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Happy Birthday to Papa Haydn, Father of the String Quartet

Bradley Strauchen-Scherer, Associate Curator, Department of Musical Instruments

Posted: Monday, March 31, 2014

"The Antonius," Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, 1711, bequest of Annie Bolton Matthews Bryant, 1933 (34.86.1 a)

Antonio Stradivari (Italian, 1644–1737). "The Antonius," 1711. Maple, spruce, ebony. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Annie Bolton Matthews Bryant, 1933 (34.86.1 a)

«Lovers of chamber music have good reason to raise a cheer on March 31, which marks the 282nd birthday of composer Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809), who is often referred to as the "Father of the String Quartet."» Over the course of his life, he composed sixty-eight quartets, through which he established the form's structural and musical hallmarks. As Haydn wrote his last set of quartets (Op. 77) in 1799, Ludwig van Beethoven was just embarking on his own defining work as a quartet composer. It is tantalizing to speculate whether Haydn and Beethoven were aware of each other's latest work in this annus mirabilis of the genre.

To celebrate Papa Haydn's birthday, the finale of Haydn's String Quartet in G major, Op. 77, No. 1, is performed here by the American String Quartet, played using three instruments from the Museum's collection:

Peter Winograd, violin: Antonio Stradivari, "The Antonius," 1711 (34.86.1 a)

Laurie Carney, violin: Antonio Stradivari, "The Francesca," 1694 (34.86.2 a)

Daniel Avshalamov, viola

Wolfram Koessel, cello: Jean Baptiste Vuillaume, Violoncello, mid-19th century (1984.114.1)

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Franz Joseph Haydn (Austrian, 1732–1809). String Quartet in G Major, Op. 77, No. 1, Finale. The American String Quartet. Recorded at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012

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About the Author

Dr. Bradley Strauchen-Scherer is an associate curator in the Department of Musical Instruments.

About this Blog

The Museum's collection of musical instruments includes approximately five thousand examples from six continents and the Pacific Islands, dating from about 300 B.C. to the present. It illustrates the development of musical instruments from all cultures and eras. On this blog, curators and guests will share information about this extraordinary collection, its storied history, the department's public activities, and some of the audio and video recordings from our archives.