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Lamkin illuminates the life of Haydn

Professor Kathleen Lamkin was interviewed by BBC Radio about her most recent trip to Austria. For more than 20 years Lamkin has been associated with a classical music festival in Austria to honor Joseph Haydn, one of her favorite composers. Lamkin, a pianist and violinist since early childhood, plays violin in the orchestra at the festival. / photo by Erin Maxwell

Professor Kathleen Lamkin was interviewed by BBC Radio about her most recent trip to Austria. For more than 20 years Lamkin has been associated with a classical music festival in Austria to honor Joseph Haydn, one of her favorite composers. Lamkin, a pianist and violinist since early childhood, plays violin in the orchestra at the festival. / photo by Erin Maxwell

Dan Sayles
Copy Editor

BBC Radio called on the University of La Verne Professor Kathleen Lamkin for her expertise and research of classical music composer Joseph Haydn during a Sept. 18 performance of “Heroic Vienna,” performed by the BBC National Chorus and the Orchestra of Wales.

Lamkin was notified of the interview two weeks prior, when BBC Radio producer Michael Surcombe called and interviewed her briefly about Haydn, before inviting her to be a special guest interviewed during the concert, primarily on her research during her trips to Eisenstadt, Germany, at Castle Forchtenstein, which housed thousands of documents.

“(We) wanted to know more about the musicians that worked with Haydn,” Lamkin said.

During the interview, Lamkin was questioned about not just Haydn’s musical works, but his interaction with musicians and the Esterházy estate to which he was employed, detailing payment to him and his musicians, and demonstrating Haydn’s efforts in negotiating with the Esterházy prince.

Although not containing any musical composition and works by Haydn, the castle housed many interesting facts about Haydn’s employ to the Esterházy family and the musicians he had worked with, according to Lamkin, who spent time in the castle.

According to research, the Esterházy estate employed musicians, some freelance, and often paid them in material things, such as food, firewood, and housing in addition to monetary payment.

“We found documents that Haydn wrote to the prince, asking for higher wages, and providing freelance musicians shelter,” Lamkin said. “It gave us a lot of insight.”

Because of Haydn’s negotiations with his employers, he had gained a reputation for supporting his fellow musicians, as evidenced in his musical genius and wit in the composing of his “Farewell Symphony,” in which musicians performed, and then left during the performance and blew out their candles, until only a violin remained, in a show of protest against the Esterházy prince’s reluctance to grant the musicians leave to visit their families.

“She is a great teacher,” said Music Department Coordinator Steven Biondo.

Because of the lack of modern lighting and equipment inside the castle, Lamkin and her colleagues had to use extension cords and an uncovered lamp for light, had only one room with proper heating, and dealt with stacks upon stacks of papers tied together with rope, according to Lamkin.

“She is one of the most respected scholars on Haydn,” said Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Jonathan Reed. “Her book on Haydn was first-rate.”

Lamkin’s interview was also an indication of how expertise in a field is greatly enhanced thanks to the focus on faculty research, according to Reed.

Dan Sayles can be reached at dan.sayles@laverne.edu.

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