With the Purcell Choir turning 30 years old, what could be a better celebration than a performance of Haydn 's massive oratorio The Creation? György Vashegyi founded the choir in 1990 for a concert performance of Dido and Aeneas. Ever since the Orfeo Orchestra was established the following year, the two ensembles have gone on together to make themselves Hungary's leading presenters of early music.
Joseph Haydn's oratorio Die Schöpfung ('The Creation') is one of the most important works in the history of European music. Its first performance (which was not open to the public, as only invited guests attended) took place at Vienna's Schwarzenberg Palace in 1798. The world première of the work (conducted by Haydn himself), along with the first public concert that followed, received tremendous acclaim, and the oratorio exerted just as immeasurable influence on Haydn't contemporaries as i...t has on posterity, remaining to this day perhaps the composer's most popular composition. We Hungarians would do well to recall the often forgotten fact that the first performance of the masterpiece outside Vienna took place in the Buda Castle, on 8 March 1800, where Haydn himself conducted the work's Hungarian première after an extensive rehearsal process. This concert was part of the celebrations of the wedding of Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna (which also included a piano recital by Ludwig van Beethoven at the Castle Theatre on 7 May 1800). The memory of the concert is preserved to this day in the name of Buda's Alkotás Street, which was the word used in Hungarian at the time to translate the oratorio's title.
In the spring of 2005, the Purcell Choir and Orfeo Orchestra played The Creation on period instruments for the first time in Hungary since Haydn's première. Reflecting on the work and that first performance, Vashegyi said, 'That concert at the Liszt Academy of Music was followed by another in Fertőszentmiklós at the end of the summer, which we also recorded. We also played it several times in 2009, the bicentenary of Haydn's death, when it became an integral part of our repertoire. We would like to dedicate tonight's concert to the memory of the Hungarian première in the Buda Castle, which took place almost exactly 220 years ago.
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