Haydn - Symphonies (Roy Goodman)

Posted By: Bibixy
Haydn - Symphonies (Roy Goodman)

Haydn - Symphonies (Roy Goodman)
Helios/Nimbus | 2002/2003 | 18 CD | 19 RAR | 1.93 Gb
MP3 192 Kbps | Lame encoded | Tracks | Covers & Booklets

The most welcome of Hyperion's bargain label, Helios, reissues consists of recordings of Haydn's symphonies on 17 bargain priced CDs which are available individually. All feature Roy Goodman conducting his Hanover Band and each disc has about 70 generous minutes of recording. (Added here it's a Nimbus Records CD with Symphonies 94, 100 & 104 for a total of 18 CDs)

Of course, given this conductor and his band, these are period recordings using authentic instruments of the eighteenth century. Yet as would also be expected Goodman's interpretations have none of the frigidity of some authentic recordings. He is able to maintain the eighteenth century sense of order, but he also hints at the Romanticism that is slowly being born, especially in his leisurely interpretation of Haydn's slow movement. He conducts from the harpsichord and his playing there is exquisitely done.

Haydn's music provides the surest cure for depression and these reissued recordings are doubly welcome. For not only are they eminently worthwhile themselves but especially because of the sad likelihood that Adam Fischer's massive project to record all the Haydn symphonies on modem instruments will never be completed in Britain because of the collapse of Nimbus.

These delightful six discs are sure to be heard on many a Matin, Midi and Soir by any true lover of Papa Haydn music.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Contemporary Review Company Ltd.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

contents:


In 1749 Haydn was dismissed (some sources suggest forcefully, to say the least) from the choir school at St Stephan’s Cathedral in Vienna, partly because his voice was breaking (his choirmaster reputedly tried to persuade him to sacrifice himself to a career as a castrato), but the last straw was when he cut off a fellow pupil’s ponytail. His musical education at the school had been fairly minimal, principally instruction in singing and playing the violin, and his theoretical knowledge had largely been gleaned from private study, pouring over such tomes as Fux’s contrapuntal treatise Gradus ad Parnassum until late into the night. Now he was virtually alone in the world, hoping to make a living out of music. Very slowly he began to make his way teaching the keyboard (for little financial reward) during the day, while at night he would play in serenading parties (a popular pastime during the Viennese summer) and indulge in his almost fanatical urge to compose. He later wrote:

I had to spend eight whole years trailing wretchedly around giving lessons to children—many a genius earning his bread in this miserable way comes to grief for lack of time to study. This was my experience and I would never have made such progress as I did had I not pursued my zeal for composition far into the night.

Many of his early pieces were serenades and divertimenti, but in 1751 he received his first commission, to write the music for a pantomime-operetta Der krummer Teufel (‘The Crooked Devil’, now lost). He then found work as accompanist to the young daughter of the renowned operatic librettist, Pietro Metastasio. Her singing teacher was the Neapolitan Nicola Porpora who eventually took Haydn on as accompanist (and valet) himself, giving the young composer the chance to have the lessons he had so long desired, and also introducing him to the aristocratic society that was soon to prove so useful. In about 1757 he was taken on as music-master to the family of Baron von Furnberg at whose summer home near Melk on the Danube Haydn composed his first string quartets for members of the baron’s household. (Haydn himself played the viola.)

But more importantly to the composition of symphonies, in 1759 (some scholars now suggest a year or two earlier) Haydn was, on Furnberg’s recommendation, appointed Kapellmeister and Kammercompositeur to Count Morzin at the castle of Lukavec in Bohemia. The count had a wind band, for which Haydn composed Feldpartien, or suites for outdoor performance, and also a small string orchestra, supplemented when required by players from the wind band. It was for this enlarged orchestra that he composed his first symphonies—certainly numbers 1 to 5 and probably at least half a dozen more. The conventional numbering often gives little indication of actual chronology: Nos 6, 7 and 8, for example, were the first works he composed for Prince Esterházy in 1761, by which time he had already composed Nos 10, 11, 15, 18, 27, 32, 33, 37 and ‘A’ (which, with ‘B’, was of previously disputed authenticity).

Tradition has it that Haydn was the ‘father’ of both the string quartet and the symphony. While the former certainly reached its first definitive form in his hands, in the case of the symphony Haydn was working in an already existing medium, if one that was still fairly young. It had evolved from a combination of several instrumental genres, among them the Baroque concerto grosso, the ‘church sonata’ and the Italian operatic overture (or Sinfonia avanti l’opera, the most obvious source, from which the symphony gained both its name and the three-movement, fast–slow–fast form which sufficed for its early years). Schools of symphonic composition developed in a number of centres, principally Vienna, represented by the likes of Georg Monn (1717–1750), Florian Leopold Gassmann (1723–1774) and Georg Christian Wagenseil (1715–1777), and Mannheim, with Johann Wenzel Stamitz (1717–1757) and Ignaz Holzbauer (1711–1783). But despite influences from a variety of sources, Haydn’s earliest symphonies follow in the tradition of his home city, Vienna.

The first five (their true order of composition is still rather vague) show him experimenting with a variety of forms. Nos 1, 2 and 4 follow the standard three-movement, Italian overture-derived, fast–slow–fast pattern, while No 5 has the layout of the older sonata da chiesa (church sonata), with its opening slow movement, and No 3 is already a fully fledged four-movement work with minuet. All are scored for the maximum Lukavec contingent of oboes, horns, bassoon, strings and continuo.

Symphony No 1, the work that is supposed to have been heard by Prince Esterházy and which led to Haydn’s appointment as Deputy Kapellmeister at Eisenstadt in 1761, opens with what is conceivably a Mannheim trait, a dramatic crescendo from piano to forte. Here, as with many of his principal symphonic themes of these years, the main subjects are constructed more for their motivic possibilities than for their overt melodiousness. The slow movements of all but No 5 reduce the instrumentation to strings alone. That of Symphony No 2, marked ‘sempre piano’, is in two contrapuntal parts throughout: the violins together on the one hand, the lower strings doubling up on the other, with the texture hardly changing from beginning to end, the violins having continuous semiquavers articulated by brief trills on the first note of nearly every bar.

Symphony No 3 has as the extra movement a minuet and trio, the former virtually a complete two-part canon, the latter giving the wind a little of the limelight. Haydn’s nocturnal hours spent with Gradus ad Parnassum paid off in the finale, which is a fugue, its semibreve subject looking forward some thirty years to that of the finale of Mozart’s ‘Jupiter’ symphony. The formal outlines of the first three symphonies seem to be combined in No 4 which has an extended minuet as a finale, preceded by another motivically active presto opening movement and a stately Andante for muted strings.

Symphony No 5 opens with a full slow movement, the indicator of its sonata da chiesa origins. This work is also notable for its writing for the pair of horns, both in the solos given to them in the Adagio and in their stratospherical tessitura in the Minuet’s trio.

Matthew Rye © 1991

Symphony No 1 in D major
Symphony No 2 in C major
Symphony No 3 in G major
Symphony No 4 in D major
Symphony No 5 in A major

Haydn’s first term of permanent employment lasted little more than a year. Count Morzin, who had appointed him as his Kapellmeister in 1759, soon ran into financial difficulties and had to dismiss his orchestra. Fortuitously, Prince Paul Anton Esterházy had attended one of the concerts at Morzin’s Bohemian summer castle in which Haydn is supposed to have conducted his Symphony No 1. He was impressed to the extent that when he heard of his redundancy he offered him the post of Deputy Kapellmeister at his own court at Eisenstadt in the Burgenland, south of Vienna. And so, with the contract that was signed on 1 May 1761, there began one of the most remarkable cases of musical patronage in the annals of music history, a tenure that lasted for almost exactly thirty years.

At the beginning of his adult life, Paul Anton had taken up a military career, earning the rank of field-marshall for his leading of hussars in the wars of the 1740s. In the early 1750s he acted in a more diplomatic capacity as Austrian Minister Extraordinary to the Court of Naples, a posting that was to colour his musical tastes. He had always had a strong interest in music since his days of study with the Jesuits, and he was a competent player of several instruments. On his return to Austria he founded a small orchestra at his Eisenstadt palace. By the time of Haydn’s appointment, it had been expanded and could boast some of the leading virtuosi of the day among its number, including the violinist Luigi Tomasini as leader, and the cellist Joseph Weigl.

The prince already had a Kapellmeister in the person of Gregor Wender, an elderly musician ripe for retirement but who remained on with responsibility for the sacred side of the court’s musical requirements until his death in 1766, when Haydn took over his title. From the first, then, Haydn was given charge of the newly enlarged orchestra, a body of players (supplemented as required by extra wind players from the military band) that would provide him with a tame testing ground for some of the most original orchestral writing to come out of the eighteenth century. His oft-quoted remark encapsulates this artistic atmosphere:

As head of an orchestra I could experiment, observe what heightened the effect and what weakened it, and so could improve, expand, cut, take risks. I was cut off from the world, there was no one near me to torment me or make me doubt myself, and so I had to become original.

Mention has already been made of the prince’s Italian tastes in music. Among the many volumes in his music library was Vivaldi’s famous set of four violin concertos Le Quattro Stagioni (‘The Four Seasons’) which made regular appearances in the orchestra’s concerts (or ‘academies’ as they were termed). It seems that the prince himself suggested to Haydn that he compose a similar set of works following the different times of day. Rather than concertos, Haydn chose the symphonic form, though one dominated by elements of the Baroque concerto and concerto grosso. The resulting three symphonies (Nos 6, 7 and 8 in the popularly accepted numbering but actually preceded by at least ten others from his days with Count Morzin) were the first works Haydn wrote in his new post. They were probably given their first performances in the great hall of the Esterházy’s Viennese palace (where the court spent most of the summer) in May or June 1761, less than a year before the prince died and was succeeded by his brother Nikolaus.

For his debut as court composer, Haydn seems to have had two purposes in mind when composing these symphonies—not a small degree of flattery to the prince’s interests in Italian music, and a chance to show off the new orchestra, and in particular the violin-playing of Tomasini.

He did not follow Vivaldi’s example to the extent of following a detailed programme of extra-musical events, but Symphony No 6 does begin with a brief Adagio introduction that is undoubtedly meant to represent a sunrise (a foretaste, perhaps, of the similar passage in The Creation). The ensuing Allegro immediately introduces the flute and oboes as soloists, but the slow movement takes on the guise of a miniature concerto for the violinist Tomasini and cellist Weigl—a concertante group accompanied by a ripieno body of strings—a deliberate throwback to the Italian Baroque—even the ideas recall the musical gestures of Corelli. More unusually, the trio to the Minuet features a duet for violone (double bass) and bassoon. The finale returns to the concerto grosso layout with concertante violin and cello and features a virtuosic display for the former at its centre.

Symphony No 7 again begins with a slow introduction and the concertante-ripieno concept is expanded to the typically Corellian trio of two violins and cello as soloists. For the second movement Haydn turns his attention to another area of Italian music—the operatic recitativo accompagnato, or accompanied recitative—a mode of setting dialogue in opera that Haydn himself was to use in his own operas and which remained popular until the time of Rossini. In the words of the Haydn scholar H C Robbins Landon, ‘the solo violin produces a realistic parody of the anguished dramatic soprano of Metastasian opera seria’, though what she might be singing about is left to our imagination. The slow movement proper introduces two flutes for the first time in the symphony (a touch Haydn often employed—saving a particular timbre later in a work for special effect), yet it is the cadenza for violin and cello that forms one of the work’s most remarkable passages. The violone (probably played by the bassoonist Georg Schwenda) again has a solo in the Minuet’s trio and the first movement’s instrumental disposition returns for the spirited finale.

