|Mr. Robbins Landon did much to popularize the composer, inspiring the foundation of the Haydn Society, editing scores, and publishing a book on Haydn’s 108 symphonies in 1955. (Eddie Brown/ English Haydn Festival, Bridgnorth)|
H.C. Robbins Landon, 83; pioneering expert on Haydn
LONDON - H.C. Robbins Landon, a musicologist noted for his pioneering research on Franz Joseph Haydn and for writing popular works on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, has died at 83.
Records at the town hall in Rabastens in southern France, where Mr. Robbins Landon lived with his companion, Marie-Noelle Raynal-Bechetoille, show that he died Friday at age 83.
Officials at the town hall would not provide details about the cause of death or funeral ceremonies, citing the family’s wish for privacy.
Mr. Robbins Landon moved from his native America to Europe in the late 1940s to pursue research on Haydn.
He did much to popularize the composer, inspiring the foundation of the Haydn Society, editing music scores, and publishing a book on Haydn’s 108 symphonies in 1955.
The society produced many first recordings of Haydn’s works, and Mr. Robbins Landon was involved from 1969 to 1973 in Decca’s recordings of all the Haydn symphonies, conducted by Antal Dorati.
Mr. Robbins Landon could not claim a similar role in popularizing the famous Mozart, but books such as “1791: Mozart’s Last Year,’’ published in 1988, brought the musicologist to the attention of a wider audience and earned lucrative royalties.
His reputation took a knock in 1993 when he vouched for the authenticity of what were thought to be six newly discovered piano sonatas by Haydn, but which proved to a hoax perpetrated by a living German composer.
Harold Chandler Robbins Landon was born in Boston in 1926.
His interest in Haydn was fired by his studies at Boston University with Karl Geiringer between 1945-47.
He then went to Vienna and, anticipating he would soon be drafted, persuaded the US Army to take him on as a researcher on an official history of the Fifth Army and the liberation of Italy.
In 1949 he returned to Boston and joined with friends to found the Haydn Society, which quickly produced the first recording of Haydn’s “Harmoniemesse.’’
He returned to Vienna, where one of his early triumphs was discovering the original parts of Mozart’s opera “Idomeneo.’’
Mr. Robbins Landon also solved the Vienna Philharmonic’s difficulty with the high pitch of the horn parts in Haydn’s 56th symphony. He realized that Haydn wrote for horns pitched an octave higher, and he had some copies made.
That episode was recalled in his memoir, “Horns in High C: A Memoir of Musical Discoveries and Adventures,’’ published in 1999.
Much of his work was done in Hungary, where the papers of Haydn’s patrons, the Esterhazy family, had recently come into the possession of the National Library in Budapest. Mr. Robbins Landon’s status as a correspondent for The Times newspaper of London helped open doors in Hungary, then a communist state.
His publications include “The Collected Correspondence and London Notebooks of Joseph Haydn’’ (1959); “Beethoven: A Documentary Biography’’ (1970); “Essays on the Viennese Classical Style: Gluck, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven’’ (1970); Macmillan, 1970; “Mozart and the Masons’’ (1983); “Handel and His World’’ (1984); “Five Centuries of Music in Venice’’ (1991); and “Mozart and Vienna’’ (1991).
Else Radant, his former wife, paid tribute to him.
“He was a very social person, a very warm person, interested in people and very energetic,’’ Radant told the Associated Press by telephone from Vienna.
She recalled their first meeting, at an opera in Switzerland in 1957, and her own work digging in libraries and archives for his Haydn research. The two separated in 1994 and last saw each other four years ago, she said.
Radant, 83, called it a “terrible shock’’ when she heard about his passing on a Vienna radio station. “They did a nice program about my husband,’’ she said.