H.C. ROBBINS LANDON, 83
Musicologist H.C. Robbins Landon dies; popularized Haydn
H.C. Robbins Landon, 83, a musicologist noted for his pioneering research on composer Franz Joseph Haydn and for writing popular works on Mozart, Beethoven and other composers, died Nov. 20 at Rabastens in southern France, where he lived. Officials at the town hall would not provide details about the cause of death.
Mr. Robbins Landon, a native New Englander, moved to Europe in the late 1940s to pursue research on Haydn. He did much to popularize the composer, inspiring the foundation of the Haydn Society, editing music scores and publishing a book on Haydn's 108 symphonies in 1955.
The society produced many first recordings of Haydn's works, and Mr. Robbins Landon was involved from 1969 to 1973 in Decca's recordings of all the Haydn symphonies, conducted by Antal Dorati.
Mr. Robbins Landon could not claim a similar role in rediscovering the immensely popular Mozart, but several books on the 18th-century composer found a wide readership.
His reputation took a knock in 1993, when he vouched for the authenticity of what were claimed to be six newly discovered piano sonatas by Haydn but that proved to a hoax perpetrated by a living German composer.
Harold Chandler Robbins Landon was born March 6, 1926, in Boston. He took an interest in Haydn while studying with Haydn expert Karl Geiringer at Boston University. After graduating in 1947, he went to Vienna and, expecting that he would soon be drafted, persuaded the U.S. Army to take him on as a researcher on an official history of the Fifth Army and the liberation of Italy.
In 1949, he returned to Boston and joined friends in founding the Haydn Society before going back to Vienna. One of his early triumphs was discovering the original parts of Mozart's opera "Idomeneo." Mr. Robbins Landon also solved the Vienna Philharmonic's difficulty with the high pitch of the horn parts in Haydn's 56th symphony. He realized that Haydn wrote for horns pitched an octave higher.
He recalled the episode in his 1999 memoir, "Horns in High C: A Memoir of Musical Discoveries and Adventures."
Much of his work was done in Hungary, where the papers of Haydn's patrons, the Esterhazy family, had recently come into the possession of the National Library in Budapest. Mr. Robbins Landon's status as a correspondent for the Times newspaper of London helped open doors in the then-communist state.
Mr. Robbins Landon's numerous publications include "The Collected Correspondence and London Notebooks of Joseph Haydn" (1959), "Beethoven: A Documentary Biography" (1970), "Mozart and the Masons" (1983), "Handel and His World" (1984), "1791: Mozart's Last Year," (1988), "Five Centuries of Music in Venice" (1991) and "Mozart and Vienna" (1991).
He was divorced two times and was separated from his third wife at the time of his death.
Survivors include his companion, Marie-Noelle Raynal-Bechetoille.
-- Associated Press