Of all the movements in these three symphonies, the ‘Allegro molto’ of No 8 is the least concerto-orientated. There are solo passages for the wind instruments, but no more than is usual in any of Haydn’s other symphonies. The slow movement, however, adds a bassoon to the trio concertante on No 7, providing the cello with a duet partner to match the two violins. The Minuet returns to the instrumentation of the first movement and (again) features a violone solo in the trio. The finale is the most overtly programmatic movement in any of the three symphonies. Cast in a strict ABA form, it is nonetheless a vivid musical evocation of a storm, with a solo cello (imitating the opening violin solo’s rapid semiquavers) suggesting a distant rumble of thunder, a falling arpeggio ‘raindrop’ (or perhaps ‘lightning’) figure on the flute, and passages of dramatic unisons portraying, maybe, torrents of driving rain.

Matthew Rye © 1991

Symphony No 6 in D major 'Le Matin'
Symphony No 7 in C major 'Le Midi'
Symphony No 8 in G major 'Le Soir'

Until the 1780's, most of Haydn’s symphonies had been destined for the court of his employer, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy. Although he often felt imprisoned in his job as Kapellmeister, stuck in the small-town and rural atmospheres of the Prince’s two main residences at Eisenstadt and Eszterháza, south-east of Vienna, Haydn’s reputation had nevertheless spread far and wide. Paris in particular held a soft spot for his music, to the extent that in 1785 he was commissioned to write six symphonies for a French aristocrat, the Comte d’Ogny. The result, numbers 82 to 87, were completed by the following year. Two more symphonies (88 and 89) ended up in Paris in 1789, sold to a French publisher by the violinist/businessman Johann Tost.

By then, three further symphonies had been written: numbers 90, 91 and 92. There is again a Paris connection, though a little more indirect. Early in 1788 Haydn received a commission from Prince Krafft-Ernst of Oettingen-Wallerstein for a set of three symphonies for the orchestra at his Bavarian castle. The composer at first declined, claiming lack of time to complete the works, but he changed his mind when a similar commission came from the aforementioned Comte d’Ogny. Now the businessman in Haydn saw that he could get away with—as it were—killing two birds with one stone, by writing just three symphonies to fulfil both commissions. He sent the scores to Paris, dedicating the second two personally to le Comte. But problems occurred when, having handed over his only autograph copies in this way, he needed to provide Prince Krafft-Ernst with the same scores. His rather cunning solution was to send just the orchestral parts to the prince, claiming that the scores were illegible due to his bad eyesight—even enclosing a sample page as ‘proof’. The ploy worked and the prince was encouraged to coax another three symphonies from him, with a gold snuffbox plus fifty ducats sent as an inducement. But numbers 90, 91 and 92 were the last works in the medium Haydn wrote before setting out on his historic first journey to London with the impresario Johann Peter Salomon in December 1790. However, he did follow up an invitation to visit the prince at Wallerstein on his outward journey and later presented him with the scores of his first four ‘London’ symphonies (actually numbers 93, 96, 97 and 98).

Symphonies Nos 90 and 91 were composed one after the other in 1788. While all three symphonies recorded here open with a slow introduction, No 90 is unique among them in the way the ensuing Allegro takes up, more or less intact, the main melodic idea of the Adagio. The Allegro’s secondary theme is given to the flute, then the oboe, and shows Haydn’s writing for the woodwind already looking forward to the later London works. The slow movement is in one of Haydn’s favourite forms, that of double variation. A melody in F major alternates in an A–B–A–B–A pattern with a contrasting one in F minor. There follows a rather French-sounding Menuet (Haydn even uses the French title) with a delicately scored trio section. In the sonata-form finale the same idea furnishes both the first and second subject groups, the contrast being provided by texture and key. Key itself plays an important part in the remarkable ending to the movement. An extended recapitulation in C major culminates in what, to all intents and purposes, sounds like a resolute conclusion. But Haydn has a trick up his sleeve. He gives the whole orchestra four bars rest then takes up fragments of the main theme a semitone higher, in D flat major, and spends a lengthy coda bringing the music back soundly to C again.

The Largo that opens Symphony No 91 is a more stately introduction than the more teasing affair of No 90, responding like Mozart and Beethoven to the ‘aristocratic’ nature of E flat major. Yet the Allegro begins in a deceptively simple vein, with its main theme little more than a near-chromatic rising scale played concurrently with a diatonic falling one. As the movement progresses, it becomes clear that this is another of Haydn’s monothematic creations: the chromatic idea is rarely absent and distinctions between ‘first’ and ‘second’ subjects are somewhat blurred, with the most obvious contrasting theme appearing in a tonally transitional context. As in No 90, the slow movement is in variation form with contrasting sections in B flat major and minor, though here the latter forms a ‘one off’ centrepiece. The minuet and trio are followed by another monothematic sonata-form finale.

Haydn completed Symphony No 92 in 1789. A year later his employer Prince Nikolaus died, and his successor, Prince Anton, having few of the cultural leanings of his predecessor, disbanded the court orchestra. Haydn was immediately sought out by the impresario Salomon, who whisked him off to London. In July 1791 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Oxford and conducted his symphony in the Sheldonian Theatre for the occasion, whence it gained its nickname of the ‘Oxford’. It was indeed the ideal work to demonstrate his worthiness. The last symphony before the twelve London works, it sums up his symphonic achievement of the previous thirty years, with its refined introduction leading to one of his most motivically concise Allegros (yet again monothematic), whose liveliness contrasts with the poetic lyricism of the Adagio cantabile. A representative minuet and trio lead to the Presto finale, a cross between sonata form and rondo, with one of Haydn’s most engaging melodic inventions dominating proceedings.

Matthew Rye © 1991

Symphony No 9 in C major
Symphony No 10 in D major
Symphony No 11 in E flat major
Symphony No 12 in E major

Despite their numbering, the present four symphonies were not written consecutively. Their order of composition is more likely to be the reverse—16, 15, 14, 13, with the second two post-dating the former pair by two or three years—but all being representative of works written for two of Haydn’s principal employers, the Morzin and Esterházy families.

The Morzins gave Haydn his first position in the important role of Kapellmeister (literally, head of the chapel music, or music master of the household). The count and his family divided their time between a summer castle in Bohemia and a town house in Vienna, though most of Haydn’s time was spent at the former residence. Morzin’s orchestra was relatively small, but he also employed a wind band (oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets and timpani) whose players joined the strings of the orchestra when required. It was for this enlarged ensemble that Haydn composed some dozen or more symphonies, including Nos 15 and 16 (they are in fact closer to 7 or 8 in number), between about 1759 and 1761 when financial problems forced Morzin to disband his orchestra and Haydn took up his appointment with the Esterházys.

Symphony No 15 is one of the most interesting works from this period. Its first movement is unusually in the style of a French overture, a form marked by its A–B–A, slow–fast– slow structure with, here, extensive Adagio sections framing a lively Presto. The second movement also has a French character to it, particularly in the dotted rhythms of the main Minuet section. The finale is again a Presto and shows Haydn’s nascent mastery of instrumentation and formal ingenuity.

Symphony No 16 is no less fascinating a work. Again in three movements, here they are more straightforward in layout, though no less striking in content. The first movement, for example, already shows Haydn’s penchant for monothematic symphonic movements, with the main contrapuntal theme of its opening providing all the motivic material he requires to produce a cogent and coherent Allegro. The slow movement for strings alone is by contrast much less intense and is marked by the doubling at a lower octave of the main violin theme by a solo cello throughout. The excitement returns with the 68 Presto finale, one of the first manifestations in his symphonies of Haydn’s predisposition to musical wit.

By the middle of the eighteenth century the Esterházys were the wealthiest and most powerful family of the Hungarian aristocracy and were also among the most culturally influential, with Haydn as the linchpin of a highly developed musical infrastructure giving regular performances of orchestral music and opera week in, week out during the society season.

When Prince Nikolaus Esterházy succeeded his brother Paul Anton (who had initially brought Haydn to Eisenstadt) in 1762, he set about enlarging the orchestra and generally expanding the musical activities of the court. By August 1763 Haydn had doubled the horn contingent in the orchestra, from the then-prevalent two to a generous four, and the same year wrote a pair of symphonies to justify this extravagance to the prince. No 72 (one of the most grossly misnumbered in the conventional ordering) was a real display piece, but in Symphony No 13 Haydn attempted to show how well the horn quartet was suited to ensemble-playing. He wrote for it in a way that was to become the standard nineteenth-century practice in which four-part writing gave horns I and III the upper voices and II and IV the lower, in interlocking fashion.

The great hall in the palace at Eisenstadt was fairly large and had an ample acoustic, something that Haydn bore in mind in his twenty or so symphonies written there between 1761 and 1765 (from 1766 the bulk of the court’s musical activities shifted to the new summer palace of Eszterháza, the intimacy of whose music room led Haydn to experiment with more chamber-music-like sonorities). This is most notable in the first movement of No 13, whose sustained, organ-like wind chords counterbalance and support the vigorous rhythmic repetitions of the unison arpeggio string theme that dominates the movement. A further subtle use of the acoustic occurs when the recapitulation arrives with a surreptitious piano, before the four unison horns proudly proclaim the arpeggio idea.

Almost something straight out of a concerto, the ‘Adagio cantabile’ is a movement for solo cello whose melody gently meanders above a repeated staccato chordal pattern on the other strings. The Minuet restores the tutti forces of the whole orchestra, but for the trio Haydn again reduces the instrumentation to strings, this time accompanying a solo flute. For the finale, Haydn combines a fugal style with sonata form. The cantus firmus subject will doubtlessly sound familiar, being the same four-note Gregorian ‘Credo’ theme that would later furnish the finale of Mozart’s last symphony, No 41 in C, K551.

Symphony No 14 is a somewhat more compressed work than its probable successor, No 13. Here, a restless first movement and contrapuntal finale (the latter anticipating the cantus firmus treatment in No 13) frame an Andante based on a movement from an early divertimento and a Minuet in which the horns are again prominent.

Matthew Rye © 1993

Symphony No 13 in D major
Symphony No 14 in A major
Symphony No 15 in D major
Symphony No 16 in B flat major

A certain amount of mystery still clouds the history of Haydn’s earliest symphonies. Autograph manuscripts are few and far between, and contemporary records are scarce. Moreover, the accepted numbering contrived by Eusebius Mandyczewski in 1907 attempted to assign works that were difficult to date with any accuracy to their latest possible year of composition, causing further confusion. The five symphonies on this disc, for example, are more likely to have been composed in an order closer to 18, 19, 20, 17 and 21, over a period possibly as wide as seven years and with a fair number of other symphonies interspersed among them. As a result, these few symphonies provide a fascinating résumé of Haydn’s early work in the field, from some of his earliest works to the burgeoning inspiration of his Esterháza compositions.

