Joseph Haydn • Sieben letzte Worte unseres Erlösers
JOSEPH HAYDN • Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers
am Kreuze, Hob XX/1:B
End of concert approx. 4:30 p.m.
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Around 1785, Joseph Haydn was commissioned by one of the canons in Cádiz in Spain to write music for the Good Friday service, in order to intensify the contemplation of the “seven last words of our Redeemer on the cross” through music, allowing them to linger on in the listener. The bishop was to mount to the pulpit, read one of the phrases, interpret it and then kneel before the altar in prayer, while a meditative piece of music was to be performed. “It was certainly one of the hardest tasks” – Haydn reported – “to have seven adagios follow one another without an underlying text, growing from free imagination alone, without tiring the listener, but instead evoking all the feelings in him which were aligned with the meaning of each of the utterances of the dying Saviour.” Starting with a melody appropriate to the phrase in question, in each of the meditations Haydn explores all aspects the term “sacrifice” or “victim” implies from the mild “Father, forgive them” to the desperate “My God, why hast thou forsaken me” to the trusting “Father, into thy hands I command my spirit”, the suffering of Christ on the cross becomes distressingly comprehensible – or, in Haydn’s words, “expressed in such a manner that even the most inexperienced will be left with the deepest impression upon his soul”.