A climax of horrid sublimity – Kriegerische Töne in Joseph Haydns Musik

Klaus Aringer


Haydn lived in a time of omnipresent and continuous military conflict. The composer personally felt the effects of war especially in his last years and weeks of his life. Combing through Haydn’s thematic catalogue for works with connections in their titles to war or the military one finds few authentic pieces and several compositions attributed to him. Among the authentic works are two masses, which Haydn subtitled “in tempore belli” Hob. XXII:9 (1796) and “in angustiis” Hob. XXII:11 (1798),as well as a symphony with the appellation “Military” Hob. I:100 (1793/94), a name which refers to the second movement./p>

Both of the Masses stand out characteristically against the background of the traditional solemn late 18th-century settings by an expressly thematic treatment of the trumpets’ military references. In the “military movement” of the symphony except for the janissary music and the trumpet signal, which announces the great, terrifying orchestral outburst, Haydn avoids all naturalistic tone painting typical for the times. Beyond mere tone-painting, his composition moves into the point of focus that which 18th-century musicians considered to be the central category of affection, and at the same time provides a remarkable contribution to the contemporary aesthetic discussion on the dialectics of the Sublime and the Terrible./p>

In his late works, Haydn’s thematic treatment of war spreading menace, fear and terror is not so much through the use of unusual sounds or tone-painting, but rather through the drastic use of warlike implements in sound. The topic and the works examined cast a significant light on the aspect of instrumentation in Haydn’s late orchestra works. They prove too that Haydn was quite receptive to the events that shaked his times, unlike allegations to the contrary.  The contemporary martial references in his music were highly topical and were perceived by audiences as an artistic reaction relevant and related to the times.

Paul Constantinescu – parallel biographies

Ioana Raluca Voicu-Arnăuțoiu


The article records the petty persecution that marred the career of one of Romania’s foremost 20th century composer. Paul Constantinescu was teased by the pre-war legionnaire (fascist) press for his alleged Jewish roots, only to come later under suspicion of having been a sympathiser of his former persecutors. He ended up under close surveillance during the communist regime on the grounds of being “untrustworthy”, hostile to its ideology and cut off the masses. The author made use of archive material on Paul Constantinescu, including recently released files of the secret police.

Mendelssohns Virtuosität. Anmerkungen zu den Liedern ohne Worte

Thomas Kabisch


August Wilhelm Ambrose considers Felix Mendelssohn a true representative of XIXth Century modernity, a term politically defined by the July revolution, aesthetically by the "end of art", and in music by a new determination of the role of artists against the background of Saint-Simonism. Mendelssohn is the one able to surpass the classic conflict between the conservatives and the „Norddeutschen”. The german composer plays such a role, making a synthesis between absolute and poetic music. For Ambrose, the conflict between those two parties is a fatal symptom of a blockage in the music of the XIXth Century. The Mendelssohn problem is worth studying for the reason of what may be music when it does not lead to a mutual cancellation conflict of internal rationality and external world report. On the other hand, the dichotomy between the intrinsic musical and  the external dimensions related to music, always fatal in the Ambrose`s perspective, appear more and more in the discussion about music. As the compositional practice follows the same line, Mendelssohn’s work can be understood as criticizing the polar structure in the same way Ambrose’s bipolar argument did. As Robert Schumann says, Mendelssohn "best understood and was the first to reconcile" the contradictions of his era. The understanding and reconciliation of the opposite elements on the musical and structural levels can be demonstrated with some of his Songs without words. His compositions show how Mendelssohn consciously configures the conflict between the inner rationality of music and its connection with the public. He conceives his compositional technique aware of the eventuality that music would run out of impact, confined exclusively to its own internal means, and that music striving to expresion and the imaginative universe of the listeners could loose its specific potential. Two phenomena that occur in the Songs without words can be interpreted in this sense. First, Mendelssohn’s music is polyphonic even where is homophonous and this means that musical complexity is achieved also where the composition is simple. Second, Mendelssohn’s music reconciles musical discourse and musical expression, by means of places in the score that have a joint function between the immanent process and the associative horizons.

Download as PDF