As an example of the confusion that surrounds many of Haydn’s early works, he himself claimed towards the end of his life that he had composed his first symphony for Count Morzin in 1759, the year he became his Kapellmeister. Yet, although it is generally accepted that No 1 was indeed his first, there is documentary evidence dating at Ieast one of the ‘later’ symphonies to 1758 and others might possibly derive from a year earlier still. Also paradoxical is the fact that while Morzin’s household apparently provided Haydn with his first opportunity to work with an orchestra in a non-Iiturgical situation, he seems to have been composing symphonies for it or another comparable body for up to two years before his full-time appointment. Since the recommendation for the position had come from his former benefactor Baron von Fürnberg (for whom Haydn created the genre of the string quartet), it is quite possible that the highly musical Morzin already knew Haydn and was commissioning symphonies from him before 1759.

Three of the five symphonies recorded here are presumed to date from between about 1757 to 1761, numbers 18, 19 and 20 with, in addition, the possibility that No 17 was composed either for Morzin, or Haydn’s subsequent employer, Prince Esterházy (i.e. after 1761), though its style suggests the former.

The Morzin family (it is not known if it was the widowed father or his son who was responsible for engaging Haydn) spent the winter in Vienna and the summer at its castle near Pilsen in Bohemia, Lukavec. It employed a small orchestra of perhaps a dozen players (strings and continuo instruments) and a wind band (oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets and timpani), whose players were called upon to join the orchestra when the occasion demanded. Haydn’s scoring in the Morzin symphonies was thus modest: with the exception of No 20 (which boasts trumpets and drums), they call for a small body of strings with continuo and pairs of oboes and horns.

No 18 is one of the most antiquated of these works in terms of form. Haydn adopted (and adapted) the movement pattern of the church sonata, an instrumental form originally designed for liturgical use (in effect a larger-scale, orchestral version of the organ voluntary). The most characteristic aspect of this form is its opening slow movement, displacing the more characteristically symphonic opening allegro. The church sonata was usually in four movements, but here Haydn omits the traditional finale component. Instead, the symphony features, in addition to the ‘Andante moderato’ (which, incidentally, contains an opening theme in which Haydn seems to be alluding to the form’s Baroque origins in its dotted rhythms), a lively ‘Allegro molto’ and a Minuet and trio.

No 19’s pattern of movements is more characteristic of Haydn’s early symphonies. There are just three: a motivically taut Allegro is followed by a minor-key Andante (for strings alone—a practice that probably derives from the desire to give the hard-working wind players a rest) and a vigorous finale.

Although hinting at the larger scale of the Esterházy symphonies, No 20 can only date from the Morzin period owing to the presence of trumpets and drums in the score. They did not exist in the Esterháza orchestra until about 1773. Nor was this Haydn’s first ‘trumpets and drums’ C major symphony: No 37 (more likely to be the true No 2) contains them in one source, and Nos 32 and 33 (similarly closer to the early teens in true chronology) present themselves as a matching pair. This festive use of the orchestra derives from the numerous solemn Masses composed in the key during the eighteenth century and carried into purely secular (though possibly still celebratory) realms. One other characteristic of these C major symphonies is their adoption of the four-movement structure that would become the symphonic norm. Here Haydn writes a lengthy first movement in which the development section is notable for being almost as long as the exposition. The slow movement is again for strings alone, as is the trio to the Minuet. The finale is a lively movement in triple time with a central section in the minor.

No 17 demonstrates Haydn’s use of the more normal contingent of wind instruments (oboes and horns) in the symphonies of this period. They are still used largely as harmonic filler and in doubling the lines of the violins, while among the strings themselves the thematic interest is very much concentrated in the first violin part with occasional pseudo-contrapuntal interpolations from the lower strings. Despite this relatively unadvanced use of his instrumental contingent, however, Haydn’s use of his motivic material shows him already coming to terms with the rich rewards of true symphonic thinking. In the first Allegro, for example, a patchwork of motifs and short thematic ideas is held together by the constant running quaver movement. The slow movement is a stately, duple-time Andante in the minor mode and again for strings alone, while the finale is a succinct, triple-time Allegro of only some ninety bars.

With Symphony No 21, we come to a work of a slightly later period. In 1760 Haydn married Maria Keller, a former pupil, and some time that year or the next, Morzin had to disband his orchestra in the face of financial difficulties. Haydn then moved to take up the position of Deputy Kapellmeister to the Esterházy family—his contract was dated May 1761—a post, soon upgraded to Kapellmeister proper, that he would hold for some three decades. The pattern of his life in his new post has been detailed elsewhere in the notes to other recordings in this series. Suffice it to say that he was the court’s chief provider of music, composing everything from sonatas for the prince’s baryton to large-scale operatic works and, of course, the vast majority of his symphonies.

Unlike the other symphonies recorded here, No 21 at least survives in a dated autograph manuscript from 1764. This suggests that it post-dates some dozen other Esterháza symphonies, resulting in an output averaging at least four symphonies a year during the early to mid-1760s. Like No 18, this symphony again falls into the form of a church sonata, though at least here Haydn maintains the full four-movement structure. It also shows, in neat contrast to No 20, how his wind writing was beginning to mature: the oboes, for instance, are given brief solos independent of the string line early on in the fantasia-Iike first movement. The ensuing Presto provides a rhythmically taught foil to this opening and is followed by a Minuet and a lively finale that features some nifty alternating quavers between the violins in its main theme.

Matthew Rye © 1993

Symphony No 17 in F major
Symphony No 18 in G major
Symphony No 19 in D major
Symphony No 20 in C major
Symphony No 21 in A major

Of the four symphonies on this disc, three, numbers 22 to 24, are known to have been composed in 1764. Haydn spent the early years of his employment in the service of the Esterházy family based almost entirely at their castle in the Burgenland town of Eisenstadt. The completion of the magnificent summer palace of Eszterháza was still a couple of years away: from about 1766, the court’s musical activities would be based there for much of the year. Back in Eisenstadt, Haydn’s original employer Prince Paul Anton had been succeeded by Nikolaus, who became renowned as one of the most culturally enlightened patrons of the late-eighteenth century. He soon set about a complete reorganisation of the court’s musical infrastructure, most notably enlarging the orchestra and employing many of the greatest instrumentalists of the day among its ranks. Here, even in the Prince’s absence, orchestral concerts were held every Tuesday and Saturday afternoon and demanded from Haydn a steady stream of symphonies and other works.

It is remarkable that in composing over a hundred symphonies over roughly a thirty-six-year period, Haydn never took the easy way by resorting to easy formulae or to the Baroque practice of borrowing music from other sources (such as Bach’s purloining from Vivaldi). Thus even in these relatively early works, we find him constantly seeking out new and different solutions to problems of symphonic form and style, deliberately making each new symphony different from the last.

For Symphony No 22, like its predecessor No 21 (the chronology of the symphonies is not always so straightforward), Haydn took as his basis the archaic form of the church sonata. Its distinguishing factor was that it would always begin with a slow movement (the increasingly common slow introduction to the fast first movement of Haydn symphonies—such as No 25—is conceivably derived from this old form). In the case of No 22, this is virtually an orchestral chorale prelude, and its slow, thoughtful tread (the steady quavers in the bass line are maintained virtually throughout) must have been the inspiration behind its apocryphal title ‘The Philosopher’ (the pensive nature of the symphony is also distinguished by its darker orchestral colouring, in which the usual oboes are substituted by a pair of cor anglais). Gradually the muted violins break free from the regular quaver movement and engage in suitably academic sounding counterpoint.

The following Presto is typical of the fast movements of Haydn’s early symphonies, having just one main theme: late-eighteenth-century so-called sonata form would gradually develop its two contrasting main ideas—first and second subject. Here, the music modulates to the expected key, the dominant, B flat, but what it arrives at can hardly be called a ‘theme’ as such, more a transitional idea. The rather austere minuet is tempered by its trio, in which the pairs of wind instruments (by name, at least, horns both ‘French’ and ‘English’) are given their head over discreet string accompaniment. The Presto Finale is typically constructed from the briefest of ideas, a three-note falling scale, heard at the opening and forming the basis of another monothematic sonata movement.

Symphony No 23 is a more traditionally structured four-movement work; the instrumentation, too, is the more conventional set-up of oboes, horns and strings. The opening Allegro is dominated by its opening theme, which sounds almost Handelian with its dotted rhythms. The extended Andante, in C major, is for the strings alone, reduced forces that also have the minuet’s canonic trio to themselves. The Finale is a sonata movement, with Haydn’s favourite ‘hunting’ mode of six-eight rhythms speeded up into a veritable perpetuum mobile, and an early instance of the composer’s humourous bent displaying itself in the surprisingly inauspicious conclusion—the music just fades away into a pianissimo pizzicato chord.

The opening movement of Symphony No 24 is one of the most dramatic in Haydn’s early symphonies. Dismissing the subtleties of crescendos and diminuendos, the score is full of frequent alternations of piano and forte markings, while the development becomes a succession of fortissimo bars concentrating wholly on vigorous movement and chromatic modulation—the recapitulation has to begin in muted form, after a pause, to dissipate this energy.

Throughout his years with the Esterházy family, Haydn liked to give his many distinguished instrumentalists a chance to shine in his symphonies and for the slow movement of No 24 he introduces a cantabile flute solo that, like so many of these instances, could have drifted in from a concerto. The flute returns briefly in the minuet’s trio section, but is otherwise silent—it would be a number of years before the instrument found a permanent place in Haydn’s symphonic orchestra. The Finale returns to the dynamic contrasts of the opening movement.

Symphonies 22 to 24 can be dated accurately from surviving manuscripts, but Symphony No 25 is not so fortunate. It is presumed to date from any time between 1761 and 1765. It is a bit of a hybrid, having a slow introduction to the Allegro that is too brief to be a church sonata opening movement, yet it subsequently has no further slow movement. The Allegro’s thematic writing suggests a date earlier than the aforementioned symphonies, though this may be more Haydn’s response to the key of C major, which was often associated with the more restrictive melodic capabilities of eighteenth-century brass (though he did not introduce trumpets and drums to this work, as he did in some other C major symphonies). Yet there is plenty of melodic variety in the minuet and hectic Presto Finale.

Matthew Rye © 1993

Symphony No 22 in E flat major 'The Philosopher'
Symphony No 23 in G major
Symphony No 24 in D major
Symphony No 25 in C major

Some seventeen of Haydn’s symphonies date from the early 1770s, years in which the form well and truly reached maturity in his hands. It was also the period in which a new profundity and tragic seriousness entered his music and that of his contemporaries. Although often linked to the Sturm und Drang (‘storm and stress’) movement in literature, the use of such a term in the musical field is a little misleading (though convenient) since the German literary movement to which it more properly applies (and which first coined it from the title of a play by Friedrich Maximilian von Klinger) itself began a few years after its manifestation in music.

Seen together, these activities were in effect the first stirrings of the Romantic movement that would dominate artistic endeavour in the following century. In literature the source of Sturm und Drang may well be the hoax perpetrated by one James Macpherson, who supposedly ‘rediscovered’ poems by a non-existent Gaelic bard, Ossian. Together with the greater acceptance of emotion in artistic expression encouraged by the humanist ideals of the Age of Enlightenment, these poems heavily influenced such early Romantic writers as Goethe, whose romantic character Werther from Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1774) became Sturm und Drang’s figurehead.

However, this German intellectual movement barely touched Austrian literary circles and Haydn’s anticipation of its spirit in his music must be regarded as coincidence (he is known anyway to have had little interest in artistic activities outside his own field). Indeed, there is little evidence for any external, personal reason for this so-called ‘romantic crisis’ in his music, where cheerful major-key symphonies lie happily alongside his more overtly tragic, minor-key works.

