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This paper aims at assessing the issue of both the English language and the English tradition of Haydn’s oratorios Die Schöpfung/The Creation (1796-98) and Die Jahreszeiten/The Seasons (1799-1801). Indeed, the English origin of each of the two texts, either directly written as an English libretto meant to be set to music (Charles Jennens’s text, probably meant for Handel and later to be translated by Gottfried van Swieten) or as the adaptation of James Thomson’s poetical work The Seasons accounts not only for the long-lasting popularity of the two works, but also for the ineradicable belief that Haydn’s masterpieces are essentially English works. As many commercial recordings show, the English version of Haydn’s text is still currently performed today, and many scholars and performers contend that this is how it should be done.


The paper thus focuses on the Englishness of Haydn’s two oratorios, especially as far as the verbal text is concerned. It examines several versions of the English “libretto” of The Creation – indeed, in order to be adequately performed, the original English always had to be slightly modified, according to criteria that differ greatly when seen from a diachronic point of view… –, as well as the several existing translations of G. van Swieten’s adaptation, translation or rewriting of J. Thomson’s famous poem. Again, the different translations display a certain amount of variability in their various authors’ willingness to return, or not, to Thomson’s original text.

Joseph Haydn und Europa

N° 7 f

Pierre Degott

Université Paul Verlaine-Metz

The issue of the English language in Haydn’s German oratorios

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Préface

Gottfried Scholz
Gottfried Scholz - Gottfried von Swieten und Joseph Haydn

Jean-Marc Leblanc
Jean-Marc Leblanc - La musique de Haydn dans les traités en France

Suzel Esquier
Suzel Esquier - Haydn et ses biographes

Christine Siegert
Christine Siegert - Opera buffa als spätabsolutische Repräsentation

David Gasche
David Gasche - Bearbeitungen für Harmoniemusik

Pierre Degott
Pierre Degott - English language in Haydn’s German oratorios

János Poór
János Poór - Haydns Ungarn

Lukas Haselböck
Lukas Haselböck - Vivaldi und Haydn

Gerold Gruber
Gerold Gruber - Joseph Haydn - Kick off - Event

Albert Gier
Albert Gier - Joseph Haydn und die Libretti seiner Opern

Gerhard Winkler
Gerhard Winkler - „Gott erhalte“ – Rossini – Paris 1825

János Kalmar
János Kalmar - Nikolaus II. Esterházy

Ulrike Anton
Ulrike Anton - Johann Nepomuk Hummel