HAYDN, MOZART AND PLEYEL: RIVALRY AND INTERINFLUENCES

Abstract:

Ignaz Pleyel was one of the talented and extraordinarily popular composers of his time. At least twice in his life he could instill a sense of rivalry in his eminent contemporaries—Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This gave birth to several most interesting instrumental works of the 18th century, i.e., the “Haydn” Quartets by Mozart and the Sinfonia Concertante in B flat major by Haydn.

Mark Evan Bonds has convincingly shown that the “forefather” of the genre was not the only person involved in the three out of six Mozart’s quartets dedicated to Haydn. When composing his works, Mozart made himself familiar with Pleyel’s Quartets Oр. 1 written according to the model of Haydn’s works. Mozart, to all appearances, decided to surpass Pleyel.

Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante in B flat major was composed during the creative competition with Pleyel in London. It was organized by rival impresarios Johann Peter Salomon and Wilhelm Kramer. The composition was Haydn’s answer to similar works by his ex-pupil Pleyel—Sinfonia Concertante in F major and Sinfonia Concertante in A major. However, where Mozart was an absolute winner leaving behind not entirely independent quartet experiments of his rival, the competition between Haydn and Pleyel ended in a “draw”. The London concert symphonies of both composers are marked by the maturity of style, beautiful melodism, compositional creativity as well as the harmonic balance of virtuosic solo parts and orchestral monumentalism.

Pleyel was instrumental in the very existence of certain works by Mozart and Haydn. However, both of them also influenced his style. This is especially true of Pleyel’s interpretation of the sonata form. In the first quartets he relied on Haydn’s model with the variant transformation of the main theme, then, however, he resorts to Mozart’s model with its thematic plurality, combinatorics, and thematic and structural parallels with the Italian opera arias. Pleyel’s symphonies concertante are the extreme of similarity to Mozart’s form.

Nagina article 2021-2

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НАГИНА Дана Александровна – кандидат искусствоведения, доцент кафедры аналитического музыкознания Российской академии музыки имени Гнесиных

Dana A. NAGINA is a Candidate of Art Studies, Associate Professor of the Analytical Musicology Department, Gnessins Russian Academy of Music

E-mail: dana.nagina@mail.ru

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