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Great Performances: Now Hear This “Haydn: King of Strings”

Premieres Friday, September 18 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nowhearthis and the PBS Video app

When Joseph Haydn visited England, he was so taken with “God Save the King” that he wanted to write an anthem for Austria’s monarch. Host Scott Yoo discovers how Haydn borrowed folk music from Scotland, Hungary and Austria to create his “Emperor Quartet.” Along the way, he and guest violinist Geoff Nuttall reveal how Haydn created the string quartet format, providing an inside look and deeper appreciation for the genre. Haydn went on to write more great string quartets than any other composer.

Places visited: Eisenstadt, Rohrau and Vienna, Austria; Fertod, Hungary; London; Charleston, S.C.

Transcript Print

[music begins] I'm Scott Yoo. Come with me across Austria and Hungary, London and Charleston with Geoff Nuttall.

Geoff Nuttall: If you're in a string quartet, Haydn's the man.

Joseph Haydn Geoff Nuttall: Haydn didn't everything first and better.

He created the string quartet.

A real melting pot of different cultures.

[bagpipes playing] Discover how Haydn became the 'King of Strings.'

From the music series, 'Now Hear This' on 'Great Performances.'