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In the face of his prodigious output of consistently fine music, it’s easy to take Haydn for granted. We enjoy triumph over adversity and lives cut tragically short, neither of which he suffered. But the story of how a boy with a good voice, one of twelve children born to a poor wheelwright and his wife, became the toast of Vienna, then London, then the known world, and how fame never swelled his clever head, makes the plot of Slumdog Millionaire look commonplace.

Iconic Australian actor John Bell is nearing “Papa” status himself. Who better to personify the spirit of this extraordinary humble Joe in a new musical/theatrical/biographical entertainment by young playwright Rachel McDonald?

Concerts illustrated with a smattering of letters are nothing new. This evening goes much deeper and has to, because Haydn was too busy writing music to bother with many letters. In fact after he died, a burgeoning French novelist pen-named Stendhal, invented some on his behalf. Fake news. Beautifully written, but fake nonetheless.

McDonald skilfully weaves historically confirmed sources, real letters and such romantic re-imaginings into a piece that allows the ever-present, self-deprecating and funny Haydn to recount his life, comment on his posthumous reputation and poignantly reveal some bedroom secrets.

Oh yes, and to re-encounter and admire some of his greatest work, as performed with impeccable eighteenth-century finesse by AHE. You will hear it afresh too, through the ears of its creator. A unique and unmissable event.

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Details correct at the time of publication.

  • Selected works by Joseph Haydn including: 

    Symphony No. 104 in D Major (London)  - I. Adagio - Allegro
    String Quartet: Op. 51 (The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross)  – Sonata No. V in A Major 'Sitio'
    String Quartet: Op. 33 No. 3 in C Major (The Bird) -IV. Finale. Rondo. Presto
    String Quartet: Op. 33 No. 1 in B Minor - II. Scherzo
    String Quartet: Op. 20 No. 3 in G Minor - II. Menuetto. Allegretto
    Symphony No. 93 in D Major arr. Salomon – IV: Finale. Presto ma non troppo
    Symphony No. 100 in G Major (Military) - IV. Finale. Presto
    Symphony No. 63 in C Major (La Roxelane) - II. 'La Roxelane'
    String Quartet: Op. 20 No. 2 in C Major – II. Capriccio. Adagio - Cantabile
    Symphony No. 100 in G Major (Military) - I. Adagio. Allegro
    String Quartet: Op. 76 No. 3 (Emperor) - II. Poco adagio, cantabile
    Symphony No. 104 in D Major (London) - IV. Finale. Spiritoso

  • Artists
    John Bell


    Skye McIntosh
    Matthew Grecco
    Karina Schmitz
    Daniel Yeadon
    Melissa Farrow

    Skye McIntosh & Rachel McDonald

    Script & Adaptation
    Rachel McDonald

    Selections from Haydn String Quarters and Symphonies