the joke’s on you!

happy april the first. what more fitting than haydn’s “the joke” string quartet, right?

to be brutally honest, i am not a fan of april fools. some of the pranks are actually quite demeaning, and i really do not like the idea of making other people look like fools. for me, it’s okay to make a fool of yourself, but it’s never okay to make a fool of other people. plus, you never know what their stories hold.

anyways, less personal, more musical.

title: string quartet in e-flat major (“the joke”), op. 33, no. 2
movement: presto (fourth)
composer: joseph haydn
year: 1781

(hint: you have to listen to the entire thing to understand the joke)
(another hint: … actually, i’ll just let you in on the joke)

this movement is in rondo form (which means there’s a theme that recurs every so often, like ABACA) and ends with a coda (kind of like the tail/conclusion of a piece of music). what haydn does in the coda is he brings back the playful theme from A, but fragments it. each break between the fragments gets progressively longer, leaving the audience to wonder whether the piece is done yet. the biggest joke, though is yet to come. haydn just leaves the audience trailing and wondering with the restatement of the beginning theme, but does not complete it. it just ends there. kind of like ending in mid sentence.
“the fox ran over the”
like that.

if you take a listen you will definitely understand what i’m talking about.
nice little joke you have there, haydn. too bad the work was premiered on christmas day rather than on april fools.

that’s all for now.

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