Contemporary composers may bemoan the fact that their newly-composed opera or concerto might languish unperformed for years. “Haydn was lucky,” they whine, “His stuff got played right away!”
Well, it is true that Haydn did have his own orchestra at Prince Esterhazy’s estate, and they played his music while the ink on the scores was still wet. But even Papa Haydn had to wait for a premiere on occasion—in two instances, for a very, very long time.
Consider the last opera that Haydn wrote, entitled L'anima del filosofo, ossia Orfeo ed Euridice—or, in plain English, The Soul of the Philosopher, or Orpheus and Euridice. This was supposed to premiere in 1791 at the King's Theatre in London. But a spat between the Prince of Wales and his pop, King George III, meant the performance was off. The opera was eventually staged a mere 160 years later—on today’s date in 1951, at the Teatro della Pergola in Florence, Italy, with a cast including Maria Callas and Boris Christoff, led by the legendary German conductor Erich Kleiber.
And the public premiere of a Cello Concerto in C, a work some think Haydn wrote at Esterhazy in the 1760s, took place in the 1960s. Haydn’s score was presumed lost until 1961, when it was discovered at the Prague National Museum and finally played by cellist Milos Sádlo and the Czech Radio Symphony, led by Sir Charles Mackerras, on May 19, 1962.
Music Played in Today's Program
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)Orfeo ed EuridiceCello Concerto in Ct.b.a.