Haydn Society of North America


Keynote Speaker: David Schulenberg
(Thursday 31 October, 10:00-11:00am)



The long careers of both Haydn and C. P. E. Bach coincided with fundamental transformations in how keyboard instruments were built and played and how composers wrote for them. Haydn’s keyboard music probably saw the more profound changes in compositional style, yet C. P. E. Bach and others preceded him in discovering ways to incorporate new keyboard idioms into pieces written for new types of instruments.

This presentation offers an overview of C. P. E. Bach’s gradual shift from writing generic keyboard music to composing in idioms most appropriate, respectively, to two-manual harpsichords, unfretted clavichords, and fortepianos. It also proposes a revisionist view of Haydn’s approach to keyboard idiom, countering arguments that some of his earlier sonatas were intended for the clavichord. It suggests not only that Haydn came relatively late to writing for the piano, but that the fundamental transition in his approach to keyboard music was from one centered on a generic approach to one that recognized the possibility of writing for a specific category of instruments, namely the grand fortepianos of the late eighteenth century. This transition is illustrated by passages in the late piano trios as well as in solo sonatas.

The presentation concludes by reconsidering the question of C. P. E. Bach’s influence on Haydn, suggesting several new candidates for keyboard pieces by the former that the latter might have known. Not only superficial thematic or motivic patterns but broad formal or stylistic elements are among the compositional ideas that the younger composer might have taken from the older one.


David Schulenberg is author of books on the music of J.S., W.F., and C.P.E. Bach as well as the textbook and anthology Music of the Baroque, now in its third edition. Other topics discussed in his numerous articles include performance practice and attribution in seventeenth-century keyboard music and authenticity and expression in music of the eighteenth century. As an editor he has contributed volumes of keyboard sonatas and concertos to the ongoing Gesamtausgabe of C. P. E. Bach, as well as preludes and fugues to the new Breitkopf & Härtel edition of the organ works of J. S. Bach. A performer on harpsichord and other early keyboard instruments, he has been heard as a soloist across the US and Canada and in Japan and Hong Kong, and has recorded chamber music by Quantz, King Frederick “the Great,” and members of the Bach family on the Naxos, Hungaroton, and Albany Records labels. A resident of Boston, he teaches at Wagner College in New York City and has also served at Boston University, Columbia University, the Juilliard School, and elsewhere, and has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and the American Bach Society. An ongoing project will lead to first recordings of several spectacular chamber works by J.G. Graun; his book on the life and works of J.S. Bach will be published by Oxford University Press. Selections from his writings, editions, and recordings are online at faculty.wagner.edu/david-schulenberg/.