It is the emotional freedom of these latter works that marks them out from their predecessors in Haydn’s output. Together with a preponderance of minor keys they are dominated by musical elements that can be described as typical of Romanticism until the present century: a generous use of dynamic and other expressive markings, harmonic adventurousness and rhythmic urgency. More individual and personal traits are the increased use of contrapuntal forms and typical Haydnesque eccentricities of material and its treatment.

Most of these characteristics are present in Symphony No 44, the first of the three recorded here to be written (c1770/71). Its nickname—‘Trauersinfonie’, or ‘Mourning Symphony’—seems for once to have been Haydn’s own, and it is reported that he later requested that its slow movement should be played at his funeral. There is no attempt at a funeral march as such (where one might be expected—the aforementioned slow movement—we have an Adagio in E major) and the mourning conveys more the sense of anger of loss than quiet contemplation.

The tense opening movement sums up Haydn’s Sturm und Drang style with its fierce contrasts of dynamics, urgent semiquavers and, towards the end, a brief passage combining contrapuntal imitation with tonality-destabilising chromaticism. Counterpoint is again to the fore in the Minuet, a strict canon between upper and lower strings. The brighter mood of the major-key trio prepares the way for the Adagio, a movement which provides the calm contemplation lacking in the first movement. The finale is one of Haydn’s most remarkable, a movement brimming with nervous energy that is the embodiment of ‘storm and stress’.

The source of the ‘Mercury’ nickname of Symphony No 43 (1772) remains unknown. It could refer to its use as incidental music from some play or other given at Eszterháza, or it may not have appeared until the nineteenth century. It would certainly be wrong to impose any programmatic elements on to the abstract musical drama and search for a portrait of the gods’ winged messenger.

The symphony is marked by a unifying figure that links together the musical material of the various movements in much the same way that Beethoven was to do with the ‘fate’ motif in his Fifth Symphony. The idea here also has a three-note ‘knocking’ rhythm, first heard in the Allegro’s opening theme, then in the repeated quavers of the Adagio’s main idea, and finally in the reiterated figure of the Minuet. Only the finale avoids its use, being dominated instead by its strangely uncertain opening theme and vigorous, rushing quavers.

Devoid of programmatic suggestions it may be, but Symphony No 42 represents Haydn’s middle-period symphonies at their finest and most abstract. Here, in a bright-coloured work in D major, he reveals the power of his symphonic grasp, with effortlessly achieved structural modulations, a cogency of thematic material and a shrewd sense of dramatic timing. No better are these qualities displayed than in the beautifully paced opening ‘Moderato e maestoso’ (these more descriptive movement headings, uncommon in Haydn, but to become familiar in Beethoven’s music, unusually preface three out of the four movements here). The slow movement is more expansive, allowing for the gradual elaboration of its two main themes. The Minuet is notable for its motivic simplicity and sparely-scored trio, while the finale represents one of the earliest, fully-fledged rondo movements for which Haydn was soon to become renowned. Here the main theme is presented by the strings alone and scored in only two voices—upper and lower strings. The wind have the second theme to themselves while the strings return with a varied version of the main idea. Thus the movement continues, finding room before its conclusion for a couple of witty, virtual disintegrations of the theme and musical flow.

Matthew Rye © 1992

Symphony No 42 in D major
Symphony No 43 in E flat major 'Mercury'
Symphony No 44 in E minor 'Trauersinfonie'

By the early 1770s Haydn had been in the service of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy for a decade. At first this had meant living and working in Eisenstadt, a small town in the Burgenland south of Vienna, the site of the Esterházys’ castle. But in 1766 Nikolaus built his answer to Versailles, a sumptuous summer palace in the low-lying marshland to the east (an area now within Hungary). Eszterháza, as it was called, had its own opera house and a large concert room, providing nightly entertainment when the prince was in residence. There was even a special ‘musicians’ building’, in which the instrumentalists, singers and Haydn lived during the summer months. Here and in Eisenstadt, Kapellmeister Haydn worked hard to keep his musicians supplied with symphonies, operas and chamber music which he directed at the court’s various functions, both ceremonial or social. His contract was such that he was rarely able to spend time away from the court, though paradoxically his reputation as a composer soon managed to reach musical centres in other parts of Europe, most likely through the influence of visitors to performances at Eszterháza.

Unlike Mozart’s, Haydn’s musical development was relatively slow and his growth as a composer was undoubtedly helped by this isolation from the outside world. As he explained in a much-quoted statement:

As head of an orchestra I could experiment, observe what heightened the effect and what weakened it, and so could improve, expand, cut, take risks. I was cut off from the world, there was no one near me to torment me or make me doubt myself, and so I had to become original.

It was in the works of the late 1760s and early 1770s—the Opus 20 quartets and some dozen symphonies—that this originality became truly manifest. The three symphonies here all date from 1772.

No 45 is one of the best-known of Haydn’s Eszterháza symphonies, largely because of the famous circumstances of its composition. The prince and his court moved to the palace as usual for the summer of 1772, but this time he had decreed that no wives or families of the musicians were to visit them there. The only exceptions to this ruling were Haydn, two principal singers and the leading violinist, Luigi Tomasini. As the summer moved into autumn it soon became apparent that the prince had no immediate intention of returning to Eisenstadt and the restless musicians pleaded with Haydn to do something about it. His solution was in an artistic guise—his Symphony in F sharp minor (incidentally, the only symphony in the eighteenth century to use this rare key). The first three movements proceed relatively normally: a tense Allegro assai that saves its second subject for the development section; a delicate A major Adagio; and an F sharp major Minuet and Trio. The finale even begins as a typical sonata-form Presto, but it leads after a short pause into what is in effect a whole new movement, a 3/8 Adagio in which, one by one, the instrumental parts come to a stop. In the original performance at Eszterháza, each player in turn snuffed out his candle, took his instrument and silently left the room until at the end, in virtual darkness, only Haydn and Tomasini were left. (Haydn knew that the prince so enjoyed Tomasini’s solos that he was bound to stay to the end.) The prince, in good humour, got the message and is reported to have said, ‘If they are all going, so too must we’. And the next day the whole court moved back to Eisenstadt.

In this recording of Symphony No 45 Roy Goodman relinquishes the harpsichord at bar 205 in the last movement to play the solo first violin part in duet with Pavlo Beznosiuk. This practice, which Mr Goodman and The Hanover Band have also adopted in concert performances, is yet further evidence that the required presence of Haydn on stage at the end of this symphony did not preclude him from directing at the harpsichord.

For No 46, Haydn again turned to a rarely used key, this time B major. The first movement is one of Haydn’s most concise: its first subject is no sooner established than the music briskly moves to F sharp major and a second subject based on the same material. The recapitulation is even more tightly constructed, with the secondary theme emerging from the first after just one four-bar phrase. For his slow movement and the trio to the Minuet, Haydn moves to the tonic minor, though the rest of the symphony revolves around the major. The finale is a remarkable movement: not only does it contain extensive passages in only two parts (invariably the two violin sections), but often the music stops abruptly, or fades out, into one or more bars of silence, then, at the climax, some 34 bars of the Minuet are recalled, before the wittily downbeat coda returns to the music of the Presto.

For Symphony No 47 we are on more conventional tonal territory, G major. Here Haydn’s preoccupation is more with counterpoint, not so obviously perhaps in the delightful first movement, which plays on the alternation of strings and wind, but in the slow movement the main theme (subjected to a series of four variations) consists of two contrapuntal voices that are then inverted—the melody becomes the bass and the bass becomes the top line. Even more unusually, the third movement is literally a ‘reversible’ Minuet, in which each section is instructed to be followed by its exact mirror-image. By contrast the finale—apart from a couple of transitional passages—is almost anti-contrapuntal, with its main rondo theme heard over a doggedly homophonic accompaniment, and a number of passages played in orchestral unison.

Matthew Rye © 1991

Symphony No 45 in F sharp minor 'Farewell'
Symphony No 46 in B major
Symphony No 47 in G major

Haydn spent his first few years at the court of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy (where he was appointed in 1761) taking advantage of his freedom to experiment and develop his symphonic technique. But it was in the works of the late 1760s and early 1770s—the Opus 20 Quartets and some dozen symphonies—that his originality became truly manifest.

Symphony No 49, despite its number, is the earliest of the three recorded here, dating from 1768. It indeed marks something of a watershed in Haydn’s symphonic development, combining a relatively antiquated form—that of the church sonata—with, for its time, a particularly modern emotional content. Its form (resulting in the usual fast first movement and slow movement changing places) and nickname, ‘La Passione’ (‘The Passion’), suggest it was intended for church performance during Lent—probably Good Friday itself—when secular music was largely banished from the court.

Yet, for all its publicly expressed emotion, this symphony (together with the contemporary No 26, similarly a ‘church sonata’-form Passiontide work) has long been recognized as an example of Haydn’s so-called Sturm und Drang (‘storm and stress’) works. The Sturm und Drang movement in German literature was in effect an early manifestation of the romanticism that would dominate European culture during the following century. Its theatrical works did not, however, reach Eszterháza (where they became very popular) for some ten years after Haydn’s series of minor-key works to which the expression stuck, showing how, despite his seeming cultural isolation, he nevertheless managed in an unconscious way to keep ‘in tune’ with the times.

All four movements of ‘La Passione’ are in F minor, the only relief being the Minuet’s F major trio. Within the movements, too, the tonal range is comparatively restricted: the relative major, A flat, is called upon fairly frequently, but otherwise the keys used are only those most closely related to F, such as C, D flat and E flat. The slow yet inexorable tread of the opening movement suggests a vision of the Via Crucis, while the following ‘Allegro di molto’ really seems to take up the cudgels, with violin leaps over hurtling quavers in the oboes and lower strings and a rhythmic drive forever pushing the music onwards. After the stern Minuet, the ‘Presto’ brings to a close one of Haydn’s darkest and most austere symphonies, a work of such—literal—passion that one cannot help but feel the grief expressed is more personal than collective.

Symphonies Nos 48 and 50, however, show no such Angst. They are both festive works in C major—like Bach’s D major, a key Haydn always reserved for his so-called ‘trumpet symphonies’.

No 48, although written in 1769, was used (as were two of Haydn’s operas composed for the occasion, L’infedeltà delusa and the puppet opera Philomen und Baucis) in 1773 to welcome the widowed Empress Maria Theresia to Eszterháza, hence its nickname. And very worthy for an imperial occasion it is, with its pomp and splendour evident from the opening bars. Yet Haydn does not resort to mere fanfare-like formulae to convey a festive spirit—this first movement is in fact particularly complex, with a wealth of different themes, an often wayward sense of tonality, and a vigour to the development section that suggests the Sturm und Drang works are not far away. The F major Adagio is more restrained, with muted violins and more solo opportunities for the oboes and horn. Its structure is a sonata form in its simplest manifestation, with in each half a rather detached theme in decorated quaver movement gradually giving way to the second accompanied by undulating triplet figuration. The Minuet reasserts C major in all its pomp, while the C minor of the trio makes a half-hearted attempt at introducing a little sense of foreboding. The finale, dominated almost throughout by vigorous quaver movement, provides a fitting conclusion to this, one of Haydn’s most unbridled symphonies.

