Haydn: The Creation

Whilst visiting England and listening to Handel's large-scale oratorios (including Israel in Egypt), Franz Joseph Haydn was inspired to write Die Schöpfung (The Creation) in 1797 and 1798, depicting the creation of the world from the Jewish and Christian standpoint, as described in the Book of Genesis.

Gottfried van Swieten's libretto is based on Genesis, the Book of Psalms and the seventeenth century epic poem Paradise Lost by John Milton.

The oratorio's first performance was in Vienna on 30 April 1798, in private, although many people listened from outside the old Schwarzenberg Palace. The first public performance, again in Vienna, was on 19 March 1799, and the work was published the following year with text in both German and English.

In three parts, and scored for soprano, tenor and bass soloists with SATB chorus and large classical orchestra, the work takes approximately 105 minutes to perform.

There were more than eighty performances during Haydn's lifetime, including those in Austria, England, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA, and the last one Haydn attended, about a year before he died, was on 27 March 1808.

The work remains exceedingly popular, especially the moment of the lighting up of the planet: 'and God said: let there be light; and there was light' and the chorus Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes (The heavens are telling the glory of God).


A selection of articles about Haydn: The Creation

Ensemble. Stewards of Creation - Haydn's 'The Creation' marks Harry Christophers' final concert with Boston's Handel and Haydn Society, heard by John Dante Prevedini

Ensemble. An Italian Creation - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Giuseppe Carpani's Italian language version of Haydn's oratorio

Ensemble. From Chaos to Ecstasy - Haydn's 'The Creation' in Rome, reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi

Ensemble. Magisterial Creativity - Patrick Maxwell visits London to hear Haydn's 'The Creation' at the BBC Proms

Ensemble. Held Spellbound - Haydn's 'Die Schöpfung' in Wellington, New Zealand, heard by Howard Smith

Ensemble. Expert Young Performers - Haydn's 'Creation' at Harrow School, heard by Robert Anderson

CD Spotlight. Varied Moods - The Icicle Creek Piano Trio, heard by Robert Anderson. '... admirably captured ...'

Ensemble. Crisp and Lively - Haydn's Creation, reviewed by Mike Wheeler

CD Spotlight. Joyously Guiltfree - Haydn's 'Creation', heard by Robert Anderson. 'Haydn is on top form throughout ...'

Book Review. A Lordly Survey - Nick Strimple's 'Choral Music in the Nineteenth Century', reviewed by Robert Anderson