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Haydn, The Seasons

Dear Listers,

Here is my original post and many of the responses regarding Haydn's Seasons.
Thanks to all who responded! VERY HELPFUL!!

Don McCullough


Has anyone performed one or more of the four seasons contained in Haydn's
"The Seasons" (Der Jahreszeiten)? From all that I've read it seems that it's
not a terribly compelling work. But I'm wondering if there is one season that
can stand on its own and feel complete in itself or if there are traditional
cuts that are made so that it would comprise no more than half of a program.

I would be grateful to hear from anyone who has any insights, especially
those who have performed all or part of it.


We just did the Seasons [complete]. It runs over 2 hours and the choruses
are really great. In my opinion, there are so many recits and arias that the
energy of the piece seems to be slowed by them. We did it in German. You
might take a look at Autumn as a season that might work by itself. The
Hunting Chorus and the Wine Chorus are absolutely kicks to perform. In fact
we are repeating those two choruses on our final concert of the semester. I
would therefore recommend a condensed version with the reduction coming via
recits and arias. The choruses I found to be terrific.

Gary Funk
Director of Choral Activities
U of Montana

Each of the seasons in the work comprises a separate, self-contained part
and could probably stand on its own in a concert. Spring and Summer each
have their charms, but Autumn stands out for its rollicking hunting chorus
and its over-the-top grape-pressing scene, in which somehow the grapes seem
to turn immediately to wine and to have their effect on the workers. The
music gets merrier and tipsier as it goes along, ending as a roistering
drinking chorus!

Winter is for me the weakest section, concerned with tales around the fire
and much moralizing about being good, obedient, and industrious. This is
apparently the section that put Haydn off, too. He is reported to have
complained that, though he had spent his career being industrious, he had
never before had to set industriousness to music.

Nick Jones
Program Annotator
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra


Spring works alone, in my opinion.


I must disagree. It is, in my opinion, a very compelling work. I will
grant you, though, that in modern times, the average audience will
probably not be willing to meet the work half way. True, it is long,
but it is even a better work than "The Creation", which also is often
considered as tedious by modern listeners.

If I were you, I would use the Shaw translation (I think he did one,
or was that just for "The Creation"?). Of course, you could do any
one of the separate movements or any pair of them. Just be sure you
do the movement with the glorious drinking song and include the one
with the croaking frogs. The work is dripping with humor and requires
a large orchestra (contrabasson no less).

Bill Bullock

I have sung it all, and you're right, it's not a compelling work! Or at
least, I didn't find it to be so - but the conductor loved it, so who
knows? Anyway, I did like songs best from the Autumn section - at least
I think that's the one - there is a hunt song and a drinking song. I'm
too lazy to go look it up. We sang it in English, and although I'd have
liked it better in German, it was probably more understandable to the
audience in English - and easier to learn. Hope this helps you in your

Kathy Boyce
Donald McCullough
Master Chorale of Washington.
Washington, DC

on November 5, 2007 10:00pm
For choral directors with antsy audiences (or singers, like KB), I also would recommend doing just Autumn. But it would be a shame to miss the ending of the final section, Winter. Tovey felt it was the most thrilling conclusion of any work he had ever heard (and this doesn't seem obviously wrong to me).

I hope Nick Jones didn't put the Ode to Industry in Winter in any program notes he's written. It's actually the first chorus of Autumn.