Despite its numerical closeness, Symphony No 50 (1773) was composed some eight or nine symphonies after No 48 and combines elements both older and newer than that particular predecessor. It has—and a relative rarity before the late Paris and London works—a slow introduction, which here clearly derives from the opening slow movement of the sonata da chiesa, an example of which we have already encountered in No 49 (the main part of the first movement is a hectic ‘Allegro di molto’). After the varied orchestration of the slow movements in the other symphonies recorded here, for No 50 Haydn returns to the strings-dominated pattern of his earliest symphonies—indeed the pair of oboes play only the most minor harmonic role and the first violin melody is doubled at the octave by the cellos throughout. The Minuet is novel in the way the trio is embedded motivically and structurally into the main body of the movement with linking passages, while the finale is an earnest ‘Presto’, finished off with a humorous coda.

Matthew Rye © 1991

Symphony No 48 in C major 'Maria Theresia'
Symphony No 49 in F minor 'La Passione'
Symphony No 50 in C major

In the chronological list of Haydn’s symphonies prepared by Eusebius Mandyczewski for Breitkopf und Härtel’s complete Haydn edition in 1907, one of the worst calculations was No 72. This work is now long known to have been written during Haydn’s earliest years at Eisenstadt, a time which would yield a number closer to the ’teens than the early ’70s of more than fifteen years later.

Haydn spent his first few years in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s employ gathering around him an orchestra of some of the greatest musicians of the day. His first Eisenstadt symphonies, numbers 6 to 8 (1761), had amply demonstrated to the prince the virtuoso capabilities of the court’s string soloists, and a couple of years later we find Haydn extolling the virtues of his horn players. In April 1763 two new recruits, Franz Reiner and Karl Franz, arrived at the court, thus doubling the contingent of horns to four—quite a rarity in those early days in the development of the modern orchestra. Later the same year, Haydn wrote his Symphony No 72 more or less as a display piece for his new horn quartet (it was followed soon afterwards by a companion ‘mit dem Hornsignal’, No 31, a work of even greater bravura).

Of the two new players, Karl Franz was undoubtedly the more virtuosic and was much prized by Haydn himself (who successfully persuaded Franz to stay when he tried to resign in 1769). The writing for all four players in Symphony No 72 is demanding enough, but that for the first (Karl Franz?) is often stratospherical in its tessitura. There are many times in this symphony when the quartet is treated as a concertante group—within a few bars of the opening, for example. In the slow movement, however, the horns are silent and a new concertante pairing comes to the fore, with much florid duetting for solo violin and flute, the latter not having been heard until this point. In the Minuet the flute is again silent and the horns return. This time, and particularly in the trio scored for wind alone, there is frequent use of echo effects, suggesting that Haydn originally placed the two pairs of horns antiphonally at either side, or front and back, of the orchestra—a practice followed in this recording. After all their exertions, the horns take a relatively low-key role in the Finale, which is a set of variations on an Andante theme with a march-like tread. After the strings introduce this theme, the variations spotlight in turn the flute (Variation 1), cello (Variation 2), violin (Variation 3), violone (double bass, Variation 4) and oboes (doubled by two horns, Variation 5), before the restrained tutti Variation 6 leads suddenly into a Presto coda, a Kehraus, or kind of signal to ‘go home’, complete with hunting-horn-like flourishes.

Three years after this symphony, Prince Nikolaus’s rival to Versailles was completed. This new summer palace of Eszterháza, in the marshes bordering the Neusiedlersee, now became Haydn’s home for much of the year, and it was here, with the regular performances of operas and concerts, that the court’s reputation as one of the most cultured in Europe soon began to grow. The palace boasted its own opera house as well as a marionette theatre. But in November 1779 a fire, which started when stoves over-heated and exploded in the Chinese ballroom (while being prepared for a wedding ceremony several days later), swept through the neighbouring opera house. Haydn lost his harpsichord and countless manuscripts (particularly of his operas) and the cultural life of the palace seemed doomed. Yet the opera company retired to the small puppet theatre and the puppets to an even smaller pavilion in the gardens and exactly a month after the fire a ceremony was held in which the prince laid the foundation stone for a new and even grander opera theatre. It was for this occasion that Haydn wrote a new Symphony, No 70 in D major.

Always ready to respond to particular circumstances, he produced a work worthy of the occasion, beginning with an overture-like first movement that sets an optimistic tone. In the second and fourth movements we see him little short of showing off his contrapuntal powers. The Andante is a two-part canon, or ‘specie d’un canone in contrapunto doppio’ as he wrote in the score, in which the two parts are capable of being inverted—and indeed are in the second half of the opening paragraph. The Finale is even more remarkable. Not only is it primarily in the tonic minor (not unknown, yet not that common in a major-key work of the time), but at its heart is a contrapuntal tour de force—a triple fugue ‘in contrapunto doppio’, in other words three concurrent two-part fugues. (Haydn later added trumpet and timpani parts to the third and fourth movements when he managed to enlist some instruments from the prince’s Forchtenstein Castle to replace those lost in the Eszterháza fire, though none of these additions are included in the present recording.)

Symphony No 71 most likely dates from the following year, 1780. It may lack the adventurous sonorities of No 72 or the sense of daring in No 70, but it remains a fine representative of the more straightforward Eszterháza symphonies. It opens with a brief Adagio introduction to a genial ‘Allegro con brio’. A generally peaceful Andante (the violins are muted and sforzando chords only briefly ruffle the flow) and untroubled Minuet (the trio is scored for two violin soli and largely pizzicato accompaniment) lead to an exuberant finale.

Matthew Rye © 1991

Symphony No 70 in D major
Symphony No 71 in B flat major
Symphony No 72 in D major

The three decades Haydn spent in the service of the Esterházy family proved one of the most artistically fruitful relationships in the history of musical patronage. By the middle of the eighteenth century the Esterházys were the wealthiest and most powerful family of the Hungarian aristocracy and had its seat at Eisenstadt, a small town in the Burgenland hills south of Vienna, close to the current Austro-Hungarian border. Here, in the 1750s, Prince Paul Anton Esterházy founded a permanent orchestra and established seasons of theatrical and operatic performances. Haydn was engaged to the court in 1761, first as Deputy Kapellmeister, then as Kapellmeister.

In 1764 Paul Anton’s successor, Prince Nikolaus (known as ‘The Magnificent’), visited Versailles for the first time and he was inspired on his return to Hungary to build his own sumptuous palace on the southern shore of the Neusiedlersee. More or less completed by 1766, when Haydn moved there, and named Eszterháza Castle, it became the Esterházys’ summer residence—the rather damp climate and surroundings forced them to winter in Eisenstadt—but its facilities out-did any of their other properties. There was an opera house (opened in 1768) that could seat over four hundred, a puppet theatre (1773), and a special Music House of over ninety rooms, providing living quarters for Haydn, all the musicians, actors and other servants. With its extensive season of opera (Haydn often had to conduct two or three works a week) Eszterháza soon became renowned all over Europe as a centre for musical and cultural excellence, with regular visits from aristocrats and musicians from far and wide. Haydn was required to provide a steady stream of symphonies, operas, and liturgical, vocal and chamber music for each of these special occasions that came along.

So by the early 1780s—when the three symphonies recorded here were composed—Haydn had been in the employ of the Esterházy family for twenty years. Although comfortably off as regards pay and conditions, he had by now begun to resent the claustrophobic environment of Eszterháza (despite being free to visit Vienna in the winter) and, flouting the terms of his original contract, he wrote increasingly for outside bodies. Symphonies 73, 74 and 75 represent both sides of this divide. The great paradox was that, cut off as he was from much of the rest of the musical world outside, his music was, largely unbeknown to him, already making him something of a celebrity all over Europe. Indeed, by the late 1770s his symphonies were featuring regularly on concert programmes in Paris and London, the two cities that soon would do more than any others to nurture some of his greatest works in the medium.

By this stage in the development of the symphony as a genre, the four-movement form was well established and is that followed by all three symphonies here, though two—73 and 75—feature a slow introduction to the opening movement, one of Haydn’s favourite formal devices, right up to the last ‘London’ symphonies of the mid-1790s. The slow movements proper range from the delicacy of the violin-and-cello duet in No 74 to the rich, hymn-like solemnity of No 75. The minuets are a typically Haydnesque mix of the rustic and the aristocratic, while the finales are all vivacious yet each distinctive and memorable in its own way.

Of these symphonies only one, No 73, has any definite link with the prince. Nikolaus had been particularly impressed with Haydn’s opera La fedeltà premiata (‘Fidelity Rewarded’), first performed in February 1781 to reopen the opera house at Eszterháza which had burned down the previous winter. The symphony borrows the original overture to the opera for its finale, and it seems quite likely that Haydn assembled the work to celebrate the prince’s return from a trip to Paris later in 1781, welcoming him home with a surprise reworking of one of Nikolaus’s favourite pieces—an affectionate rather than sycophantic touch. The music of the slow movement was also borrowed, this time from one of Haydn’s German Lieder, Gegenliebe (published at around the same time). The subtitle ‘La Chasse’ properly only applies to the finale. Haydn was himself a keen huntsman and made use of a then famous hunting call for the wind band solos that follow the introduction.

Symphonies Nos 74 and 75 probably date from the year before No 73 (the traditional numbering of the symphonies of both Haydn and Mozart contains many discrepancies of chronology). The first recorded appearance of No 74 is its arrival in August 1781 at the London publisher William Forster, to whom Haydn had sold the rights through the intercession of the British Ambassador to the Viennese court, General Herningham. Forster issued it with the title ‘Overture I. Composed by Giuseppe Haydn of Vienna and Published by his Authority’. This score is fuller in editorial markings (crescendos, accents, and so on) than many of his surviving manuscripts, suggesting that back at Eszterháza he was used to giving such instructions verbally to his players (the original sets of parts of his works are always more copious in markings than the orchestral scores) and with publication he had to be more explicit in his requirements.

Symphony No 75 also first appeared in print in 1781, though it too had probably been written the year before. It also has an English connection, though of a rather different nature. The symphony was performed in London during Haydn’s first English trip in 1792 and he reported in his diary:

On 26 March at Mr Barthelemon’s concert, an English clergyman was present who fell into the most profound melancholy on hearing the Andante (or ‘Poco adagio’, as it was more usually marked) … because he had dreamt the previous night that this piece was a premonition of his death. He left the company at once and took to his bed.

Today, 25 April, I heard from Herr Barthelemon that this Protestant clergyman had died.

The symphony has no other morbid associations, however. Indeed, the finale is one of Haydn’s wittiest, complete with sudden pauses, unprepared changes of direction, and a whispered coda that springs one last surprise …

Matthew Rye © 1990

Symphony No 73 in D major 'La Chasse'
Symphony No 74 in E flat major
Symphony No 75 in D major

By the early 1780s Haydn had been in the employ of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy for some twenty years. Yet, although his duties kept him at court for much of the year, his music and his reputation had already reached right across Europe, as far as Spain and England. Since there were no copyright laws to speak of in those days, dissemination of music was often through the work of publishers who had no compunction in re-engraving pirated versions of orchestral parts (the usual form of publication) if they could lay their hands on manuscript versions by disreputable copyists. Haydn, though obviously averse to publications of his music that gave him no financial reward, was astute enough a businessman often to have his works brought out by more than one publisher. Such was the case with Symphonies 76, 77 and 78, issued in the early 1780s by no fewer than three companies: Torricella in Vienna, Boyer in Paris and Forster in London. (Mozart tried a similar ploy by selling a manuscript to one publisher and then writing the music out again from memory to sell to another.)

