Haydn, Brahms & The Manufactured Classical Ideal
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.
The concert will last approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Discussion, on-screen artworks, and musical excerpts
Leon Botstein and The Orchestra Now
Franz Joseph Haydn Symphony No. 38, Prague
Johannes Brahms Variations on a Theme of Haydn
Q&A with the audience
All timings are approximate. Program and artists subject to change.
Sample the Music
Haydn Symphony No. 38, Prague
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)