Winder’s witty and summary dismissal of the less interesting Haydn symphonies, cranked out for aristo-soirées. And isn’t that a marvelous phrase: ‘brocaded people who have not washed’.  Thus does Winder bring history to life. 

Go easy on the comfits.  

Some of the symphonies are in practice quite boring and reek of loveless background music for the aristocratic soirées of yesteryear, with brocaded people who have not washed for quite a while kissing hands, fluttering fans and peering through quizzing glasses.  You can hit a really rough patch where you suddenly feel you have overdosed on lavender-flavoured comfits. 

For a great sampling of Winder’s triologisms, and a quote-packed tribute to his earlier book on Germany, see our bestellar review.

 

Source: Simon Winder, Danubia: A personal history of Habsburg Europe (London: Picador, 2013), pp. 280-81

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