Michael Haydn, Divertimento in C Major MH 27

Michael Haydn Michael Haydn (1737-1805) was the younger brother of Joseph Haydn. Michael received the same musical training as his brother in Vienna and eventually settled in Salzburg where he obtained the position of music director. Like most composers of the time, he wrote a lot of music but none of it seemed to get the attention of that which Joseph’s received. He wrote over 500 works and gave as many as one hundred and fifty titles as such as Notturno or Divertimento.

Most of his works were not published during his lifetime but circulated in copies made from his manuscripts. The oldest known copy of the manuscript of the Divertimento in C Major, MH 27 can be found in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. Scholars are not sure when the work was composed. The earliest estimate is around 1760 which seems unlikely. Others put it around 1790. The style is that of the Mannheim School of Stamitz which suggests a date in the 1770s or early 1780s. On the other hand, it is in four movements Allegro moderato, Adagio, Menuetto and Finale, presto, rather than three which was favored by the Mannheim composers.

What is particularly interesting is that the manuscript shows the work can be played by violin, viola and cello or violin and 2 cellos, or violin cello and bass. Note, there are three separate cello parts that are different for each of the combinations. Our new edition is based the copy in the Bavarian State Library. It is a charming work not at all difficult.

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