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Joseph HAYDN, portrait fait par le peintre J.B. Grundmann en (?)1768(?), le plus ancien portrait connu
Étiquette versoo du disque Nonesuch H-1101
Étiquette recto du disque Nonesuch H-1101

Joseph HAYDN
Symphonie No 48 en do majeur
Orchestre de Chambre de la Sarre
24 novembre 1955, Studio II, Saarlouis

Joseph Haydn composa cette symphonie entre 1768 et 1769. Cité des notes historiques de Howard Chandler ROBBINS LANDON, Buggiano Castello, mai 1972, publiées dans le livret du coffret de disques LONDON STS 15249--54:"[...] Authentic MS. parts in the Castle of the Counts Zay von Csomor, Zay-Ugrécz (now Uhrovec, Slovakia), copied by Joseph Elssler and with the pencilled date 1769 and “Inter Difficillima N II’ on the title page. [...] The watermarks of the Joseph Elssler copy are similar to those in a Michael Haydn Church Aria in the Esterházy Archives at Eisenstadt dated 1771. The work was entered in the «Entwurf-Katalog» in the midst of symphonies composed in or about 1772. [...]"

Sur l'histoire de cette symphonie et de son surnom, toujours cité des passionantes notes de Howard Chandler ROBBINS LANDON:

"[...] Scoring: 2 oboes, 2 horns in C alto and F, (timpani?) and strings, to which a bassoon, has been added as part of the continuo. It was supposed that this brilliant, nervous Symphony had been composed and performed by Haydn to honour the visit of the Empress Maria Theresa to Eszterháza Castle at the beginning of September 1773. The visit was a great success, particularly for Haydn. The Empress was so delighted with the marionette opera «Philemon und Baucis» that five years later she invited the whole marionette troup to Schönbrunn Castle. And Haydn’s new opera, «L’infedelta delusa», was also a great success with Her Majesty, who afterwards went round Vienna saying, “If I want to hear good opera, I must go to Eszterháza”. We know, because the visit was reported in great detail in contemporary newspapers, that Haydn and his orchestra were assembled one of those days at a beautiful Chinese pavilion on the Castle grounds, and that the Empress was taken there to hear a new symphony by Prince Esterházy’s Capellmeister. Afterwards Prince Nicolaus introduced Haydn to the Empress and they reminisced about the time when Haydn, as a choir-boy, had been caught with some of his playmates on the scaffolding of Schönbrunn Castle and the Empress had had him thrashed. “That thrashing”, said the Empress, “bore good fruit”, a mixed metaphor that will have been a highpoint in Haydn’s life.

It has always been presumed that Symphony No. 48 was the one the Empress heard in that Chinese Pavilion. Our knowledge of the Symphony, textually, has been based primarily on the parts in the Esterházy Archives. It now develops that these parts are absolutely not authentic.

Considering that the Esterházy Archives are the sanctuary for much of Haydn’s music before 1790, that statement requires a little explanation. Six years after the Empress and her entourage left Eszterháza, there was a dreadful fire at the Castle. It started when a stove in the ball room became overheated and exploded. In the ensuing conflagration, the Theatre burned up completely, and with it all the priceless instruments and the entire stock of Haydn’s scores and parts, except for some autographs of his operas which happened to be in his own quarters and were thus saved for posterity. But all the orchestral materials of his symphonies composed up to 1779, and that means some seventy works, were destroyed. Later Haydn did a very sensible thing. He went to Vienna and visited some professional copyists who had been pirating his music for twenty years with great financial gain to themselves and none to Haydn. The composer bought a big collection of his earlier symphonies so that he could have the music at Eszterháza, and what he bought was parts, much more useful to him than the scores. Among his acquisitions was the copy of Symphony No. 48, with the trumpets doubling the horns in the fast movements and a kettledrum part which appears in no other known source. One ought to add that there exist at least ten versions of trumpet and timpani parts to this Symphony, and it would seem that all are spurious.

If this evidence is all negative, the authentic Joseph Elssler parts, mentioned above, are very positive. The two sensational facts of this authentic manuscript are (1) its date of 1769 and (2) the scoring, for oboes, horns in C alto and F, and strings. This means, as far as point one is concerned, that the Symphony cannot have been composed in honour of the Empress’s visit in 1773. There is no reason why Haydn could not have taken the work off the shelf and performed it for the Empress. But she had her own Orchestra in Vienna, and it is more than likely that between the years 1769 and 1773 she will have heard the Symphony. It is also against the spirit of the times for Haydn to have dusted off an old Symphony to honour his Queen and Empress. But if he composed a new work for her, which is it? We seem to have the answer. A little section of the prologue to Philemon und Baucis has survived in Haydn’s autograph, and there is written evidence that they really did give the prologue and the opera itself in Maria Theresa's honour at the Eszterháza puppet theatre. This little fragment was written on some spare sheets which belonged to the autograph of Symphony No. 50. And No. 50, a big work with high horns, trumpets and timpani, is clearly dated 1773 on the autograph. It must have been composed simultaneously with Philemon und Baucis, and it seems that No. 50 is the real Maria Theresia Symphony.

To return to the “new” Czech manuscript of the false Maria Theresia Symphony, we note that there is no timpani part. Now in itself this does not mean much, for as we have seen in connection with Nos. 38 and 41, Haydn frequently sold copies of his works to orchestras that had no trumpets or timpani. But for Haydn of this period, C major in a symphonic or operatic work with high horns (C alto) inevitably meant that timpani played too. Haydn had no trumpets in his band, and he had to recruit them from nearby Oedenburg (Sopron) if he needed trumpets at Eszterháza, as he did, for example, in the autumn of 1773. But timpani were always available. Probably the authentic timpani part to No. 48 perished in the Eszterháza fire.

Recto de la pochette du disque Nonesuch H-1101
Conception de la pochette de William S. HARVEY, graphisme de Abe GERBIN
Le 24 novembre 1955, dans le Studio II de Saarlouis (d'après les données de la discographie de Michael GRAY) Karl RISTENPART enregistra cette symphonie avec son Orchestre de Chambre de la Sarre, pour le label "Les Discophiles français". Pour le même disque - DF 183 - furent également enregistrées les symphonies No 7 et No 21. Les symphonies No 21 et 48 furent rééditées - entre autres - sur ce disque Nonesuch H-1101, avec la symphonie No 82 sous la direction de Günter WAND complétant le verso du disque.

Karl Ristenpart réenregistrera cette symphonie une dizaine d'années plus tard, les 22 et 23 janvier 1965, avec le même orchestre et bien entendu en stéréo - toujours pour le Club français du disque, publiée sur le 33 tours CFD 347 - Princeps 18.

Voici donc...

Joseph Haydn, Symphonie No 48 en do majeur, Hob. I:48, Orchestre de Chambre de la Sarre, Karl Ristenpart, 24 novembre 1955, Studio II, Saarlouis

   1. Allegro              06:07 (-> 06:07)
   2. Adagio               08:12 (-> 14:19)
   3. Menuet               04:04 (-> 18:23)
   4. Allegro              02:34 (-> 20:57)

Provenance: Nonesuch H-1101

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