Boccherini and Haydn faces

 Chiaroscuro: Haydn & Bocherini 
- on period instruments!


Moshe Aron Epstein classical flute
Ya'akov Rubinstein  violin
Sharon Cohen  violin
Rachel Ringelstein viola
Myrna Herzog  cello


Boccherini and Haydn were for sure two of the most beloved composers in Europe during their lifetime. Their music was heard all around, from Portugal and Spain to Scandinavia, France, the Netherlands , Belgium , Austria, Germany, England. During their lives, the two prolific composers achieved fame and recognition, and a special place in the heart of  music lovers. 


Haydn & Boccherini  were often compared by their contemporaries in contrasting terms as representing different compositional tendencies and aesthetic worlds. In the words of Jean-Baptiste Cartier, the famous violin master: “If God wanted to speak to men through music, He would do it with the works of Haydn, but if He himself wished to listen to music, He would choose Boccherini”.

Our program presents Boccherini's dramatic string quartet op. 32 no 2 and two of his flute quintets – the lyrical op. 17 n. 1 and and the passionate op. 19 no. 2 . Haydn will be represented by an 18th century chamber version of his Symphony No 94 in G Major “Surprise", made by the celebrated violin soloist and composer Johann Peter Salomon (1745-1815).


Ensemble PHOENIX by Yoel Levy 1 light


  1. Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805) – Flute Quintet in G Minor, Op. 19 No. 2  G426

I.Allegro con un poco di moto II. Minuetto con moto


  1. Boccherini – String Quartet op 32 No. 2 in E

Largo sostenuto - Minuetto Largetto - Comodo Assai – Rondeau


  1. Boccherini – Flute Quintet In D Major, Op.17 No.1 (G419)

I.Allegro Assai - II.Minuetto: Amoroso


  1. Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), arranged by Johann Peter Salomon (1745-1815) – Symphony No 94 in G Major “Surprise"

Adagio – Vivace assai – Andante - Menuetto: Allegro molto - Finale: Allegro molto



On the Program

Luigi Boccherini 1743 1805

 In his article "Haydn, Boccherini and the Rise of the String Quartet in Late Eighteenth-Century Madrid", MIGUEL ÁNGEL MARÍN points out that "the list of contemporaries who made comparisons between Haydn and Boccherini is very long, and these comparisons are almost always expressed in antagonistic terms: " light-dark, comic-tragic, male-female, inteUect-sensibility, introverted-extraverted".

There was a general consensus at the time that each composer represented a different aesthetic world, and music commentators extolled one or the other depending on their training, ideology or simply personal taste. Various Spanish theorists also shared this view. For Tomás de Iriarte and, especially, Antonio Eximeno, Boccherini and Haydn were the best representatives of two different compositlonal tendencies: "one ltalian, with a melodic and pleasant nature and the other German, of a contrapunta! and intricate nature.

However, historiography has not been completely fair when telling this story. While Haydn has eamed a well-deserved central role in the rise of the string quartet, Boccherini has long remained in the shadows, treated as a uncomfortable figure that didn't quite fit into the established account. This probably has something to do with the fact that Boccherini settled in a peripheral country like Spain. But it certainly has more to do with the historiographical view forged in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries regarding "classicism" - largely identified with the "Viennese" triumvirate of Haydn, Mozart and early Beethoven - as a model of perfection in detriment to other contemporary composing styles.

By implication, all other composers of this period were measured against these idealised models; the further away their technique was from them, the more "immature" or "imperfect" they were considered. Boccherini has been one of the notorious victims of this Austro-Germanic-centred view. lt is only in recent years that he has received the same recognition that he was unanimously given in his time for the central role he played in the creation of the quartet".  


Boccherini wrote an immense number of chamber works, divided according their scope into opera grande (four-movement full-scale work) and opera piccola (two-movement miniatures). Our  program presents both types, the kind of works comissioned to Boccherini by Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia during more than 10 years, during the whole time of his government.

Postdam,  October 1, 1783: "Nothing could give me more pleasure, signor Boccherini, than to receive some of your compositions from your own hands and just at a time when I have begun to perform your instrumental work. It alone gives me full satisfaction and every day I enjoy that pleasure. So that I am willing to believe that the pleasure you find in composition will not shortly come to an end and that we may hope to see something new from your pen, in which case I shall be most grateful if you will communicate it to me. Meanwhile please accept, Signor Boccherini, this gold box, in memory of me and as a mark of the esteem in which I hold your talents in an art which I particularly value, und be persuaded of the consideration with which I remain, Signor Boccherini, your most affectionate, Frederick William, Prince of Prussia."


Joseph Haydn by Thomas Hardy 1791

In his edition of ‘XII GRAND SYMPHONIES , By HAYDN, arranged as Quintets, by J. P. SALOMON’, Christopher Hogwood informs us that, just before leaving London for Vienna in August 1795, Joseph Haydn signed over the rights on the first six of the London symphonies to the impresario and orchestra leader J. P. Salomon. In late February of the following year Haydn despatched from Vienna the contract for the remaining six, handing over to Salomon the right to exploit all twelve as he saw fit. Salomon made reductions of the entire set for chamber performance, ‘for five Instruments, vizt. Two Violins, a German Flute, a Tenor, and a Violoncello: with an Accompaniment for the Piano Forte ad libitum. ... ", announced in The Times on 19 June 1798.

“As a vehicle for orchestral transcription this scarcely precedented combination proved immediately successful. Salomon’s autograph score, used for the first engraving, is instrumental to illustrate his procedures and experiments, and garner evidence of that collaboration between author and performer which was so much part of eighteenth-century musical practice. With Salomon we have the contribution of a performing musician who worked alongside Haydn from the conception of many of these symphonies, and saw them through first (and consequent) performances and eventually into print in a variety of forms.

The manuscript is written on English paper 9 1/2 x 11 3/4 inches, watermarked with a crown over fleur-de-lys in shield and ‘GR 1794’. The date (if any indication of the year of composition) is surprisingly early; Salomon had no contract with Haydn until the following year, and yet the hasty script, particularly in the later symphonies, is obviously under pressure — as if to suggest performances of the quintettos in MS before publication, maybe even before Haydn’s departure.”

For a fuller study see Christopher Hogwood’s “In praise of arrangements: the ‘Symphony Quintetto’”, in Studies in Music History presented to H. C. Robbins Landon (ed. Otto Biba and David Wyn Jones), Thames & Hudson, London, 1996, p. 82ff.