By the 1840s Joseph Haydn, who died in 1809 as the most celebrated composer of his generation, had degenerated into the bewigged "Papa Haydn," a shallow placeholder in music history who merely invented the forms used by Beethoven. In a remarkable reversal, Haydn swiftly regained his former stature within the opening decades of the twentieth century. Reviving Haydn: New Appreciations in the Twentieth Century examines both the decline and the subsequent resurgence of Haydn's reputation in an effort to better understand the forces that shape critical reception on a broad scale.
No single person or event marked the turning point for Haydn's reputation. Instead a broad resurgence reshaped opinion in Europe and the United States in short order. The Haydn revival engaged many of the music world's leading figures -- composers (Vincent d'Indy and Arnold Schoenberg), conductors (Arturo Toscanini), performers (Wanda Landowska), critics (Lawrence Gilman), and scholars (Heinrich Schenker and Donald Tovey) -- each of whom valued Haydn's music for specific reasons and used it to advance particular goals. Yet each advocated for a rehearing and rereading of the composer's works, calling for a new appreciation of Haydn's music.
Bryan Proksch is Assistant Professor of Music History at Lamar University.