Blog topic: Rare books

The Queen of the Night, detail from Mozart's Zauberflöte

Opern-Typen: opera meets the comics

January 12, 2016
by Ray Heigemeir

Opern-Tÿpen. Berlin : G. Kölle, [ca. 1882]

Opern-Tÿpen consists of six volumes of chromolithographic plates depicting scenes from 54 operas popular in 19th century Germany. Each opera plot has been distilled into a mere six frames, with liberally adapted accompanying text. The visual charms of Opern-Typen are evident. The plates reveal a sophisticated understanding of the effective use of line, gesture, and composition to convey drama and comedy in a tight narrative sequence. Future research may determine if these drawings captured or were informed by real-life performances, as is suggested by the inclusion of staging and scenic elements.

Orfeo e Euridice by Enrico Scuri, 1842, Musei Civici di Pavia

The opera that Haydn never heard

January 26, 2015
by Ray Heigemeir

Orfeo e Euridice [Orphée et Euridice] : dramma per musica / composto da Giusep. e Haydn ; traduit en vers français ; arrangé pour le piano-forte par Gerardin Lacour.
Paris : Mme. Masson, [1805]

Stanford University Libraries, Memorial Library of Music, MLM 495

Link to downloadable images of this work

Original title on the autograph score: Orfeo ed Euridice; title in Haydn’s catalogue: L'anima del filosofo ossia

Composed in 1791 and headed for the boards in the new Haymarket Theatre, Orfeo was cancelled due to recurring arts-patron rivalry between George III and his son, the Prince of Wales. The King and the Prince supported rival opera houses and seasons. The Prince was a patron of the Haymarket, and George III took it upon himself to refuse to grant a performing license to the Haymarket’s manager, Sir John Gallini, effectively mothballing the production of Orfeo at the new theatre. 

Il Sodoma. Cupid in a landscape (1510)

Haydn's duets for lovers

January 16, 2015
by Ray Heigemeir

Deux Duos avec accompagnement de piano forte:
Saper vorrei se m’ami, HXXVa:1

Guarda qui, che lo vedrai, HXXVa:2
À Bonn : Chez N. Simrock., [1803 or 1804]

Stanford University Libraries, Memorial Library of Music, MLM 490

Link to downloadable images of this work

This pair of pastoral duets for soprano, tenor, and piano were composed in 1796, a highly productive year for Haydn.  Other major works Haydn composed  that year include the Trumpet Concerto, the Missa Sancti Bernardi de Offida (‘Heiligmesse’), and the Missa in tempore belli (‘Paukenmesse’)The librettist was Carlo Francesco Badini, whom Haydn met while in London. Badini worked for the Italian opera house, and also supplied the libretto to Haydn's last opera, L'anima del filosofo, ossia Orfeo ed Euridice

Haydn's signature

Haydn's sonata for a Parisian lady

January 14, 2015
by Ray Heigemeir

Dernière sonate pour le piano forte, avec accompaniment de violon
À Paris : publiée par Naderman ; À Londres : par Clementi & Co., [1821]

Stanford University Libraries, Memorial Library of Music, MLM 498

Link to downloadable images of this work

In advance of a visit to Paris in 1803, Prince Esterházy asked Haydn to compose a new piano sonata as a gift for Louise-Alexandrine-Eugénie Moreau, the French-Creole wife of the famous general Jean Victor Moreau, and hostess of an influential Paris salon. Haydn, pleading illness, sent instead a copy of the sonata for piano with violin and 'cello accompaniment (HXV:31) minus the somewhat superfluous ‘cello part.  In an accompanying letter to Madame Moreau, Haydn apologizes for not composing something new, due to his failing health, and promises to fulfill his duties once he regains his strength.

