Haydn‘s travels in England introduced him to the local musical scene, and he was present in the performances of several Handel works, including oratorios. He was fascinated by Handel’s oratorios and, although he had written a few before, the use of the chorus, the orchestra, the choir and the solo voice to dramatic effect was a new experience for him. Peter Salomon, the organiser of Haydn’s first trip to England, showed him a text by the poet Thomas Linley (1733-1795) entitled The Creation of the World, based on John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Handel had already been given this text, but he found it too meticulous and detailed, so he ignored it.
Haydn, on the other hand, was captivated by the detailed natural imagery and took it back to Vienna with him. There, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, diplomat, literary man and a central figure in Viennese musical life, translated it into German and added a few psalm quotations. Its first performance outside Vienna took place on 8 March 1800 in Buda, conducted by Haydn, as part of the wedding and birthday celebrations of Palatine Joseph and Alexandra Pavlovna Romanova. The play was so popular in Hungary that in 1820 a street was named after it – mistakenly translated as “Alkotás” (meaning “artwork”) in Budapest.
The musical work consists of 34 movements in all and it employs three vocal soloists (soprano, tenor and bass) and a full mixed choir. The first part is about the first four days of creation, the second about the fifth and sixth days, while the third part is about the first human couple, Adam and Eve.
Admission to the concert is free!