These three symphonies, not only the first since numbers 6, 7 and 8 to be written as a set (a publishing rather than a performing practice) were also the first Haydn wrote expressly for performance outside the confines of Eszterháza. They were intended for a concert tour to London, a trip that Haydn never made (he had to wait until the prince’s death in 1790 for the impresario Johann Peter Salomon finally to lure him to London). In 1781 (the year he began his association with the publisher William Forster) Haydn appears to have been invited to introduce in person some of his operas and symphonies to the London musical public. His Symphony No 53 had been performed with great success at one of the Bach-Abel concerts (run by the ‘London Bach’, Johann Christian and Karl Friedrich Abel, both of whom had taught Mozart on his visit to London in 1764) and The Morning Herald reported in November 1781 that Haydn ‘the Shakespeare of musical composition is hourly expected.’† He had still not arrived by February 1783 when the Herald again bemoaned that ‘we have got neither him nor his music—however the music is certainly to come—the musician, most probably, will remain in Vienna’. The English music historian Dr Charles Burney also wrote in a letter at about the same time,

I have stimulated a wish to get Haydn over as opera composer—but mum mum—yet—a correspondence is opened, and there is a great likelihood of it, if these cabals, and litigations ruin not the opera entirely …

Two years later, when the composer was still anxiously awaited, it was even lightheartedly mooted that he might be kidnapped, as the following, from another journal, the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, suggests:

This wonderful man, who is the Shakespeare of music, and the triumph ot the age in which we live, is doomed to reside in the court of a miserable German Prince, who is at once incapable of rewarding him, and unworthy of the honour … would it not be an achievement equal to a pilgrimage, for some aspiring youths to rescue him from his fortune and transplant him to Great Britain, the country for which his music seems to be made?

In his letter offering the three symphonies to Boyer in Paris, Haydn describes them as ‘beautiful, elegant and by no means over-lengthy … they are all very easy, and without too much concertante’. They do indeed stand out from the surrounding Eszterháza works, lacking some of the idiosyncracies that, although suitable for his own performances at the court, might have deterred foreign performers. That is not to say, however, that they lack anything in originality or quality.

Symphony No 76, like the other two, has the standard four movements and, unlike many of his other symphonies, no slow introduction to the first. Here we are launched straight into the first subject, an alternation of vigorously arpeggiated chords and a restrained, downward-moving phrase. There is no second subject as such, unless we include the brief pianissimo phrase (in the tonic key) that follows the second appearance of the falling idea. The Adagio begins with the strings alone, making the entrance of the wind on a pianissimo chord all the more effective; they return at the climax of the movement, a fortissimo tour de force of demisemiquavers and staccato semiquavers. The Minuet is followed by a lighthearted Rondo, featuring some brief woodwind solos before the final coda.

The most notable thing about Symphony No 77 is its finale, one of the first examples of a sonata-rondo form, literally a combination of sonata form with the rondo in which the C section of the A–B–A–C–A comprises a development of earlier material rather than a new theme. The preceding movements are no less distinctive: an opening Vivace with, this time, a true second subject; a leisurely, often restrained Andante sostenuto with the strings muted; and a Minuet of a vigour that looks forward to the true scherzo.

The first movement of Symphony No 78 has an urgency in keeping with its key, C minor. The second subject turns to the relative major, E flat, and it this key rather than the tonic that ultimately dominates the exposition. The development features some fine contrapuntal writing where fragments of both subjects are tossed between the various instruments. The Adagio returns to E flat major. Unlike the slow movements of the other two symphonies, the wind instruments are integrated lnto the texture from the start, while the stateliness of the music itself looks forward to the late ‘London’ symphonies. The C major Minuet is followed by a Presto rondo whose thinly scored B section turns to C major. When the same theme reappears later, so does the major mode, which remains to the end of the symphony.

Matthew Rye © 1991

Symphony No 76 in E flat major
Symphony No 77 in B flat major
Symphony No 78 in C minor

Despite the insularity of Haydn’s existence at Eszterháza, by the early 1770s his music had spread far and wide across Europe, to places as distant from Austro-Hungary as Spain and England. Parisians in particular took Haydn’s music to their hearts as shown by the large number of local publications of his works, with as many by other composers passed off under his name. As there were no such things as international copyright agreements in those times, Haydn inevitably gained little renumeration from such popularity. Yet he took every opportunity to respond to commissions from abroad, particularly Paris, the most important of which resulted in the six so-called ‘Paris’ symphonies, numbers 82 to 87.

Concert life in Paris during the eighteenth century (and indeed later) was organized by various societies who ran orchestras, staged musical events and even held competitions. The best known of them was the Concert Spirituel, but the most significant in terms of Haydn’s symphonies was the Concert de la Loge Olympique based in the theatre-like surroundings of the Salle de Spectacle de la Société Olympique. Founded in 1769 as the Concert des Amateurs with the Belgian-born composer François Gossec as its conductor, the Loge Olympique, as it was renamed in 1780, was run by a group of Freemasons. Principal among them was one of the most important late-eighteenth-century Parisian musical patrons, Claude-François-Marie Rigoley, Comte d’Ogny (1757–1790). It was at his instigation that in about 1784 the Concert commissioned six symphonies from Haydn (he later also commissioned numbers 90, 91 and 92), though he appears to have enlisted the help of the composer and chef d’orchestre Le Chevalier Joseph-Boulogne de Saint-Georges (incidentally, described by the Haydn scholar H C Robbins Landon as a ‘swashbuckling ladykiller’) to liaise with Haydn.

As so often with Haydn’s symphonies their numbering is at odds with their true chronology. He requested his Viennese publisher Artaria to issue them in the order in which he sent them—87, 85, 83, 84, 86, 82—and it appears to have been Artaria’s dogged reordering (presumably for commercial reasons) that has left them in the order we know them today. In their original sequence, the first three date probably from 1785, the second three from the following year.

The six symphonies were first performed to great acclaim during the Olympique’s 1787 season (with the young Cherubini among the violinists) and soon after were repeated at the Concert Spirituel. In January 1788 they were advertised for sale by the Parisian publisher Imbault (Haydn also gave the rights to the works to publishers in Vienna and London):

Ces Symphonies … ne peuvent manquer d’être recherchées avec le plus vif empressement par ceux qui ont eu le bonheur de les entendre, & même par ceux qui ne les connoisent pas. Le nom d’Haydn répond de leur mérite extraordinaire.

[These symphonies … cannot fail to be eagerly sought by those who have had the good fortune to hear them, and also for those who do not know them. The name of Haydn answers for their extraordinary merit.]

Neither of the subtitles attached to the first two symphonies are Haydn’s own and were probably added by admiring Parisians in the early years of their existence. No 82 gained its nickname of ‘The Bear’ from the opening of its finale, with its heavy, drone-like ostinato bass. But there is an almost animal-like vigour and excitement too to the opening movement, dominated by the aggressive repeated semiquavers of its first subject. The Allegretto bears a resemblance to variation form, but Haydn’s treatment of his theme is characteristically idiosyncratic, with two minor-key ‘B’ sections alluding to the contours of the main theme, but recognizably asserting their own individuality. With the Minuet he favours French grace and grandeur over Germanic rusticity (indeed, in most of these symphonies he uses the French term menuet) and in the trio he courts the reputed esteem of the Olympique’s wind players. This continues in the (definitely rustic) finale, a sonata movement in which the aforementioned ‘bear-like’ ostinato marks each structural moment.

Haydn rarely returned to the minor key for a symphony after the emotionally heavily laden works of his Sturm und Drang period in the 1760s and ’70s, but when he did, as in No 83, the result is on a par with the equivalent works of Mozart (whose own G minor symphonies date from 1773 and 1788). Though perhaps only Haydn would have counterpointed an earnest G minor opening with the naive humour of his ‘clucking’, major-key second subject, from which the symphony derives its nickname, ‘The Hen’. It is in fact a work in which the major key comes to dominate: the first movement itself is brought to a close in a triumphant G major. The Andante is in E flat major and is a movement full of dramatic dynamic contrasts, while the Minuet is perhaps a little more Germanic than that of No 82 and the finale is a sprightly G major galop.

Symphony No 84 may not be distinguished by a nickname, but its individuality is no less apparent than in its companions. The expectant Largo introduction and delightfully varied Allegro are followed by a set of variations on a 6/8 theme with Haydn again making the most of his wind instruments—towards the end of the Andante they achieve independence from the strings in a brief but effective pizzicato-accompanied passage. A gutsy Minuet and spirited finale complete the work.

Matthew Rye © 1992

Symphony No 82 in C major 'The Bear'
Symphony No 83 in G minor 'The Hen'
Symphony No 84 in E flat major

Despite the insularity of Haydn’s existence at Eszterháza, by the early 1770s his music had spread far and wide across Europe, to places as distant from Austria as Cadiz and London. Parisians in particular took Haydn’s music to their hearts, as shown by the large number of local publications of his works, with as many by other composers passed off under his name. As there were no such things as international copyright agreements in those times, Haydn inevitably gained little remuneration from such popularity. Yet he took every opportunity to respond to commissions from abroad, particularly from Paris. The most important resulted in the six so-called ‘Paris’ Symphonies, numbers 82 to 87.

Concert life in Paris during the eighteenth century (and indeed later) was organised by various societies who ran orchestras, staged musical events and even held competitions. The best known of them was the Concert Spirituel, but the most significant in terms of Haydn’s Symphonies was the Concert de La Loge Olympique, based in the theatre-like surroundings of the Salle de Spectacle de la Société Olympique and boasting an orchestra much larger than any Haydn could muster in Austria. Founded in 1769 as the Concert des Amateurs, with the Belgian-born composer François Gossec as its conductor, the Loge Olympique (as it was renamed in 1780) was run by a group of Freemasons. Principal among them was one of the most important late eighteenth-century music patrons, Claude-François-Marie Rigoley, Comte d’Ogny (1757–1790).

It was at the Count’s instigation that in about 1784 the Concert commissioned six symphonies from Haydn (he later also commissioned numbers 90 to 92), though he appears to have enlisted the help of the composer, chef d’orchestre and infamous ladies’ man Le Chevalier Joseph-Boulogne de Saint-Georges to liaise with Haydn (any correspondence from this period is lost).

As so often with Haydn’s symphonies, their numbering is at odds with their true chronology. He requested that his Viennese publisher Artaria should issue them in the order in which he sent them (87, 85, 83, 84, 86, 82) and it appears to have been Artaria’s dogged re-ordering (presumably for commercial reasons) that has left them in the order we know them today (Imbault issued them in a third arrangement). In their original sequence, the first three probably date from 1785, the second three from the following year.

The six were first performed to great acclaim during the Olympique’s 1787 season (with the young Cherubini among the violinists) and soon after were repeated at the Concert Spirituel. In January 1788 they were advertised for sale by the Parisian publisher Imbault (Haydn also gave the rights to publishers in Vienna and London):

These symphonies … cannot fail to be eagerly sought by those who have the good fortune to hear them, and also for those who do not know them. The name of Haydn answers for their extraordinary merit.

