Dwight Blazin.

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A Haydns' Microcosmos: Joseph's Borrowings from Michael...?

The occasion of composition of a well known series of early Symphonies by Joseph Haydn is still a blurred territory. Hence the difficulty in defining the story behind the Symphony Fire has been and still is the matter of study for many important Haydn specialists.

Fire?... Why Fire?
Composed in ca. 1768, this Symphony by Haydn was considered, for long time, (but not too convincingly) a music product written in connection with an Esterháza performance of a theatre play by Grossmann: Der Feuersbrunst (The Firestorm), ca. 1773. The gap of 5 years between the composition and the theatre performance is not convincing... Furthermore the discovery of a similar Symphony published, in ca. 1769, as Op. 10 No. 2 (now I:B2) and as a work by Joseph Haydn, created a rather complicated situation... because... because the first 2 movements of such Symphony I:B2 are certainly not by Joseph Haydn, but by his brother Michael Haydn... and the 3rd movement of I:B2 is practically an alternate version of the famous finale of the Symphony Fire by Joseph Haydn... (!?)

Hans Gàl re-discovers Haydn
Also Hans Gàl got interested in this Symphony I:B2 by Joseph Haydn and in 1938 published an edition of this Symphony as a re-discovered Symphony by Joseph Haydn and noticed, in particular, the similarity of the Finale of the Symphony Fire with the Finale of the I:B2 and thought that the Finale of the I:B2 was an early older version of the Symphony Fire... 

Michael Haydn: the shadow brother & the music publishers
At this point, Blazin opens an interesting chapter about the life of Michael Haydn, in particular, the lesser known early years, from the Vienna period to the beginning of his musical activity in Salzburg.
       A really striking fact about Michael Haydn's compositional work during this early period is his strange relationship with the music publishers, who evidently regularly received and accepted his scores with great interest,... but practically always published them under the name of his brother Joseph... (!?)

Haydn's Symphony Fire... Who really wrote what?

So: who really wrote what?
       Blazin suggests, on the basis of all the original documents available so far (also the autograph scores by Michael Haydn himself) and on a musical analysis of the 2 versions of the Finale we have, that:
       (A) Joseph Haydn may have re-worked an original version of this Finale written by his brother some years earlier (ca. 1763, the I:B2; in 1766 Michael re-writes I:B2, which now becomes MH82: first 2 movements identical but now a Minuet as Finale instead of the old fast one re-used by Joseph for the Fire), by exhibiting his compositional ability;
       (B) Michael Haydn then, aware of this new version by his brother, must have re-written his previous old Finale of I:B2 as a new 4 movement Finale (written in 1772) for his Symphony MH82 (which had been re-written in 1766);
       (C) so now the Symphony MH82 becomes a Symphony in 4 movements MH184;
       (D) on the basis of the Quartbuch and of a close stylistic analysis we may conclude that the archetype is the earlier version of this Finale as found in I:B2 and was probably composed by Michael Haydn even as early as 1763.

Mozart as borrower: he himself re-works Michael Haydn's material
It must be added that such strange ballet around Michael Haydn's music pieces is not a new fact to the scholars of Mozart's works, since the much unclear and confused story of Mozart's Symphony No. 37 K444 & Michael Haydn's Symphony MH334 is well known. Also on this occasion Mozart adds something by himself and then rapidly reworks Michael Haydn's music (but not so deeply as Joseph had done with Michael's Finale of I:B2/1763). And we can treat here what in Mozart's Requiem is a re-working of Michael Haydn's sacred music...
       Furthermore, the similarities between Joseph Haydn's Finale of his Symphony Fire and Mozart's Violin Concerto K207 (ca. 1773/1775) may give an idea how far this 1763 Finale of Michael Haydn's Symphony I:B2 has travelled throughout the years.
       Apparently Joseph Haydn was not a great borrower as Mozart was. We know, for example, that he certainly borrowed music and effects from von Dittersdorf's Giob...
       Nonetheless, both Joseph Haydn and Mozart, when borrowed music, actually just re-built a totally new structure on some material and... what more important, in a new style, their own... so to say, music à la Haydn and music à la Mozart...

Read the complete article by D. Blazin (

Haydn as Musical Borrower:
The Origin of the Finale to the Feuer Sinfonia Hob.I 59

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