Joseph Haydn: The Creation

Haydn’s massive late oratorio The Creation is considered by more than a few to be his great masterpiece, despite the limitations of a rather dubious series of words; the retranslated texts are often either bizarre or forced or both.

Haydn was inspired to create The Creation following his trips to the UK, where he heard the oratorios of Handel still being performed with massive forces. He is quoted as saying that, once in the flow, he begged God to let him be able to finish the work – clearly knowing he was onto a corker.

At one particular performance, just a year before he died, Haydn had to be carried into the hall on a chair to hear his music. As the audience billed and cooed at various sublime sections, Haydn was forced to take the spontaneous applause. He is said to have pointed to the sky, smiled and said, ‘It’s not from me: everything comes from up there!’

Recommended Recording

Heather Harper (soprano); Pamela Bowden (mezzo-soprano); Alexander Young (tenor); John Shirley-Quirk (bass); Choir of King’s College, Cambridge; Academy of St Martin in the Fields; David Willcocks (conductor). EMI Classics: 3759292.