Haydn, Accessible in New York in 1939: Symphonies Selling Tickets, Records and Newspapers

Wednesday, April 24, 2019
3:30 PM – 4:45 PM


Free Event

Derek Katz (Associate Professor of Musicology, UC Santa Barbara) will present a talk titled “Haydn, Accessible in New York in 1939: Symphonies Selling Tickets, Records and Newspapers” on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 from 3:30-4:45 pm in Room 1145 in the Music Building. Sponsored by UCSB Music History and Theory Forum.


On March 12, 1939, Fritz Stiedry and the Orchestra of the New Friends of Music performed Haydn’s Symphonies nos. 77 and 99 in New York’s Carnegie Hall. The concert was part of a season centered on five Haydn symphonies in new editions prepared by Alfred Einstein, advertised as unheard since Haydn’s lifetime. Three days earlier, the same forces had recorded the Symphony no. 99 as part of the “World’s Greatest Music” series (a circulation promotion for the New York Post). The concert, the recordings, and the printed materials associated with them reveal overlaps and conflicts between different modes of mediation for middlebrow audiences and consumers in the United States. Publicity materials and program essays for the public concerts foregrounded the novelty of the performances, the musicological work of Einstein in locating and editing manuscript sources, and Haydn’s putative status as a modernist in the context of his time. This approach both reinforced narratives established by Lawrence Gilman’s New York Philharmonic program notes in the 1920s and explicitly addressed the call to reveal a Haydn “middle period” in Donald Francis Tovey’s essay “Haydn the Inaccessible.” Promotional materials for the “World’s Greatest Music” records, reflecting efforts like Walter Damrosch’s NBC Music Appreciation Hour and Charles O’Connell’s The Victor Book of the Symphony (from which advertising blurbs were paraphrased), presented music as a language of emotion. However, pieces were not placed in any historical or stylistic framework. Haydn, described in music appreciation courses as incapable of deep emotional expression, and as important only as a link in the development of sonata form, posed a particular problem, and the Symphony no. 99 end up being plugged as “startlingly new and original.” Stiedry’s recording superficially resembles Arturo Toscanini’s contemporaneous Haydn performances but also reflects the historically informed performance practices current in Berlin when Stiedry was conducting at the State Opera in the last years of the Weimar Republic. There are also audible traces of Schoenberg’s influence in Stiedry’s emphasis on odd phrase lengths. Finally, Stiedry foregrounds extended harmonies in ways that support the modernist narratives shared by the concert and record promotions.

About the Speaker

Derek Katz received his PhD from UCSB, his BA from Harvard, and has studied at The Free University of Berlin on a Fulbright Fellowship. A specialist in Czech music, he has published articles in Musical Quarterly and multiple Czech journals, as well as chapters in Nineteenth Century Chamber Music (Schirmer, 1998), Janáček and His World (Princeton, 2003), and Modernism and Opera (Johns Hopkins, 2016). His book Janáček Beyond the Borders was published by the University of Rochester Press in 2009. His more recent work deals with institutional support for professional string quartets in the United States in the mid-20th Century. In particular, he has been researching the American career of the Kolisch Quartet and the history of the New Friends of Music in New York. Katz has also worked extensively in public musicology and audience enhancement. He has written for The New York Times, the San Francisco Opera, the Teatro Real Madrid, and the Bavarian State Opera, and spoken at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. He also collaborates with the San Francisco Opera Guild, the Ives Collective, and the Hausmann Quartet. He is an enthusiastic amateur violist and chamber music player.