Haydn’s Joke

Overall, the string quartets are aesthetically pleasing in major keys and remind me of the Bradenburg Concerto in terms of musical quality, although Bach’s music is much more lively, saturated and quick. Perhaps this is a remembrance of the past by Haydn and a subtle push towards new musical creativity. He certainly appears tired of the same old just by composing and titling this piece.

Haydn’s joke must have been daring in 1781; it also reflects his ingenuity because he leaves the contents of the joke up to interpretation. Most will cite the adagio coda and the silences as the joke, but others might identify elements in the music that speak to them as the joke. Personally, I don’t have enough musical knowledge to understand all the hidden jokes Haydn planted, but he crafted an audacious satirical piece that may just have inspired future musicians to experiment.

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