Winter in the Viennese woods

The Seasons, and Haydn slows down

January 8, 2015
by Ray Heigemeir

Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons)
Leipzig : Breitkopf & Härtel, [1802]

Stanford University Libraries, Memorial Library of Music, MLM 494

Link to downloadable images of this work: volume one | volume two

Composition, performance and publication of The Seasons quickly followed the resounding success of The Creation. The libretto, also provided by Baron von Swieten, was a fragmented adaptation of James Thompson’s epic poem, first published in the 1730s and which enjoyed broad popularity at the end of the century. The private premiere took place at the Schwarzenberg Winter Palace on April 24, 1801, and the public premiere took place in the Redoutensaal at the Hofburg Palace, on May 29 of that same year.

Bridget Whearty and Astrid Smith in the digitization lab

Making a digital medieval manuscript

As the CLIR postdoctoral fellow in Data Curation for Medieval Studies at Stanford I work primarily with data about large collections of digitized manuscripts and fragments. For example, I have helped to make our teaching collections more easily discoverable in Searchworks. I've also been bringing together partner institutions' descriptive metadata to feed a specialized manuscript search environment. 

In practice, I write code to transform batches of 70, 300, 500, or 1000+ manuscripts at a time: I've gotten very comfortable thinking of medieval manuscripts in the tens, hundreds, and even thousands. But the truth is that these large batches of digital-medieval manuscripts I curate are built of unique, single objects. Single objects that, just like the physical objects they grow from, are made by individual people, in particular environments, under specific institutional, financial, and social pressures. 

In order to better understand the process that leads to the creation of a digital-medieval book, I recently followed the digitization of a fifteenth-century book of hours, Stanford University Libraries, M0379, from the request for digitization, through the slow hard work of taking the images and hours of post-production labor, to its arrival in Stanford Digital Repository (SDR). 

Broadwood grand piano, 1810

Haydn’s English songs: the canzonettas

November 24, 2014
by Ray Heigemeir

Dr. Haydn's VI original canzonettas for the voice with an accompaniment for the Piano-Forte : dedicated to Mrs. John Hunter. London : Printed for the Author, & Sold by him at No. 1, Bury Street, St. James - at Messrs. Corri, Dussek & Co. Music Sellers to her Majesty, No. 7 Dean Street, Soho & Bridge Street, Edinburgh, [1794-1795]

Second sett of Dr. Haydn's VI original canzonettas : for the voice with an accompaniment for the piano forte / dedicated to the Right Honble. Lady Charlotte Bertie. London : Printed & sold for Messrs. Corri, Dussek & Co., [1795?]

Download images of the complete works: First set | Second set

What a time Haydn must have had during his London stays in the early 1790s! Already hailed as a great composer, and preceded by the performance and publication of numerous successful works including symphonies, string quartets, and works for keyboard, he was eagerly embraced by London society.

As reported in the Lady’s Magazine, January 1791:

“A remarkable circumstance happened this evening, in the ball-room at St. James's. Haydn, the celebrated composer, though he has not yet been introduced at our court, was recognised by all the royal family, and paid them his silent respects. Mr. Haydn came into the room with Sir John Gallini, Mr. Wills, and Mr. Salomon. The prince of Wales first observed him, and upon bowing to him, the eyes of all the company were upon Mr. Haydn, everyone paying him respect.”

Naxos temple gate

Haydn's "exquisitely captivating" Arianna a Naxos

November 20, 2014
by Ray Heigemeir

Arianna a Naxos, Hob. XXVIb:2
London, Printed for the author [1791], signed by the composer

Stanford University Libraries, Memorial Library of Music, MLM 489

Link to downloadable images of this work

Arianna a Naxos was first published by Artaria in Vienna in 1790, followed by this London edition printed for Haydn by John Bland and first offered for sale on June 10, 1791. Bland was instrumental in bringing Haydn to London, and provided Haydn’s first lodging there in January 1791. Bland had visited Haydn at Eszterháza. One day during Haydn’s grooming routine, he heard the composer complain about his dull razors. “I’d give my best quartet for a pair of good razors,” he exclaimed, upon which Bland raced back to his room, grabbed his new British razors, and presented them to Haydn. In exchange Bland received the manuscript for the Quartet, op. 55 No.2, the “Razor” Quartet.  Or so the story goes.  We do know that Bland took away the manuscript for Arianna and a contract to publish Haydn’s flute trios.

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