New insights into the chronology of Haydn's folksong arrangements: reading between the lines of the George Thomson correspondence

Edwards, W. (2004) New insights into the chronology of Haydn's folksong arrangements: reading between the lines of the George Thomson correspondence. Haydn-Studien: Haydns Bearbeitungen Schottischer Volkslieder, 8(4), pp. 325-340.

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The surviving original correspondence relating to Haydn’s folksong arrangements for George Thomson of Edinburgh is sufficiently extensive to warrant a more detailed account of their chronology than Irmgard Becker-Glauch was in a position to produce some twenty years ago. Referring to the transcriptions published in the critical commentaries to the <i>Joseph Haydn Werke</i>, XXXII/3–4, I offer a few corrections to the received view, calling attention to the need to distinguish batches of <i>tunes</i> Thomson <i>sent</i> to Haydn from the batches of <i>settings</i> Haydn <i>returned</i> and from the sequences in which Thomson then re-ordered them. In the process I cast new light on the revisions Haydn undertook at Thomson’s request, and on the nature of Haydn’s six variation sets for which Thomson had also sought changes, apparently for instrumental as opposed to vocal use, but which were evidently carried out eventually by someone other than Haydn. Finally I invite reconsideration of Haydn’s motives for undertaking to supply such large quantities of song settings to Scottish publishers late in life, and of how such settings might be evaluated today. Both Haydn and Thomson in their different ways were caught up in a newly found European enthusiasm for collecting melodies and other cultural artefacts, and for disseminating knowledge. Haydn saw the task of supplying symphonies and accompaniments for tunes from beyond the Channel as distinct from his central compositional activity to the extent he could happily put his name to later arrangements he had sub-contracted to Neukomm and others. Furthermore, and notwithstanding the epistemologies of later generations, he plainly saw no contradiction in the presentation of melodies steeped in one culture through the perspective of another. Nor did Haydn see anything amiss with a process whereby Thomson rather than he assumed responsibility for the subsequent fitting of words to the melodies.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Haydn, Joseph Thomson, George Scottish Folksongs
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Edwards, Dr Warwick
Authors: Edwards, W.
Subjects:M Music and Books on Music > M Music
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Music
Journal Name:Haydn-Studien: Haydns Bearbeitungen Schottischer Volkslieder
Publisher:G. Henle Verlag Muenchen
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2004 G. Henle Verlag Muenchen
First Published:First published in Haydn-Studien: Haydns Bearbeitungen Schottischer Volkslieder 8(4):325-340
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with permission of the publisher

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