Letters to the Editor

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Everyone was right about encore played by Alexander String Quartet

I saw Jon Walters' letter about the Alexander String Quartet concert, with a comment about the encore the quartet played, namely, the slow movement of the "Quartet in C major, op. 76 No. 3" by Haydn, which uses the theme that Haydn composed as a commission for the Austrian government. Having discussed this with an audience member or two the night of the concert, and then seeing this reference in the paper, I thought I would do a little research.

The famous theme on which the second movement of the quartet is based, is now the German National Anthem, adopted as such in 1922. Prior to this, it served as the Austrian National Anthem from about when Haydn wrote it in 1797 until 1918 and then again for a short time in the 20th century. Austria now has adopted a Mozart tune for its national anthem. The boundaries in Europe have been drawn and re-drawn over the centuries, and the area in which Haydn lived and worked in the late 1700s is part of present-day Croatia.

The theme that he composed was based on Croatian folk melodies and was also inspired by the English anthem, "God Save the King." It was written for Kasier Franz II and named "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser" (God Save Franz the Emperor).

So the letter from Jon Walters is correct in asserting the Croatian origin, and the audience members who were wondering about the tune being the German national anthem were also correct. Isn't it nice, that we were all right?

Maria Allison


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