The choreographer has described her first work for New York City Ballet this way: "It's to excerpts from Haydn symphonies, and it's the most classical piece I've ever done. Yet it's more than a formal essay. It was inspired, in part, by the death of a friend. And just as Haydn's music has a bright side and a dark down side, so I want my choreography to reflect this."
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was one of the most important figures in the development of 18th century classical music. The Austrian composer helped establish forms for string quartet and symphony. His father, a wheelwright and market magistrate, introduced his children to music, and Haydn pursued a long, arduous apprenticeship before becoming Kappelmeister to Prince Nicholas Esterhazy in 1762. Haydn is often referred to as "the father of the symphony," and he composed 104 symphonies over 35 years. The last 12, written at the request of the English impresario Salomon and known as the "London" symphonies, are the most well known. Mercury is set to movements from symphonies composed between 1767 and 1774, Haydn's middle period.