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Free «Joseph Haydn: The Seasons» Essay Sample

Joseph Haydn work “The Seasons” was a master piece which was inspired by his success of previous oratorio. The work was based on the Handel model rather than the traditional oratorio from Italy. It was composed in 1732 – 1809 and its original title was in German named Die Jahreszeiten. The James Thomson’s poem “The Seasons” provided the wording of the work and blended in very perfectly for the keys and harmony.

The Seasons was written for a large choir that would be in four parts, this was performed by a large classical orchestra that had three vocal soloists that were bass, tenor and soprano. The characters from his book Simon, a farmer, sang Base; Jane his daughter sang Saprano; and Lucas a peasant sang Tenor. These three voices were the same as those in his work “The Creation’ and thus the link to his previous work. The four part series survey the four seasons of changing weather patterns that comprise a whole year and the characteristic activities that happen during these seasons; these are the spring, winter, autumn and summer.



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The synopsis of “The seasons” revolves around the theme of change especially those taking place during the different times of the year. The work has 44 musical songs that describe the changes making it easy to understand the changes. Simon is the first character and see the struggles in these basics and from spring Hanne is seen embracing the moderate winds. This creates a sensation of gladness, thankfulness and gratefulness. He quotes “Come Gentle Spring the real mildness come” (Haydn, 2) which is sang by the four characters; in alto, bass and soprano.

The summer is a day break that explores the wonders and magnificence of nature; the sun shines and day’s become very enjoyable for outdoor activities. People will go for holidays in summer and this makes it different from the others.

The autumn is a pleasant time for the peasants, in view of the fact that it is the time to harvest. There is bounty harvest after a long wait and a lot of hard work on the farms which makes it a season to enjoy and reap what they sown. The wither sets in to destroy the sprouts and blossoms; it is a harsh time for the people since they are confined indoors, with no major activities. “As yet the year is unconfirmed; as yet the year is unconfirmed, and of the cold turning blast with black en ven otn’d fogs; the bud and loom destroy the bud and bloom” (Haydn, 12).

This is then followed by spring and Joseph quotes “And from her wintry grave bid drowsy nature rise” “the softness of its breath we feel, the joy of renovating life”. “Gentle spring, see gentle spring de light full comes” (Haydn, 11). These seasons are a symbol and characteristic of a life that is passing and follows a cycle that makes the people yearn to have the best weather during spring. This is seen in the chorus that is sung by all the characters in their voices creating harmony and rhythm.

At the conclusion, the main melody and the repeated parts there is an exchange of the enchanting voices of the males and females to enhance the melody; but it does not conclude with melancholy. It brings out the utmost and genuine feeling of joy as portrayed by the soloist and chorus which is symbolic of the how the people have accepted and upheld the changes in the seasons and what they entail. As a choral presentation “The Seasons” by Joseph Haydn with Choral Accompany presents a perfect piece that blends in all the factors in music.

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All along through his song writings Haydn was inspired by the visit he did to England in 1794-1795 and 1791 -1792.Being a deep religious person he composed religious songs using mature classical style musical language. In his music he used so many musical instruments which there were always set of three soloists Bass, Tenor and Soprano that was his favorite choice of vocal sounds because they rhymed with the instruments which he was using. Sometime he was using incidental solo to sing alto which makes him have a four part chorus made up of Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass.

While for the instruments there was large classical orchestra being used which were bassoons, flutes, trumpets, clarinets and oboes. Other instruments which were used to compliment the songs were string instruments such as the violas, cellos, double basses and violins. For the purpose of recitative he used fortepiano and harpsichord. Haydn was in real love of big sound he therefore was adding extra instrumental parts to the work. The orchestra which was used to make the song sounds good was mostly playing alone with an aim of tone painting. The three singers which he used in his song represented angles who were narrating and commenting about the six days which the earth was created. Gabriel was singing soprano, Raphael Bass and Uriel Tenor, the role which was played by Adam was sung by the same soloist who sung Bass while for eve was sung by Gabriel therefore each soloist had several roles.

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The dynamics of Orchestra in his music was visible by use of flutes and Bassoons which are categorized as woodwinds. For the Brass Haydn used trumpets this is categorized as a wind instrument which was used to compliment the song. The creation of the music was done in three parts this was done in line with other oratorios which are large musical numbers. The Choruses are prefaced recitative used to give the actual words used in the song as it was derived from the bible. In the fast part of the song it is celebrating the primal light of the earth, bodies of water, the plant life, heavenly bodies and presentation of chaos. The most famous song is written in sonata form used to withhold musical cadences from the phrases which are being used.

The movement of the song relates to words at Genesis 1:1-4 this song begin with a choral presentation for creation of light which is started by recitative for bass solo. The use of string instrument produced a soft pizzicato being followed by fortissimo its combination makes the song really good and created a moment of sensation because of the work of Vienna. While part II is used to celebrate the creation of the animals, sea creatures, birds and man. This section is sung using soprano in F major unlike part one which G Major was the main predominant. On line 16 it was sung by bass using D minor which is followed by a brief aria.

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Use of the instruments such as Violins but only use of the lower strings which is divided cellos and violas is used in the second part of the song. Use of bass voice is to represent the Almighty, use of bass goes well with the role of Almighty and it emphasizes on the words being spoken.


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