“Why Haydn?” by Calvin R. Stapert


Calvin R. Stapert is professor emeritus of music at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and author of the new book Playing Before the Lord: The Life and Work of Joseph Haydn.

* * *

“Why a book on Haydn?”

I’ve been asked this question many times and by many different people since I began work on Playing Before the Lord.

Some who asked, especially if they knew my pre-modern inclinations, perhaps wondered why I was wandering into modernity. Most, however, were probably wondering why I hadn’t chosen Mozart, or Beethoven, or Brahms, or . . .

If I were going to write about one of the giants of “classical” music, they wondered, why choose Haydn? Isn’t he somewhat of a light weight— less worthy, less important, less interesting than so many other famous composers?

Such thinking isn’t new. It’s an inheritance from the 19th century, when…

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