classical music, namely Franz Joseph Haydn, could be hailed as the greatest living composer at the close of the 18th Century and yet require vigorous resuscitation in our times in order to present the man as the equal of Mozart and Beethoven. Is it just a question of changing fashions or has Haydn simply been misrepresented latterly, or what . . .?

Before we go any further perhaps we should look at the prerequisites for celebrity status (for it may be reasonable to regard Beethoven and Mozart as celebrities in their day in a way that Haydn was not?).

Of course the basis for our analysis will make several assumptions not least the universal criteria applicable, or not, in two periods separated by two centuries. (Today's media dissemination via radio and television into the earlobes and eyes sockets of billions knew no parallel in Haydn's time.)

And so, who is likely to figure more prominently in the people's esteem or perception, the craftsman or the virtuoso? I submit that our preoccupation with celebrities has forced the craftsman into the background. In music, for example, both Mozart and Beethoven, as instrumental virtuosi (and Mozart in particular having been a child prodigy on keyboard if not on violin) will appeal more to the masses than a Bach or a Haydn (both acknowledged as among music's greatest craftsmen). And the personal circumstance of early death (in the case of Mozart) and the progressive deafness and premature death, in the case of Beethoven, cannot be ignored as appealing to the public's imagination. (A cosseted child prodigy, Mozart, compared to the physical hardships of the young, diligent Haydn?)

Johannes Brahms, for example, represents a happy synthesis of the two: a virtuoso pianist emerging from many hardships in early life into a fine craftsman (with overtones in his personal life - the Schumann connections). But I suspect it is the craftsmanship in the case of Brahms that makes him the staple diet of the contemporary music scene at all levels from instrumentalists and musicologists to the "passive" listener. So, why not Haydn? Could it be that there are as many ill-informed musicians on Haydn today as was Robert Schumann when he declared that Haydn had little to offer the musician of his day? Could it be the fault of the impresario? Could it be the fault of the musicologists? (Ref: H. C. Robbins Landon Mozart's 1791 Last Year, preface, final page. Is this a fair or reasonable representation of Haydn in relation to Mozart as a man and as a musician?)

And so on . . .

[Extract from a lecture entitled What IS classical music? (JCV 2012)]

JCV
12/08/24
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good overview of F J Haydn, 30 Nov 2012
By 
Duncan Rose "Dunk" (Billingborough, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search of Haydn [DVD] (DVD)
This is a thorough review of the life of F J Haydn.
Various experts comment and perform some of Haydn's best pieces.
I dropped 1 star as it doesn't have an overly professional finish to the package (i.e. fonts used on persons names etc. are quite pixelated).
I think 15 (as I paid) is too high. 10 would be fair or 5 a bargain!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In search of Haydn, 1 May 2013
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Dr. R. Jameson (Liverpool England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search of Haydn [DVD] (DVD)
An informative and illustrative minature biography of Haydn and his employment by the nobility of the Ausrto Hungarian Empire especially by the Esterhazy family. The palaces in which he worked and some of the lesser known compositions are shown. Worth buying and enjoying the places with the music
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Impressive Entertainer, 21 Jun 2013
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search of Haydn [DVD] (DVD)
I am presently working my way through all of Haydn's symphonic repertoire. I started with his first symphony in January 2012; at present (June 2013) I am up to Symphony No.61. It was therefore pertinent for me to purchase this disc, since Haydn appears to have had a bad deal when it comes to books and documentaries about him and his music. Besides, I had already purchased, seen, and reviewed Phil Grabsky's previous documentaries in this series, `In Search of Mozart' and `In Search of Beethoven'.

Viewers of these other films will be pleased/annoyed that he maintains the same format in this one on Haydn, namely telling Haydn's story through narration by Juliet Stevenson and interweaving this with talking heads, many of whom appeared in the earlier films. These include historians, musicologists, conductors, pianists, curators, cellists, singers, trumpeters, and a violinist. Many provide interesting insights into the man and his music. I particularly enjoyed Ronald Brautigam's assertion that whereas Mozart and Beethoven wanted to impress, Haydn wanted to entertain.

The film reprises much of Haydn's output but there is no placing it in context, such as his place in developing the symphony into the classical form. From where did Haydn get his ideas? Which composers did he ape or admire? There is no note of Haydn's direct contemporaries. Did he get on well with his fellow-musicians, his employers? We do not even know if he ever had any friends. In that regard, then, this is an inward-looking film.

I find it amazing that barely five minutes into the programme we have already arrived at the adult Haydn. The composer's formative years are given barely a cursory glance. Very little is mentioned about his relations with his mother and father as a child, and not a word is said about his composer-brother Michael, or his tenor-brother Johann.

After visiting his birthplace in Rohrau, we then go on to visit the major places in his life: Vienna, Eisenstadt, and Esterhaza. Haydn did not travel as far or as often as Mozart, but it is nevertheless strange that the places he stayed in and visited on his trips to England are absent. A few errors also creep in: Vienna was not in Haydn's time the capital of the `Austro-Hungarian Empire', nor would Austria be fighting Napoleon at the time of his composing the `Mass in Time of War'.

Congratulations then to Phil Grabsky for taking on Haydn as the next instalment in his series when he might have chosen someone more famous, and thanks to Grabsky too for facilitating some insight into the man and his music. But the film still leaves many questions unanswered: after watching this DVD twice, Haydn remained to me as mysteriously private, undervalued, and little-known as before. I had hoped he would complete the Viennese series by doing Schubert next, but I understand Chopin is the choice.

The extras include a revealing twenty-five minute `interview' with the director, as well as complete performances of many of the extracts of Haydn's work that appear in the film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic film, 15 May 2014
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This review is from: In Search of Haydn [DVD] (DVD)
I used this film with a group of about a dozen people at my local University of the Third Age to introduce the life and work of the composer - they simply loved it and found it gave them a great insight to this important composer. The photography is great, especially some of the close work - showing some of the technicalities of string playing for example.

A particularly interesting feature was the use of historians as well as musicians to provide the content - often 'composer films' rely of musicians. Historians give an added dimension. And needless to say, the musical exales were first rate!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD OVERVIEW OF HAYDN AND HIS MUSIC, 2 Aug 2013
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This review is from: In Search of Haydn [DVD] (DVD)
I really enjoyed the double disc I bought of the two earlier films in this series (on Beethoven and Mozart). The style here is the same, I'd describe it as classy BBC2 documentary. The interviews with the musicians are a highlight, their passion for the music is wonderful. Having said that they generally strain a bit when it comes to their praise of Haydn. The word 'genius' was freely bandied around in the two earlier films but no one can quite bring themselves to apply that word to Haydn. I'd give the Beethoven film in this series 5 stars, the Mozart 4/5 and the Haydn 4 (but that's probably got more to do with how I rate the composer than the films themselves).
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In Search of Haydn [DVD]
In Search of Haydn [DVD] by Phil Grabsky (DVD - 2012)
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