Haydn and the harpsichord

Does anyone know where I can get a copy of the secular cantata “Da qual gioja improvvisa” by Haydn? It features a brilliant concertato part for the harpsichord as well as a jaw-dropping coloratura soprano part. Fine music.

I believe this is one of three occasional cantatas celebrating Nikolaus, with a similar format.

I already have Qual dubbio omai, published by Doblinger.

I do not know the name of the third. Does anyone know?

I found nothing on IMSLP or WorldCat.

I have a big interest in Haydn. I am engraving a complete edition of the string quartets from the Paris Bonaparte edition, to provide players a different experience to modem editions.

Henle Verlag publishes the Joseph Haydn Werke complete edition. I was unable to see the works you refer to there but you could write and ask them. I’d wager they are in there somewhere.

In fact, is it not this?


  • Cantata in G Hob. XXIVa:2

  • Cantata in C Hob. XXIVa:3

  • Cantata in A Hob. XXIVa:4

There was indeed in the mid-1990s a CD album entitled “Haydn’s Harpsichord Music Before 1770” which I madly coveted! Perhaps it’s still in circulation (albeit expensively) or may be due for a reissue as many fine older recordings have enjoyed more recently? A gorgeous compromise recorded by Jerôme Hantaï on the Ambroisie label features a number of Haydn’s works on one of the rare extant fortepianos by Pascal Taskin. In this case, his 1788 instrument preserved at the Cité de la Musique collection in Paris - the only other Taskin fortepiano I’m aware of resides at the Château de Versailles. It’s a delightful disc, catalogue number AMB9975 for anyone who may be interested.

Kind wishes to you all,


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I think the OP was after the score, not a recording, is that not so Keith?


First, you are right. I was looking for performance scores, not CDs. I am in the enviable position of being able to produce and perform these works.

Second, it’s very possible the Henle volume you suggest contains the cantata. Cross-referencing the Hoboken numbers listed there with the IMSLP list of Haydn works, I do not see “Da Qual Gioja Improvisa” listed. It may be another name for "Destatevi O miei fidi " or “Al tuo arrivo felice”. In any case, my understanding is that most (all?) of these secular cantatas feature obbligato harpsichord parts so this volume is well worth looking up in any case. Thanks!

I am also intrigued by Adam’s recommendation of “Haydn’s Harpsichord Music Before 1770”. I’ll be on the lookout for that! In my current understanding, the works during the 1760’s are for harpsichord; too soon for fortepiano even as an option. In my “Qual dubbio” cantata, Haydn is explicit: “cembalo obligato” (sic).

| KeithWomer
April 10 |

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In my current understanding, the works during the 1760’s are for harpsichord; too soon for fortepiano even as an option.

Although this is only part of a complex picture including patrons’ instruments, pupils’ instruments, instruments with which he was depicted, and undocumented instruments, it might be helpful to note Haydn’s known instruments and the dates he acquired them:
1775: Shudi & Broadwood harpsichord, 2 manuals, with machine stop and Venetian swell (CC-f’‘’)
1794: Bohak clavichord (FF-f’‘’)
1794-5: Longman & Broderip pianoforte (FF-c’‘’').

Upon further research, I found a performance of the Henle cantatas on Apple Music.

And indeed “Da Qual Gioja Improvivsa” is part of “Al Tuo Arrivo Felice” Hob. XXIVa:3.

Mystery solved. Now I have to start saving the pennies to purchase the Henle volume!

Lewis, thanks for this. It’s insightful.

What I found very interesting is that the 1775 Schudi & Broadwood included a Venetian swell, which perhaps explains the use of harpsichord in Haydn sonatas that call for more than two volume levels.

How many instruments today are built with Venetian shades? Isn’t it odd that our HIP practices eschew them? Anybody know any YouTube or CD’s that use them?

Granted it is my speculation, but I would surely think Haydn had a fortepiano available for his use at Esterhazy while serving Nicholas, who died in 1790. Such an instrument could be undocumented, as you note. Just IMO not likely in the 1760’s.

Well I have built 2 Kirckmans with Venetian swells. They are a lot of work and add quite a lot of weight to the finished instrument which is, of course, heavy anyway so it is not something to be considered lightly. They are not too difficult to make but there is quite a lot of blacksmith’s work which is not something that all makers relish. I had some pointers from Dave Law who has also made one but essentially I copied originals, working in much the same way as the original makers would have done. No drawing. I have also made machine stops. Both of these devices have tended to be thought of as decadent by the HIP brigade but that is a misunderstanding; but that is a much bigger topic. When they work they are useful and when they are available they should be used but most players seem to be afraid of them - for various reasons, some of them quite reasonable.

Huw Saunders

The album “Haydn: Harpsichord Sonatas from Before 1770” is performed by the delightful Jacques Ogg on the Globe label. It is available for streaming on Qobuz and Tidal.


Thanks! Ogg’s album was also on Spotify. What refreshing playing. Makes me smile.

There’s also an album by Corti. An admirable player, but IMO a bit fussy here.

I’m still waiting for one on a harpsichord featuring Venetian blinds!

And of course the full and excellent recording by Schornsheim.
However, I strongly disagree (on the bases of titles, dates, dedicatees and their relationships with Haydn’s biographical data re instruments he owned) with some of her instrument choices.
I believe that quite a few sonatas she recorded on the fortepiano were meant for the harpsichord instead.