Meditation on Haydn's Name



Commissioned by the BBC to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Haydn's birth

First Performance
31.3.1982, BBC Radio 3: John McCabe. First Concert Performance: 15.7.1982, Cheltenham Festival, Cheltenham, UK: Paul Crossley

Score 0-571-50848-0 on sale (with Relativity Rag)

Programme Notes

In 1908 six French composers were commissioned to write short piano pieces to commemorate the centenary of Haydn’s death. In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Haydn’s birth on 31 March 1982, the BBC commissioned six English composers along similar lines, all to be played by John McCabe. Each one was based on the pitches derived from the letters of Haydn’s name – BADDG, as were the French precedents. These notes sound throughout my piece as an immobile chord at the centre of the pianistic texture. Every other melodic line and harmony that colours and surrounds this static chord is derived form Haydn’s name, in inversion and transposition. At the end of the basic notes BADDG flower and resonate over the whole keyboard. Meditation on Haydn’s Name is dedicated to Sarah Taylor on her 21st birthday.

© George Benjamin

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