Haydn, Joseph. (1732–1809)

Die Worte des Erlœsers am Kreuz [The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross] [Hob. XX/2]

Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel. [1801]. First. Partitur [orchestral full score]. Oblong folio.  10.75 x 14.125 inches (27 x 36 cm.) Title with engraved vignette (vb); Composer's Preface (March, 1801)(vb); 1-112 pp.  Type-set music, text in German and Italian.  In original orange publisher's wrappers, small nicks and tears to wrappers, else fine. An exceptionally clean and crisp copy. Hoboken 1375 ; RISM H 25.

Haydn's Seven Last Words was conceived as a purely instrumental work in 1787, and is regarded as one of his finest compositions. Upon hearing an arrangement with vocal lines added by Joseph Friebert (1724-1799), Haydn was inspired to write his own version as an oratorio. This would be his first collaboration with Baron von Swieten, who would later pen the librettos for The Creation and The Seasons. The oratorio version premiered on 26 March 1796 at the Schwarzenberg Palace in Vienna. "The Seven Last Words, a success during Haydn’s lifetime and beyond, is less popular today, in part because it is not a full-length work, in part owing to the succession of eight consecutive adagios which, paradoxically, seem more monotonous than in the orchestral version. Its most striking movement is the bleak, newly composed introduction to the second part, scored for wind alone and set in A minor, a key Haydn hardly ever used." (James Webster in Grove Music Online) (21624)