Haydn with piano and timpani rolls

Haydn, a genius?

Joseph Haydn was a man of immense wealth: he possessed creativity, grace, happiness, health, humor, good taste, a strong character, a warm heart, tranquility and vitality, originality, a sharp mind, independence, depth, clarity, knowledge, and experience. At least, that’s what Ferdinand Hiller wrote in 1877 when most of that generation’s commentators described Haydn as childish, simplistic, and hollow.

Everyone is free to make up their own minds during Anima Eterna’s live concert on 23 June 2021, in the Concertgebouw in Bruges. Two examples of Haydn’s opulent oeuvre will be performed—the Symphony No. 103 and the Piano Concerto in D major. The Symphony was written in the rather solemn key of E flat major, but it surprises listeners again and again with its “con spirito” and “piu testo Allegretto.” Haydn always managed to combine seriousness with openness and positivism. This Symphony is nicknamed “The Drumroll.” But is that serious or playful?

Lyricism and virtuosity are combined in the popular Piano Concerto in D major. The Flemish Lucas Blondeel, professor in Berlin, will be the soloist, playing a striking facsimile of an Anton Walter fortepiano made by Christopher Clarke. Walter was the Imperial Royal Instrument Maker and tuner for Prince Esterhazy, who was Haydn’s boss in a manner of speaking, so this piano is right at home. The piece is truly a gem among piano concertos, with its sparkling and shimmering first movement, a lovely, lyrical second movement, and an effervescent finale, the Rondo all’Ungarese.


Jos van Immerseel

Translated by E. J. Stevens

Series “Anima Eterna Brugge plays Haydn”

In preparation for our concert in Concertgebouw Brugge on June 23th 2021, Jos van Immerseel unravels the secrets of a special fortepiano: Anton Walter fascimile built by Christopher Clarke (Cluny, 1988). In this three part series van Immerseel takes you under his wing. Watch the episodes below (with English subtitles):


In episode 2 van Immerseel dismantles the fortepiano:

In episode 3 van Immerseel explains the craftsmanship of the 18th century instrument maker Anton Walter and contemporary piano builder Christopher Clarke.


Experimenting with the set up of the orchestra has unexpected and interesting results. If you have a close look at the photos of our rehearsal you’ll see the violins, viola’s, cello’s and basses all standing mixed up. The winds at the front are also divided and not organised per instrument family. At Haydn’s time the orchestral set up as we know it today was not at all fixed.


Back in 2009 the audience in Flagey Brussels was overwelmed by the sound of the Anton Walter fortepiano made by Christopher Clarke. In the archives of VRT (Flemish Radio and Television) we found this short clip. You’ll hear the third movement “Rondo all’Ungarese” from the Piano Concerto in D major.


This project was made possible with funding support from Tax Shelter by Government of Flanders.