Such was the success of these works that none other than Marie Antoinette expressed her appreciation, claiming No 85 to be her favourite, whereupon Imbault added the subtitle ‘La Reine de France’ to the first edition. Haydn had already established the symphony’s place in Parisian hearts by including a French folksong, ‘La gentille jeune Lisette’, as the subject of his slow movement. The last phrase of the decorative flute solo in the second half of the movement has, in the first published score, an instruction for an exclamation of joy—whether this was the publisher simply recording an early audience’s reaction at this point, or was a direction of Haydn’s, is not known.

Preceding this Romance is a Vivace first movement (with slow introduction) boasting a rather understated principal theme underlined by descending scales. The trio of the third movement Minuet reveals a distinctive solo use of the woodwind instruments characteristic of these Parisian works, while the energetic finale is a fine example of Haydn’s sonata-rondo form, where the recurring themes of the rondo are developed and arranged formally in a manner comparable with a symphonic opening movement.

Symphony No 86 is one of the most harmonically adventurous of the set. The Adagio introduction is straightforward enough, but the Allegro’s first main theme only arrives at the tonic key by way of an aside alluding to a more distant tonality, a ploy that gives Haydn plenty of scope for quick modulations in the development section. The slow movement—unusually named Capriccio—continues tendency towards chromaticism, with passages of a poignancy worthy of Mozart.

The Minuet sees Haydn introducing elements of sonata form, particularly the more developmental procedures, into the standard tripartite dance structure. The finale is another characteristically witty rondo.

Symphony No 87 was probably the first in this set to be written, though since all six were composed over a relatively brief period of time there is little of significance to mark out one as being more advanced than another. That said, the opening movement of No 87 (no slow introduction this time) does display greater concision and textural transparency than its more complex neighbours. The Adagio makes much use of solo woodwind (flute, oboe and bassoon) and there is an extended solo for the oboe in the Minuet’s simple trio. A brisk rondo finale rounds off one of Haydn’s sunniest symphonies.

Matthew Rye © 1994

Symphony No 85 in B flat major 'La Reine'
Symphony No 86 in D major
Symphony No 87 in A major

Until the 1780's, most of Haydn’s symphonies had been destined for the court of his employer, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy. Although he often felt imprisoned in his job as Kapellmeister, stuck in the small-town and rural atmospheres of the Prince’s two main residences at Eisenstadt and Eszterháza, south-east of Vienna, Haydn’s reputation had nevertheless spread far and wide. Paris in particular held a soft spot for his music, to the extent that in 1785 he was commissioned to write six symphonies for a French aristocrat, the Comte d’Ogny. The result, numbers 82 to 87, were completed by the following year. Two more symphonies (88 and 89) ended up in Paris in 1789, sold to a French publisher by the violinist/businessman Johann Tost.

By then, three further symphonies had been written: numbers 90, 91 and 92. There is again a Paris connection, though a little more indirect. Early in 1788 Haydn received a commission from Prince Krafft-Ernst of Oettingen-Wallerstein for a set of three symphonies for the orchestra at his Bavarian castle. The composer at first declined, claiming lack of time to complete the works, but he changed his mind when a similar commission came from the aforementioned Comte d’Ogny. Now the businessman in Haydn saw that he could get away with—as it were—killing two birds with one stone, by writing just three symphonies to fulfil both commissions. He sent the scores to Paris, dedicating the second two personally to le Comte. But problems occurred when, having handed over his only autograph copies in this way, he needed to provide Prince Krafft-Ernst with the same scores. His rather cunning solution was to send just the orchestral parts to the prince, claiming that the scores were illegible due to his bad eyesight—even enclosing a sample page as ‘proof’. The ploy worked and the prince was encouraged to coax another three symphonies from him, with a gold snuffbox plus fifty ducats sent as an inducement. But numbers 90, 91 and 92 were the last works in the medium Haydn wrote before setting out on his historic first journey to London with the impresario Johann Peter Salomon in December 1790. However, he did follow up an invitation to visit the prince at Wallerstein on his outward journey and later presented him with the scores of his first four ‘London’ symphonies (actually numbers 93, 96, 97 and 98).

Symphonies Nos 90 and 91 were composed one after the other in 1788. While all three symphonies recorded here open with a slow introduction, No 90 is unique among them in the way the ensuing Allegro takes up, more or less intact, the main melodic idea of the Adagio. The Allegro’s secondary theme is given to the flute, then the oboe, and shows Haydn’s writing for the woodwind already looking forward to the later London works. The slow movement is in one of Haydn’s favourite forms, that of double variation. A melody in F major alternates in an A–B–A–B–A pattern with a contrasting one in F minor. There follows a rather French-sounding Menuet (Haydn even uses the French title) with a delicately scored trio section. In the sonata-form finale the same idea furnishes both the first and second subject groups, the contrast being provided by texture and key. Key itself plays an important part in the remarkable ending to the movement. An extended recapitulation in C major culminates in what, to all intents and purposes, sounds like a resolute conclusion. But Haydn has a trick up his sleeve. He gives the whole orchestra four bars rest then takes up fragments of the main theme a semitone higher, in D flat major, and spends a lengthy coda bringing the music back soundly to C again.

The Largo that opens Symphony No 91 is a more stately introduction than the more teasing affair of No 90, responding like Mozart and Beethoven to the ‘aristocratic’ nature of E flat major. Yet the Allegro begins in a deceptively simple vein, with its main theme little more than a near-chromatic rising scale played concurrently with a diatonic falling one. As the movement progresses, it becomes clear that this is another of Haydn’s monothematic creations: the chromatic idea is rarely absent and distinctions between ‘first’ and ‘second’ subjects are somewhat blurred, with the most obvious contrasting theme appearing in a tonally transitional context. As in No 90, the slow movement is in variation form with contrasting sections in B flat major and minor, though here the latter forms a ‘one off’ centrepiece. The minuet and trio are followed by another monothematic sonata-form finale.

Haydn completed Symphony No 92 in 1789. A year later his employer Prince Nikolaus died, and his successor, Prince Anton, having few of the cultural leanings of his predecessor, disbanded the court orchestra. Haydn was immediately sought out by the impresario Salomon, who whisked him off to London. In July 1791 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Oxford and conducted his symphony in the Sheldonian Theatre for the occasion, whence it gained its nickname of the ‘Oxford’. It was indeed the ideal work to demonstrate his worthiness. The last symphony before the twelve London works, it sums up his symphonic achievement of the previous thirty years, with its refined introduction leading to one of his most motivically concise Allegros (yet again monothematic), whose liveliness contrasts with the poetic lyricism of the Adagio cantabile. A representative minuet and trio lead to the Presto finale, a cross between sonata form and rondo, with one of Haydn’s most engaging melodic inventions dominating proceedings.

Matthew Rye © 1991

Symphony No 90 in C major
Symphony No 91 in E flat major
Symphony No 92 in G major 'Oxford'

The death of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy in September 1790 marked a turning point in Haydn’s career. The Prince’s son, Anton, did not share his father’s love of music and promptly disbanded the court orchestra, keeping Haydn, who had been in the family’s service for nearly thirty years, on as Kapellmeister in name only. Offers came flooding in to the newly emancipated composer who was on the point of accepting a post with the King of Naples when a stranger appeared at the door of his lodgings in Vienna and uttered the immortal words, ‘I am Salomon from London and have come to fetch you’.

Johann Peter Salomon, a native of Beethoven’s home city, Bonn, was one of London’s most successful concert promoters and impresarios. With the promise of generous commission fees and ‘star billing’ in his London concerts season, Haydn was easily persuaded to take the seventeen-day trip across Europe, despite the fact that he had rarely before travelled beyond the confines of Vienna and the Esterházy estates.

Having said what was to prove his final farewell to his friend Mozart, Haydn and his new patron set off together on their long journey, arriving on British soil on New Year’s Day 1791. Haydn immediately became the toast of London society—his music had long since preceded him—and he had quickly to become used to the continual round of functions, concerts and social engagements that dominated the capital in the late eighteenth century.

From the conventional numbering of the twelve symphonies (numbers 93 to 104) he composed for his two London sojourns (1791/2 and 1794/5) it might be thought that No 93 was the first to appear. But, as so often in his symphonic œuvre, traditional numbering unfairly represents their true order of composition. Thus the first symphonies to appear during Haydn’s initial concerts in London were in fact numbers 95 and 96, composed in the early spring of 1791 as he awaited the delayed opening of Salomon’s concert season. This began in March with a performance of his Symphony No 92, a work composed a couple of years earlier but new to London audiences (a performance of it formed the centrepiece of the celebrations in July surrounding his receiving of an honorary doctorate of music from the University of Oxford, since when it has been known as the ‘Oxford’).

As well as this symphony, Haydn brought with him several other new works for his first season in London, therefore needing only to write only two more symphonies that year to fulfil his obligations to Salomon. No 95, the second of these, is unique among the ‘London’ symphonies in both being in a minor key and having no slow introduction to the first movement. Instead, there is a dramatic call to attention, followed after a pause by a contrasting ‘dolce’ theme on the first violins, and this dichotomy rules the drama of the movement to come, subdued for a while by a more relaxed E flat major second subject. Haydn turns to this same key for the slow movement, a set of variations on a 6/8 theme. The Minuet returns to C minor, but the trio, with its virtuoso cello solo, settles into the major before the finale sails off optimistically into the same key. This latter movement has a strong fugal content, though used more as a transitional tool than as the fundamental role it played in, for example, Mozart’s ‘Jupiter’ Symphony.

Symphonies Nos 93 and 94 were composed during the summer of 1791. Most of London society decamped to the country for roughly half of the year and Haydn spent this time in Hertfordshire, recuperating from the hectic life of the city at the country retreat of one Mr Brassey, a Lombard Street banker and father of one of his pupils.

No 93 was first performed on 17 February 1792 as the centrepiece of Salomon’s first concert of the new season at the Hanover Square Rooms and was rapturously received. ‘Such a combination of excellence was contained in every movement,’ commented The Times the next morning, ‘as inspired all of the performers as well as the audience with enthusiastic ardour. Novelty of idea, agreeable caprice, and whim combined with all HAYDN’S sublime and wonted grandeur, gave additional consequence to the SOUL and feelings of every individual present.’

As was common by this stage in Haydn’s symphonic writing, No 93 opens with a slow introduction, in this case a surprisingly tonally wayward few bars, modulating to the ‘Neapolitan’ key of E flat major as early as the eleventh bar. But this ‘challenge’ is a typical piece of Haydnesque deception: the ‘Allegro assai’ that follows is unusually limited in its tonal range, tending towards closely related sharps keys rather than the flat side of the spectrum.

The slow movement is a set of variations on a theme first presented by a quartet of string soloists and repeated with tutti strings and with the melody later doubled by a solo bassoon. The formal-sounding dotted rhythms of the first variation recall Handel, a composer whose music Haydn had by now got to know particularly well since his arrival in London, but the more ‘liberating’ triplet patterns that follow the next variation eventually come to dominate this exquisitely crafted and—with the fortissimo bassoon bottom C in the final bars—not un-humorous movement. The witty Minuet is followed by a rondo finale in very much the same genial mood as the main body of the first movement.

Symphony No 94 had to wait until the sixth concert of Salomon’s 1792 season for its first performance and it was just as well received. The ‘Vivace assai’ that follows the slow introduction is one of Haydn’s most brilliant and inventive first movements, brimming with energy and with harmonic, thematic and rhythmic delights.

