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Haydn's Sunrise, Beethoven's ShadowAudiovisual Culture and the Emergence of Musical Romanticism$
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Deirdre Loughridge

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226337098

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226337128.001.0001

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Haydn’s Creation as Moving Image

Haydn’s Creation as Moving Image

(p.163) Four Haydn’s Creation as Moving Image
Haydn's Sunrise, Beethoven's Shadow

Deirdre Loughridge

University of Chicago Press

This chapter looks at the reception of Haydn’s Creation to show the entry of visual technologies into musical discourse, and the consequences for aesthetic judgment. Johann Triest found the oratorio like a magic lantern, a damning comparison: the magic lantern was a vulgar entertainment, and merely mechanical in operation. Carl Friedrich Zelter, by contrast, drew on the more refined shadow-play to redeem the oratorio’s visual appeal. For Zelter, likening The Creation to technological spectacles such as the shadow-play aligned the work with modern successes at controlling nature, and supported the image of Haydn as a master of tones. While Haydn’s use of tone-painting in The Creation was censured by early critics and has been a focus for modern scholars, comparisons of the work to moving-image entertainments point beyond the issue of musical imitation to other dimensions (such as patterns of alternation between voice and orchestra) that carried visual associations for turn-of-the-nineteenth-century listeners. Through its polarized reception, Haydn’s Creation helped establish the vexed relation of musical works to moving images in the nineteenth century, as novel music-image presentations like the nocturnorama drew inspiration from the oratorio, and critics voiced suspicion of anything visual-mechanical encroaching upon the musical.

Keywords:   Joseph Haydn, The Creation, magic lantern, shadow play, philosophical entertainment

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