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Philharmonic salutes a forgotten genius

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Known as “the father of the symphony,” Joseph Haydn lies somewhat forgotten because of the great geniuses who followed him.

“He wrote 104 symphonies,” New Mexico Philharmonic conductor Roberto Minczuk said. “He’s kind of unappreciated because after him came these two monsters – Mozart and Beethoven.”

The orchestra will play the composer’s Symphony No. 45, “Farewell,” at Albuquerque Academy’s Simms Center, along with works by Handel.

(Haydn) “was such a creative guy,” Minczuk said. “He was in the (Austrian) court, so he had to produce music constantly. This quality of music was played for the court while they wined and dined.”

The “Farewell” is one of Haydn’s best-known works.

“Each musician would have on their music stand a candle so they could read the music,” Minczuk said. “You can just picture how charming that would be back in the 18th century. It’s one of the most-loved symphonies.”

The musicians also will play selections from Handel’s “Messiah,” his “Air” from “The Water Music” and “Lascia ch’io pianga” from the opera “Rinaldo.”

Sarah Nickerson

Sarah Nickerson

Mezzo-soprano Sarah Nickerson will solo on the latter.

“We all know (Handel) for his oratorios, especially ‘Messiah,’ ” Minczuk said. “He wrote numerous operas as well.”

Composed in 1711, “Rinaldo”was the first Italian-language opera written specifically for the London stage.

Nickerson is a Santa Fe-based singer active in oratorio, chamber music, choral work and musical theater. She has performed with the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, the Kinnara Ensemble and Albuquerque’s Chatter.