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attributed to
(1737 - 1806)

Concerto in B-flat Major
for Violoncello and Orchestra

Reconstructed and revised by Mark Starr

This score is published by
Editions Max Eschig
215, rue du Faubourg St. Honoré
Paris 8, France

All inquiries concerning the rental of performance materials
and performance rights should be directed to the
Editions Durand-Salabert-Eschig website at


Edition Max Eschig has also published Mark Starr's reduction
of this concerto for cello and piano -- which is available
for purchase from Durand-Salabert-Eschig.

A recording of thje first movement of this cello concerto will play automatically when you open this page.  If you do not wish to listen to it, please click on the STOP or PAUSE button on the media player, above.  If you would like to listen to all three movements, please click consecutively on the three media players at the bottom of this web page.


Concert Reveiw on artssf.com

 The independent observer of San Francisco Bay Area music
Week of Dec. 28-Jan. 5, 2006
Vol. 9, No. 48

A New Haydn Concerto But Which Haydn?

Prediction: Cellists Will Be Cheering Lustily

by Paul Hertelendy

Posted in: 2006
By Paul Hertelendy
Dec 30, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM

Pop open the bubbly, and drink a bicentennial toast to composer Michael Haydn (1737-1806)!

You know Michael? The less famous, less flamboyant composer in the family. While big brother Joseph wrote dozens of symphonies and string quartets and set the gold standard for both in centuries to come, Michael wrote big sacred opuses by the dozen for the Salzburg (Austria) Cathedral.

Now, it's Michael's turn to be feted. Because thanks to him, an important 18th-century cello concerto has turned up in his library collections, lost for two centuries.

This is a mystery concerto which will occupy musicologists, even as cellists will vie to play it.

This "new" B Flat Major Concerto is a substantial work, some 25 minutes in length, about half of it packed into an expansive and elaborate first movement. The first and last movements call for a virtuoso cellist. The piece fills a meager repertory gap in the pre-1830 era, where the only such works we encounter are two superb ones (in D Major and C Major) by Joseph Haydn, and several by Boccherini. There are no cello concertos by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert.

The big question: Is it by Michael, or by Joseph? Will the real Haydn composer please stand up?

There's no score manuscript, only the rapidly cobbled parts done by a neophyte copyist and left in Michael's library. When editing the piece for a performing version now put out by the French publisher Edition Max Eschig, conductor Mark Starr of Los Altos, CA attributed it to Michael. The mystery piece has received its first modern performance with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra on Oct. 4, 2003, and reviewed on these pages at that time. "But now I'm convinced it's by Joseph Haydn, though I don't pretend to be a musicologist," he explains.

And there is considerable circumstantial evidence to back up that surmise. There is a G Major fragment of a slow movement firmly identified as Joseph Haydn's when it was performed by conductor James Judd with an early music group on syndicated television. "It's simpler and shorter, but essentially identical to the second movement (of the mystery concerto)," says Starr.

The fragment is not in the right key-G instead of F-but such transpositions were commonplace in that era, Starr contends.

Furthermore, the third movement of the mystery concerto bears considerable similarity to Joseph Haydn's finale to the D Major Concerto, the one with the memorable "Here We Go Gathering Nuts in May" theme (That was musicologist Donald Tovey's puckish ID, not mine).

But if the B Flat Concerto is by Joseph, who was working in Esterhaz (now Hungary) a couple days' travel time away from Salzburg, how did it get from there to there? Michael and Joseph had very few meetings, each up to his ears in mandatory performing and composing. There's one very plausible scenario for all this. Joseph Haydn had one of the finest cellists in all Europe in his orchestra, a virtuoso known to inspire music written for him. One of them could well have toured to play in Salzburg with Michael's cathedral orchestra in a command performance for some high official, packing the hurriedly copied orchestral parts of the mystery piece, never bothering to take the parts back home afterward.

That too would fit, as Michael has been a major player in the attribution game over the years. The "Toy Symphony," attributed in the past to Wolfgang Mozart or Leopold Mozart, was more likely by Michael. The "Wolfgang Mozart Symphony No. 37" was later attributed to Michael, and even later to being a collaboration in which both had a hand.

And for more than 30 years after its composition, the Christmas carol "Silent Night" was attributed to Michael. Not till a 1854 courthouse inquiry was its correct Gruber-Mohr authorship established.

Another possibility: Joseph wrote most of it, and Michael completed it. (But not posthumously, as Michael predeceased Joseph.) The opening theme, which is almost as straightforward as "Three Blind Mice," strikes me as a bit slight for Joseph's pen.
Starr throws out yet another theory: That Joseph Haydn's principal cellist known to be a stellar soloist (initially Joseph Weigl, followed in 1778-90 by Anton Kraft) might have co-composed some of it.
 What is known is that Michael's widow sold the library legacy to Prince Esterhazy. It remained unplayed thereafter until discovered in the 1990s by musicologist Charles Sherman in the National Szechenyi Library, Budapest, turned over to Starr and Eschig, and given its modern world premiere (possibly 2nd performance ever) in San Jose three years ago.

And this reconstruction is now ready to enter the world scene, having had only limited exposure since then in France, Prague and elsewhere, sometimes without so much as a participating orchestra.

This critic has reservations about the simplistic diatonic opening theme of the concerto, which is so crucial to setting the scene. But the mystery piece is viable, expansive, and effective. "This is not hackwork, it's something special," says Starr in support of this mystery concerto. "First-rate!"

NOW will the right Haydn please stand up before I uncork my champagne bottle? And will the cellists who want to make its first recording please line up on the right?

Before you book a flight to Budapest for the Szechenyi Library to hunt down Michael's greatest works, be aware of the magnitude of your sorting task awaiting you. Michael left some 400 sacred works, including big operas and oratorios. There are also 60 symphonies. A massive number of them are still in manuscript form, as Michael refused many a lucrative offer from a major publishing house.

Rafts of manuscripts-but, so far, none at all of the mystery concerto.

Michael may have been a mere Brother-of asterisk in the music histories. But he was indeed prolific.

And, given that it's New Year's, I'll drink to that.

ŠPaul Hertelendy 2006

 Paul Hertelendy has been covering the dance and modern-music scene in the San Francisco Bay Area with relish and a certain amount of salsa for years.

These critiques appearing weekly (or sometimes semi-weekly, but never weakly) will focus on dance and new musical creativity in performance, with forays into books (by authors of the region), theater and recordings by local artists as well.