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Australian Haydn Ensemble | Haydn & Bell: A Life in Letters – Sydney

30 August 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm AEST

Iconic Australian actor and founder of the Bell Shakespeare company, John Bell, joins AHE for a new theatrical production exploring the life of Haydn through his letters, along with the C19th French author Stendhal’s published fictional telling of Haydn’s life. The production will be a fascinating insight into the personal life of Haydn that is not often shown, along with a beautiful journey through his music performed by the musicians of the AHE. Directed by Alexander Berlage with a new script by Rachel McDonald.

This exciting new theatrical production by Bell and AHE brings to life a set of early 19th century fictional letters in a new production that is part drama, part performance. Set in Vienna, Bell’s monologue embodies the nameless letter writer, and his performance is interwoven with selections of Haydn’s music performed by AHE. This project is sure to be a thought-provoking experience that will transport audiences to another time and world.

Although not entirely factual, the letters are considered to be a significant insight into 18th century culture. They were published by the 19th century French Romantic novelist Marie- Henri Beyle under the pseudonym of ‘Stendhal’. Beyle is best known for his novels Le Rougeet le noir (1830; The Red and the Black) and La Chartreuse de Parme (1839; The Charterhouse of Parma). ‘Stendhal’s’ collected letters are thought to be largely copied from other authors of the time including Giuseppe Carpini.

Published initially in the early 19th century as the Life of Haydn: In a Series of Letters Written at Vienna, they present a fictional account based on Haydn’s life in a beautiful narrative style that transports the reader to Haydn’s side in post-revolutionary and post-Napoleonic Europe.

Told through the eyes of a fictional friend and admirer of Haydn, the letters to ‘Louis’ begin with a vivid “Description of Haydn’s residence—of his appearance in his old age—of Vienna, and the Prater—character of the society of Vienna”, and go on to trace Haydn’s humble beginnings as a struggling artist and the son of a rural cartwright, and his rise to become the most famous composer of the late 18th century.

Bell and AHE bring Stendhal’s account to life along with other historical material including Haydn’s own letters in a new script by Rachel McDonald.


John Bell | ACTOR
The Australian Haydn Ensemble

Skye McIntosh and Rachel McDonald



Selected music of Joseph Haydn

This concert will also be live streamed by Melbourne Digital Concert Hall – follow the link to purchase online tickets 






30 August 2021
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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City Recital Hall, Sydney
2-12 Angel Place
Sydney, NSW 2000 Australia
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