comes down to posterity carrying some powerful testimonials.
to the music publisher Artaria in 1787, Haydn told him of “a
young Viennese composer by the name of Joseph Eybler” who, he
declared, was “very promising, plays the pianoforte well, and
knows a great deal about composition”. In 1790 Haydn was writing
of Eybler’s “outstanding talents” and affirming that “he possesses
... all the musical and theoretical knowledge necessary to pass
with distinction the most difficult examination of any musical
the same year, Mozart gave him a pretty impressive reference
the undersigned, attest herewith that I have found the bearer
of this, Herr Joseph Eybler, to be a worthy pupil of his famous
master Albrechtsberger, a well-grounded composer, equally skilled
in chamber music and the church style, fully experienced in
the art of song, also an accomplished organ and clavier player,
in short a young musician such, one can only regret, as so seldom
has his equal”.
was appointed deputy Hofkapellmeister (under Salieri) in 1804.
In 1824 he succeeded Salieri as Hofkapellmeister. He was distantly
related to the Haydns and became a friend of Mozart – he helped
to coach the singers in preparation for the premiere of Cosi
fan Tutte, and helped to nurse Mozart at the end
of his life. Indeed, Constanze initially asked him to complete
the requiem – a task he felt unable to undertake.
all their recommendations of him, Haydn and Mozart might also
be said to have done Eybler a disservice. Until recent years,
interest in their music has put that of Eybler almost wholly
into the shadows. But, in the last few years, there have been
recordings of some of his church music (see review),
his two symphonies (see review)
and of his chamber music. Indeed Donald Satz chose an earlier
recording of the String Trio as one of his recordings of 2005
of these recordings have been well-received and Eybler looks
to be well on the way to renewed recognition. And so he should
be. He is evidently a composer of real interest and ability
- as Haydn and Mozart told us! Naturally, his music belongs
securely within the traditions of Viennese classicism, but it
is not without its attractive idiosyncracies.
string quintet, for example, employs the rare – possibly unique
– instrumental line-up of violin, two violas, cello and double
bass. The resulting emphasis on the lower registers gives a
distinctively rich texture to the music, port rather than wine.
The writing for the violas is particularly fine. Though the
violin gets most of the solo space the other instruments are
not neglected. The six movements of what is, in effect, a divertimento
for string quintet, are characterised by a beguiling mixture
of gravity and charm and there’s no shortage of ideas – whether
melodic, rhythmic or colouristic. The whole is a delight, from
beginning to end. The first time I listened to it, I played
it straight through again.
trio has real merits too and, like, the quintet, more than a
few echoes of Haydn. Not specific borrowings so much as the
exploitation of compositional ideas and devices which had, effectively,
originated with that great master. Again, the presence of the
viola, rather than the expected second violin, contributes a
freshness of texture to the piece.
Deutsches Streichtrio and their colleagues give assured and
idiomatic performances of this music. I haven’t heard the recording
praised by Donald Satz, so I am unable to make any recommendation
as to which which would be the better purchase. Suffice it to
say that no one interested in the chamber music of the Viennese
classical tradition is likely to regret the purchase of this