Haydn in America
In November of 2009, amid wind and rain, the New Esterházy Quartet met in the sanctuary of St. David of Wales Church in Richmond, California, to record three Haydn quartets. The attentive listener can hear a bit of the wild weather in the background. In the foreground, however, is a fascinating story of Haydn in 18th century America. We played these quartets from copies of parts found in the Archives of the Moravian Music Foundation in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which preserve thousands of pieces of music used in religious services and community music-making by members of the Moravian Brotherhood, music-loving Christian settlers descended from the persecuted followers of the 15th century dissenter and martyr Jan Hus. The Moravians brought with them to their settlements in the New World their disciplined life-style, their joy in music-making, and their meticulous record-keeping, which have allowed us to play from parts used in America over two centuries ago.
Op. 2, No. 6 we played from the London edition published by Bremner as Op. 1, No. 6, originally from the collection of the Salem, North Carolina, Collegium Musicum; Op. 17, No. 4 from a hand-copy by Abraham Levering for the Lititz, Pennsylvania, Collegium Musicum; and Op. 77, No. 2 from the 1802 edition published in Leipzig by Breitkopf & Härtel, also from the Salem Collegium Musicum. These copies and early editions differ in many interesting details from the various modern editions currently available, and our attempts to distinguish legitimate variations from simple errors of the pen or the engraver’s stylus led to many long and fruitful discussions.
Formed in San Francisco in 2006, the New Esterházy Quartet is the first quartet in America to perform all of Haydn’s Quartets on period instruments. To read more about the Quartet, their concerts and recordings, consult Newesterhazy.org