Franz Joseph Haydn: Having the ‘Last Word’ at Blair

haydnThe Blair School of Music is opening its 2013-14 performance season in high style this weekend, presenting the original orchestral version of Haydn’s masterpiece Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross.

Commissioned around 1786 for a Good Friday performance at Cádiz Cathedral in Spain, this miraculous nine-movement work contains some of the most wrenching (and life-affirming) music ever written. Haydn composed seven ruminative adagios – labeled “sonatas” in the score – for each of Christ’s last seven words (or sayings). A short introduction opens the piece, and it concludes with a furious finale titled “Earthquake.”

“The last movement contains one of the first triple fortes in the orchestral repertoire,” says Dean Whiteside, the conductor of this weekend’s concert with the Nashville Sinfonietta. “It’s really one of the most dramatic pieces I know.”

The concert is 8 p.m. Saturday at Ingram Hall at Blair, 2400 Blakemore Ave. My interview with Whiteside is published in this week’s Nashville Scene.

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About John Pitcher

John Pitcher is the chief classical music, jazz and dance critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He has been a classical music critic for the Washington Post, the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, National Public Radio’s Performance Today (NPR), and the Nashville Scene. His writings about music and the arts have also appeared in Symphony Magazine, American Record Guide and Stagebill Magazine, among other publications. Pitcher earned his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied arts writing with Judith Crist and Phyllis Garland. His work has received the New York State Associated Press award for outstanding classical music criticism.


  1. Looking forward to it. Hope to see you all there: