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Haydn in Massachusetts

In commemoration of the bicentennial of his death in 1809







Some of the best known works by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) received their first United States performances in Massachusetts or were among the earliest performances in the USA.


Haydn's music in the World's Peace Jubilee

First performances in Massachusetts

First performances in Boston

First Performances in Stoughton

Oldest choral society in the U.S.



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Haydn's music in the World's Peace Jubilee



It was not the first U.S. performance but one choral number by Haydn was featured during the "monster concerts" of the World's Peace Jubilee and International Music Festival held in Boston in June of 1872. It was "The Heavens Are Telling" from Haydn's, The Creation [see below].








First Performances

Listed below are first performances of Haydn's music in
Boston, Stoughton, and Canton,
compiled by music preservationist and composer,

Roger Lee Hall.


The works are listed in the chronological sequence of their first performances in the United States, or in Massachusetts.

The information was compiled from H. Earle Johnson's reference book, First Performances in America to 1900: Works with Orchestra, also from other documents.

America’s first prominent music critic, John Sullivan Dwight (1813-1893), founded the most important and influential music publication in America, Dwight’s Journal of Music (1852-1881). This is what was published in that journal on Saturday, January 17, 1880 about a Mozart symphony,and also mentions Haydn:

The Mozart Symphony, one of several in D, and without Minuet, is a lovely composition, spontaneous, melodious, unmistakably clear in it intentions. You do not have to ask yourself whether you understand it, or whether you really like it, as you do after almost every recent work. There it stands, positive and perfect, which is only saying that it is by Mozart; with him it is no painful climbing to a would-be heaven of invention; in that heaven of harmony he lives and breathes at home, and what he composes is beyond criticism…With simpler means Mozart could express more than the moderns with their monster orchestras, and from fewer instruments evoke, not seldom, a more satisfying sonority; and so could Haydn.

First Performances in Boston

+ = First United States performance = 10 works
++ = First performance in Boston = 6 works


++Oratorio: The Creation (1798-1800)
16 February 1819, Boylston Hall, Handel & Haydn Society,
Benjamin Holt, conductor
[Part I had been performed on 1 April; Part II, 3 April; and Part III, 4 April 1817.]

+Symphony No. 103 in E ("Drum Roll")(1795) -
29 May 1823, Boylston Hall, Philo-harmonic and Handel & Haydn Societies, A.P. Heinrich, conductor

+Symphony No. 100 in G ("Military")(1794) -
1 May 1825, Boylston Hall, Benefit of Gottlieb Graupner

+War ("Nelson") Mass in D minor
28 February 1829, Concert Hall, Handel & Haydn Society,
Lowell Mason, conductor

++Symphony No. 45 in F# minor ("Farewell")
4 March 1848, Tremont Temple, Musical Fund Society,
Thomas Comer, conductor

+Symphony No. 101 in D ("Clock")(1794) -
19 December 1851, Melodeon, Germania Musical Society,
Carl Bergmann, conductor

+Symphony No. 86 in D (Paris Symphony No. 5)(1786) -
17 February 1855, Music Hall, Musical Fund Socierty - P. Suck, conductor

++Symphony No. 93 in D (London No. 2))(1791) -
23 March 1863, Mercantile Library Hall, Mozart Club, Carl Zerrahn

++Oratorio: The Seasons (1801)
24 March 1866, Unidentified chorus, Benjamin J. Lang, conductor
[Sung in part only. The entire work was not performed until 28 March 1875 with the Handel & Haydn Society, Carl Zerrahn, conductor.]

++Symphony No. 83 in G minor (Paris Symphony No. 2)(1786) -
4 December 1868, Harvard Musical Association,
Carl Zerrahn, conductor

+Symphony No. 99 in E (London No. 5)(1791) -
17 November 1870, Music Hall, Harvard Musical Association,
Carl Zerrahn, conductor

++Symphony No. 84 in Eb (Paris Symphony No. 3)(1786) -
1 December 1872, Harvard Musical Association, Carl Zerrahn

+Symphony No. 92 in G ("Oxford")(1791) -
7 December 1871, Music Hall, Harvard Musical Association,
Carl Zerrahn, conductor

+Cantata: Ariana a Naxos
7 November 1872, Music Hall, Harvard Musical Association,
Carl Zerrahn, conductor

+Symphony No. 82 in C (Paris Symphony No. 1: "The Bear") (1786) -
6 December 1889, Boston Music Hall, Boston Symphony,
Arthur Nikisch, conductor

--- The 'Bear' is a very recent 'find' in Haydn's works; and after last Saturday's experience we think few people will incline to think it an important one. The finale, however, is a gem. It was a pure delight to listen to, especially as it was superbly played.--- Boston Transcript, 8 December.

+Concerto for Cello in D (ca. 1772) -
22 November 1890, Anton Hekking, cello soloist,
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Arthur Nikisch, conductor
--- The Violoncello Concerto by Haydn as a whole is a composition of remarkable dullness and this dullness aggravated by a dreary and long-winded cadenza by Carl Reinecke. Mr. Hekking's performance was a disappointment and unworhty of his abailities. He was loudly applauded.
--- Boston Post, November 24



First Performances in Stoughton and Canton

+++ = first performance = 2 works

Though it had been performed in Boston long before, the first known Haydn performance in Stoughton was:

+++Oratorio: The Creation
9 June 1886, Stoughton Town Hall, Stoughton Musical Society, Hiram Wilde, conductor/ orchestra led by E.A. Jones. It was performed in English in the Centennial Concert of the Stoughton Musical Society.

The entire work was performed again in English on
7 November 1986 for the Bicentennial Concert at Stoughton High School, the soloists, chorus and orchestra conducted by Earl Eyrich.

Another Haydn premiere took place in Canton:

+++Chorus: Te Deum
21 November 1982, Trinity Church, Old Stoughton Musical Society soloists and chorus, Earl Eyrich, conductor

This work was first performed in the special concert celebrating the 250th Anniversary of the births of George Washington and Franz Joseph Haydn. Also performed in the concert was the popular chorus, "The Heavens Are Telling" from The Creation.

Sketch of F.J. Haydn, 1732-1809

A CD is available of the special concert for the 250th anniversaries of the births of George Washington and Franz Joseph Haydn in 1982, performed by soloists and chorus of The Old Stoughton Musical Society, directed by Earl Eyrich.

To order this CD,
"A Toast" -
Music of George Washington's Time

go to:

Society for Earlier American Music



Oldest Choral Society in the U.S.


The Old Stoughton Musical Society is now the oldest choral society in the United States, founded in 1786, one year before the U.S. Constitution was written. It also has the oldest constitution, written in 1787, just a few weeks after the U.S. Constitution. Though this Society has performed music by European composers over the past few centuries, most of the music performed has been by American composers, especially from Massachusetts.


For more information, click on this link:

Singing Stoughton


Should you have questions or comments,
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Haydn in Massachusetts


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