Johann Michael Haydn
Serenade in D Perger 87
(b. Rohrau, 14 September 1737 – d. Saltzburg, 10 August 1806)
Johann Michael Haydn, better known as Michael Haydn, was a prolific composer of the late eighteenth century. Born on September 17, 1737 in Rohrau, Austria, he was the younger brother of the better known composer, Franz Joseph Haydn. Though not as well recognized as his brother, Michael was an accomplished musician, first as a choirboy at St. Stephen’s Cathedral and later through his composition of symphonies, concertos, serenades, ballets, marches, solo sonatas, and more. He composed a significant amount of sacred music including antiphons, cantatas, canticles, graduals, hymns, offertories, masses, and most notably the Missa a due cori. After Michael Haydn’s death on August 10, 1806, his church music, choruses for male voices and numerous instrumental works, began to earn recognition as comparable to those of his brother.
Premiered in Salzburg in 1767 when Michael Haydn was only twenty-seven years old, the Serenade in D remains a little known work that, until recently, has rarely been recorded.
The influence of a variety of eighteenth-century genres can be heard within this piece. The eighteenth-century serenade typically featured concerto style movements often featuring multiple soloists or instrument groups throughout the work. Haydn’s Serenade follows this model. Concerto-like movements feature not only the horn and trombone, but also flute, violin, and cello. The Serenade in D begins with no soloists, only an orchestra of strings and winds, but as it progresses the piece grows and begins to explore orchestral colors and textures made possible by high caliber soloists. But, as if to say that nothing is complete unless it comes full circle, the piece ends with a tutti movement where no one voice is prioritized over other. The influence of operatic technique is likewise evident in Haydn’s Serenade. Specifically, this can be seen in the inclusion of a featured “Recitative“ in which a violin engages the solo instruments of the previous movements. Following this recitative, Haydn draws the listener’s attention to an “aria” which can perhaps be considered the instrumental equivalent to the role of an eighteenth century opera seria heroine.
Demanding the utmost in virtuosity from its performers, Michael Haydn’s Serenade features a prominent duet between the horn and alto trombone soloists, forming a concertino within the Serenade. Most likely, these challenging movements were written for and premiered by two of the most skilled brass soloists of that day, Thomas Gshlant (alto trombone virtuoso) and Joseph Leutgeb (french horn virtuoso). Gschladt was an admired colleague of the famous French horn player Joseph Leutgeb for whom all of Mozart´s horn concertos were written. According to the dancer and chronicler Philipp Tobias Gumpenhuber (1708-1770), on July 2, 1762, Leutgeb performed a horn concerto by Michael Haydn which has, unfortunately, been lost. Joseph Haydn wrote his famous horn concerto for Leitgeb in his 1762 concert series at the Burgtheater and Leutgeb was the Haydn family’s horn soloist of choice. Leutgeb’s close personal connection and the rare trombone technique and capabilities demonstrated by Gshlant make it likely that this piece was written with both performers in mind.
The two longest movements in this piece, the fourth and fifth, counting the minuet and trio as a singular movement, both feature horn and trombone solos. The technique required of the performers in these movements testify to a brief “golden age” of advanced brass instrument performance from 1756 to 1780, particularly for the alto trombone. Some musicologists have suggested that during the eighteenth century in Salzburg, serenades offered composers a unique opportunity to feature skilled musicians in court orchestras, and civic or military bands, particularly woodwind and brass musicians who performed alongside the more amateur string musicians in local orchestras.
The focus on orchestral color and texture enlivens the work’s static harmonic character—Haydn’s Serenade remains in D major throughout a majority of the movements. The Minuet and Trio movements prove to be the most harmonically adventurous. The first Minuet continues from the previous movement in A major and, following convention, modulates to the dominant, E major, for the trio section. To this point in the Serenade, this E major movement is the only full movement not in the tonic or dominant of D major. The second Minuet and Trio offers the most harmonic intrigue. Haydn starts predictably in D major, however, instead of modulating to the dominant for the trio section, he explores the subdominant, G major, instead. This moment is the furthest away from D major that the Serenade travels and by doing this Haydn prevents the ear from growing weary of the D major tonality, allowing a bit of a reprieve. By placing this modulation near the middle of the piece, Haydn creates a tension that he is then able to resolve with the return to the major key area of D.
The original sources for the serenade can be found as Serenata, a piu Stromenti, tutti obbligati. di G. Mich: Haydn ppia. (WM: fig. 52 & 53), in Magyarország, Budapest, Hungary, at the Országos Széchényi Könyvtár (Nationalbibliothek Széchényi).
For performance material please contact Katzbichler, München. Reprint of a copy from the Musikbibliothek der Münchner Stadtbibliothek, Munich.