The Symphonies of Michael Haydn could be helped join the standard repertoire by the addition of nicknames. It worked for Joseph...
If I say "Symphony No. 33 by Joseph Haydn," there is precisely one musical composition that I am referring to. But if I say "Symphony No. 33 by Michael Haydn," there are four or five different pieces I could be referring to.
The situation for Joseph Haydn was not always as clear-cut. To this day, we can find in libraries and used book stores traces of the various different ways that were used to tell apart the many different Symphonies he wrote. But thanks in part to the witty if sometimes irrelevant nicknames people gave Joseph Haydn's Symphonies, these works came to be appreciated to the point that one catalog (Hoboken's) could become the standard and clear up the confusion, enabling each of Joseph's hundred-odd Symphonies to be recognized for its own merits.
Michael Haydn wrote some forty-odd Symphonies of great vitality and lyricism, but due to the catalog confusions, to most people these remain just a bunch of undifferentiated though competent compositions. With nicknames, many of these could grab a greater hold on the public's attention. Not all need nicknames: the one in D minor, being Michael Haydn's only one in a minor key, for example, can do without a nickname. But perhaps all his Symphonies in D major need a nickname.
These are the nicknames I have come up with so far (the numbers are from Sherman's catalog with adjustments): 2, Baroque; 4, La Confidenza (that is actually the subtitle of the Andante but it has already been used for the whole Symphony); 7, The Brucknerian; 23, La Veneziana; 27, Hornblipper; 28, Little Pre-Jupiter; 32, L'Aragonesa; 33, Foghorn; 37, Eroica-Espansiva; 38, Pastoral; 39, Big Pre-Jupiter.
To publicize these, I would like to put up a discography website showing the nicknames, and cutting through the confusion of numbering, renumbering and misnumbering. Of course I would also like to put on a concert, maybe with Michael Haydn's "Foghorn" Symphony and my own Horn Concerto. But concerts are extremely difficult to raise money for. Just the website will have to do for now.
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