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"The Joke" Quartet

One of my favorite composers was known for having a sense of humor in his music. One of his String Quartet's even got nicknamed "The Joke". Of course I'm talking about Joseph Haydn, Austrian composer and "Father of the String Quartet".

This April Fools Day, listen to his String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op 33, No.2. (Credit to MKI Artists for posting this wonderful video)

See below if you want an explanation of The Joke (which we all know can ruin the joke)

"The Joke" happens at the end of the 4th movement. You have 3 upbeat and happy movements preceding it with no odd silences and with predicable phrase lengths.

When the 4th movement starts, it is a catchy, cheerful dance movement with an ear worm of a melody that sticks with you for days. The back and forth conversational aspect of this movement may remind us of friends laughing and having a joyful conversation as they respond to one another.

By the end, "The Joke" emerges as we wonder when, or if, this piece will end. What started as an equal back and forth turns into two jokesters both wanted to get in the last word. The silence is just long enough that we feel awkward and wonder if the piece is done, but sure enough, back comes the melody, before an even longer pause.

The last phrase doesn't even end on the tonic and leaves us feeling like the piece is unfinished and makes us wait, just like the other pauses, but with no resolution to come.

This piece almost always results in laughter from the audience as they get "tricked" again and again by the ending.

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