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Earliest "Recorded" Performance?

J. Lee Graham

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Something really rare and special: the mechanical organ playing in the video below may be considered the world's oldest "recording" of a musical performance, forasmuch as Joseph Haydn wrote the music for it and (more importantly) personally supervised its programming in 1793, some 226 years ago!

It provides us with fascinating and valuable clues about Haydn's own performance practices, including phrasing, articulation (many notes are much shorter than we might expect, particularly at the ends of phrases, which are noticeably clipped), tempo, and ornamentation.

The uninterrupted performance by the organ takes place in the second half of the video, after a documentary segment that is itself interesting and informative.  Check it out, and I'll be curious to know what you think!

EDIT:  I found a score for this on IMSLP, so you can follow along if you like.  It turns out that between 1772 and 1793, Haydn wrote no less than 32 pieces for mechanical clock organ.     


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