Haydn, Brahms & The Manufactured Classical Ideal

Program & Artists

Haydn Symphony No. 38
Brahms Variations on a Theme of Haydn
Artwork from the exhibition Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color

Leon Botstein conductor


Part of TŌN’s Sight & Sound series

In the hit series Sight & Sound, conductor and music historian Leon Botstein explores the parallels between orchestral music and the visual arts. A discussion is accompanied by on-screen artworks and musical excerpts performed by The Orchestra Now, followed by a full performance and audience Q&A.

When 18th-century scholars exhumed ancient Greek and Roman sculptures that had spent more than a millennium underground, they assumed that the pieces had been created without color. Based on their observations of those newfound objects, art scholars built an imaginary picture of the classical past; with it came a set, “classical” idea of musical structure and form, cemented by its originator, “Papa” Franz Josef Haydn. A century later, as late romanticism jettisoned fixed forms for passionate expressionism, Johannes Brahms fought to retain classicism as the aesthetic standard—and though musical classicism eventually ran its course, Brahms’s Variations provide a unique look back to its origins.

Concert Details

The concert will last approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.

>Read the concert program

Discussion, on-screen artworks, and musical excerpts
Leon Botstein and The Orchestra Now

20 min

Franz Joseph Haydn Symphony No. 38
18 min

Johannes Brahms Variations on a Theme of Haydn
18 min

Q&A with the audience

All timings are approximate. Program and artists subject to change.

Sample the Music

Haydn Symphony No. 38

Brahms Variations on a Theme of Haydn

Image: Vinzenz Brinkmann and Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann, Reconstruction of marble finial in the form of a sphinx (detail), 2022. 3D print in polymethyl metacrylate, natural pigments in egg tempera, gilded copper, gilded tin. Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung (Liebieghaus Polychromy Research Project), Frankfurt am Main; original: Greece, ca. 530 B.C. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (11.185d, x)

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