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Kathy Lamkin, Professor of Music and a member of The Academy at the University of La Verne, traces the route Josef Haydn’s music took to reach the new world — well before the British colonists batted around the idea of independence.
Kathy Lamkin, Professor of Music at La Verne, probably would tell you that she’s not exactly obsessed with Josef Haydn, but you might have a hard time believing her, especially considering her upcoming sabbatical.
Lamkin, a member of The Academy at the University of La Verne, will leave soon on a six-week journey to Austria, Germany and England, to continue her lifelong work investigating the life and times of one of history’s pre-eminent composers. A co-founder of the Haydn Society of California, Lamkin was also a charter member of the Haydn Society of North America and has become one of the world’s foremost authorities on the work of the Austrian composer.
“My love of music started when I was a child,” Lamkin said. “Everybody is affected by music. My favorite has always been classical. To me, it’s very deep and expresses something that’s beyond words. You can have all kinds of deep, moving experiences with music.”
Though Lamkin says she’d probably rate Beethoven No. 1 among composers, there was something about Haydn that made him the focus of so much of her studies. Most recently, Lamkin attended her 24th Haydn Festival last September in Eisenstadt, Austria, where she was one of 19 scholars worldwide invited to present at a three-day symposium.
“It was so exciting for me, because it was a huge topic and a long topic,” Lamkin said. “I was looking at the music of Haydn and how it arrived in North America before there was a United States.”
Haydn’s works arrived before the internet, television, radio, mail and fax machines, their transportation in the hands of a group of Protestant missionaries that originated primarily from the Czech region, Hungary and Austria, and were later called the United Brethren Church. These missionaries sailed to the New World in the mid-18th Century and settled in what is now Pennsylvania and North Carolina a few decades before America’s Declaration of Independence. Today we call the group Moravians, which has a special meaning to Lamkin.
“My grandparents came from Moravia, so there were a lot of personal ties for me,” Lamkin said.
Lamkin said Haydn’s works ended up in the hands of the Moravians as the result of the educational process. About 150 works of Haydn were copied in Herrnhut, Germany, and some of them ended up in the hands of American colonists. How? Lamkin wants answers to such questions, so she will spend one of her six weeks of sabbatical there.
“They didn’t have a lot of books or other educational things we have today, so much of learning came from copying musical writings,” Lamkin said. “Many copies of Haydn’s music went along with Moravian missionaries. These people were very interested in education, and they loved music and knew Haydn.”
Qualities Lamkin shares as well.
Lamkin was author of “Esterhazy Musicians from 1790-1809 Considered from New Sources in the Castle Forchtenstein Archives,” which was published in 2007 as Volume 6 of the “Eisenstadter Haydn Privat Stiftung.” She has published articles and given lectures about this archival research, and was interviewed by the BBC during intermission of a worldwide broadcast of a performance of Haydn music from Austria.
At September’s symposium in Austria, “Haydn’s Heritage and Reception in the Moravian Communities of North America” was the title of her lecture. Now, in her coming sabbatical, she’ll continue her archival research on the subject, spending three weeks in Austria, one week in Germany and two weeks in England documenting the impact of the Moravian missionaries who took Haydn global.
“For me, this is a great tie between my love of Haydn and what was happening in these Moravian communities,” Lamkin said. “Faculty need time away from the classroom, to do this. When you get back and you can share all this with your students it has so much meaning.
“I keep thinking about the university’s commitment to lifelong learning, and if we can teach our students about the joy of learning, they’ll get excited about really exploring and enjoying what they’re learning.”