Despite the old story, Haydn later declared the ‘surprise’ loud chord in the slow movement was not added to wake up an inattentive, dozing audience (reports suggest London boasted one of the most alert and musically interested audiences in Europe) but simply as a dramatic effect, as a foil to an almost naively simple theme (there is, incidentally, no indication of the ‘surprise’ in the manuscript score). However, his violinist friend Gyrowetz recalled Haydn remarking ‘That will make the ladies scream’ when showing him the score before the first performance. Aside from the ‘surprise’, the movement is an elegantly formed set of variations.

The Minuet and finale continue the particularly high level of inspiration found in this symphony, the latter movement being an exhilarating sonata rondo that passes through a wide range of keys and instrumental combinations on its hectic way to its purposeful conclusion.

Matthew Rye © 1993

Symphony No 93 in D major
Symphony No 94 in G major 'Surprise'
Symphony No 95 in C minor

Such was the success of Haydn’s first visit to London for the 1791 and 1792 concert seasons (his stay amounted to some eighteen months) that attempts were made to entice him back from Austria for the following season. Johann Peter Salomon, the German-born, London-based impresario who had whisked him away from Vienna on the earlier occasion was fully expecting his return for the start of the new subscription season at the Hanover Square Rooms in February 1793. But the London Diary: or, Woodfall’s Register for 17 January 1793 noted that ‘Haydn the great composer is prevented from visiting this country as early as he expected, by a polypus in his nose, on account of which he has been obliged to undergo a painful operation, but without the desired success’. But the reasons for his delay seem to have amounted to more than ill-health. On the one hand the political situation in Europe was gradually deteriorating with the continuing repercussions of the French Revolution: the French king Louis XVI was guillotined in January 1793 and the war which would drag on until the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 was just beginning. Meanwhile, on the other hand, he had only been back in Vienna for some six months and had not had enough time to complete enough new music to make another trip so soon seem worthwhile.

A year later, however, although the chaos in France and elsewhere had by no means lessened, Haydn felt well enough to travel again and in January 1794 he set off in a coach lent by his friend Baron van Swieten, accompanied by his servant and copyist Johann Elssler. But Haydn did not anticipate the effects of wartime conditions on his journey and it took him eighteen days to reach London, rather than the fourteen he had planned. As a result, he missed by a day the advertised first concert of Salomon’s new season on 3 February. Instead, the weekly concerts began on the following Monday, 10 February, with Haydn reintroducing himself to London with a brand new symphony, No 99 in E flat. This was the first of three, together with the string quartets of Op 71 and Op 74, commissioned by Salomon for that year’s concerts.

Despite the conventional numbering, the next symphony to appear was No 101 in D major, at the fourth concert of the series on 3 March. Haydn appears to have arrived in the country with only No 99 and the minuets of 100 and 101 complete, suggesting that he must have soon recovered from his tiring journey and settled into his comfortable lodgings in Bury Street, St James, in order to have No 101 ready in a little over three weeks, particularly considering the hectic social life he seems to have led when in London.

As with the previous symphonies for London, numbers 93 to 98, the premiere of No 101 brought a by now familiar storm of acclaim from the London press:

As usual the most delicious part of the entertainment was a new grand Overture [Symphony] by HAYDN; the inexhaustible, the wonderful, the sublime HAYDN! The first two movements were encored; and the character that pervaded the whole composition was heartfelt joy. Every new Overture he writes, we fear, till it is heard, he can only repeat himself; and we are every time mistaken - Morning Chronicle, 5 March

Symphony No 101 opens with a portentous slow introduction in the tonic minor, full of subtle allusions—particularly its opening rising scale—to the themes of the contrasting, even carefree D major Presto that suddenly breaks through the seeming gloom. Yet for once it is the slow movement which gives this symphony its justified fame. Already by 1798 the movement was being published with the nickname ‘The Clock’, derived from the tick-tocking ostinato accompaniment to the Andante’s main theme. The form is unusual, a combination of variation and rondo, in that the recurring main theme never reappears in exactly the same form: on its second return, after the tutti minore outburst, the ‘tick-tock’ is given to the flute and bassoon, more than two octaves apart, with the theme itself lying between the two on the violins—when the oboe joins in we have some 34 bars of quartet for three wind soloists (plus a single appearance by the second oboe) and a single string line—an inspired piece of scoring.

By this stage in his career, Haydn’s minuets were assuming more importance in the symphony and already tending towards the extended, sonata-form scherzos of Beethoven. That of No 101 is no exception with, in this case, an extended trio which has fun with a hurdy-gurdy-like ostinato, doggedly refusing to change its harmony to match that of the soaring flute melody above it—only on its second appearance does the ‘village band’ oblige. Similarly, at the end of the section the horns appear to enter too early with a tonic pedal maintained beneath a dominant chord.

Many commentators have laid claim to the finale of this symphony being Haydn’s greatest—and one can see why. It is almost entirely built out of its opening theme, such that there is no definable second subject, the music being in a constant state of motivic development from the very beginning—even connecting passagework derives from some aspect of its rising and falling scalic figures. With one audacious flash of formal and motivic inspiration after another, Haydn then has the nerve to begin his recapitulation as a pianissimo fugue for the strings, keeping the instrumentation at a minimum until the whole orchestra bursts in for the coda, with one final hesitant moment before a surge of upward-rushing scales brings the symphony to an exuberant close.

By January 1795 it became apparent to Salomon that he would have to cancel his forthcoming season, owing to his difficulty in persuading singers to cross from the Continent at a time of escalating war. Coincidentally, at about the same time the Italian violinist G B Viotti founded a series of Opera Concerts at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, an enterprise that both Haydn and his impresario joined. At these concerts were performed the last three of Haydn’s symphonies. No 102 had already been composed in the summer and autumn of 1794, presumably with the Salomon season in mind, but was performed instead at Viotti’s first concert on 2 February 1795. It was on this occasion that, during the finale, a chandelier fell from the ceiling, miraculously hurting no one, an event that somehow became attached to Symphony No 96 which has always been known as ‘The Miracle’ in England. Press notices were again adulatory:

… the new Overture, composed by the inimitable HAYDN, was performed in a masterly stile, as it most richly deserved to be. His genius, as we have frequently before had occasion to remark, is inexhaustible. In harmony, modulation, melody, passion and effect, he is wholy unrivaled [sic]. The last movement was encored: and notwithstanding an interruption by the accidental fall of one of the chandeliers, it was performed with no less effect - Morning Chronicle, 3 February

The slow introduction had now become more or less standard practice in Haydn’s symphonies and No 102 is no exception, with, as in No 101, the opportunity taken to hint at the thematic material of the main part of the movement. Indeed, there is a thematic rigour in this movement comparable with the finale of No 101 and, for example, in the bridge to the second subject, the five-note phrase first heard immediately after the opening chord, is taken up as a developmental figure. After the slow movement of No 101, the Adagio here is more straightforward, though the scoring is no less miraculous, with a dream-like quality imparted by its chordal washes and seemingly wayward triplet movement. Similarly, the Minuet shows a different side of Haydn’s personality from the relative dignity displayed in that of No 101; here the feeling is altogether more rustic and urgent, with contrast provided by the lightly-scored, wind-dominated trio. The finale is one of Haydn’s most humorous and lighthearted sonata-rondos, with its musical roots in Italian opera buffa as much as in symphonic tradition, and with a jokiness that well and truly cocks a snook at the seriousness of the early movements.

Two months after the premiere of Symphony No 102, the Prince of Wales (later George IV) married the Princess of Brunswick and among a whole string of musical events to celebrate the occasion was an elaborate masque, Windsor Castle, composed by Salomon and staged at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, during April 1795. Unusually, the overture for these performances was not by Salomon but by Haydn (though Salomon later added one of his own). This ‘Overture to an English Opera’, as it came to be known, drew admiration in its own right and Haydn later used it for his then unperformed Orpheus opera, L’anima del filosofo (1791, originally intended for London performance that year)—indeed, considering the similarity of themes in the overture and opera, it may well date back to the time of the opera itself. The overture is in what was to become the standard form of a slow introduction leading to a fast main section, here a joyous C major Presto.

Matthew Rye © 1992

Symphony No 101 in D major 'The Clock'
Symphony No 102 in B flat major
Overture to an English opera 'Windsor Castle'

The Symphony No. 94 in G major (Hoboken 1/94) is the second of the twelve so-called London symphonies (numbers 93-104) written by Joseph Haydn. It is usually called by its nickname, the Surprise Symphony, although in German it is more often referred to as the Symphony "mit dem Paukenschlag" ("with the kettledrum stroke").
Haydn's music contains many jokes, and the Surprise Symphony includes probably the most famous of all: a sudden fortissimo chord at the end of an otherwise piano opening theme in the variation-form second movement. The music then returns to its original quiet dynamic, as if nothing had happened, and the ensuing variations do not repeat the joke.
In Haydn's old age, George August Griesinger, his biographer, asked whether he wrote this "surprise" to awaken the audience. Haydn replied:
No, but I was interested in surprising the public with something new, and in making a brilliant debut, so that my student Pleyel, who was at that time engaged by an orchestra in London (in 1792) and whose concerts had opened a week before mine, should not outdo me. The first Allegro of my symphony had already met with countless Bravos, but the enthusiasm reached its highest peak at the Andante with the Drum Stroke. Encore! Encore! sounded in every throat, and Pleyel himself complimented me on my idea.
The work was popular at its premiere. The Woodfall's Register critic wrote: "The third piece of HAYDN was a new Overture [i.e. symphony], of very extraordinary merit. It was simple, profound, and sublime. The andante movement was particularly admired."
The Morning Herald critic wrote:
The Room was crowded last night…. A new composition from such a man as HAYDN is a great event in the history of music. — His novelty of last night was a grand Overture, the subject of which was remarkably simple, but extended to vast complication, exquisitly modulated and striking in effect. Critical applause was fervid and abundant."


The Symphony No. 100 in G major, Hoboken I/100, is the eighth of the twelve so-called London Symphonies written by Joseph Haydn and completed in 1793 or 1794. It is popularly known as the Military Symphony.
The nickname "Military" derives from the second movement, which features prominent fanfares written for C-trumpets and percussion effects. One reviewer wrote after the premiere that the second movement evoked the "hellish roar of war increas[ing] to a climax of horrid sublimity!"
The "Military" second movement is derived from a movement from an earlier Concerto for Lire Organizzata in G, Hob. VIIh/3, which Haydn had composed for Ferdinand IV, King of Naples. The movement is in ternary form with central section in the minor. The instrumentation is richer than the other movements of the symphony. It is the only movement that uses divided violas and clarinets, but most importantly is the use of "Turkish" instruments (triangle, cymbals and bass drum) which make their first appearance in the central minor section. The movement concludes with an extended coda featuring a bugle call for solo trumpet, a timpani roll, which was a revolutionary adaptation of the instrument, and a loud outburst in A flat major.

The Symphony No. 104 in D major (Hoboken 1/104) is Joseph Haydn's final symphony. It is the last of the twelve so-called London Symphonies, and is known (somewhat arbitrarily, given the existence of eleven others) as the London Symphony.
The work was composed by Haydn while he was living in London in 1795, and premiered there at the King’s Theatre on 4 May 1795, in a concert consisting entirely of Haydn's own compositions and directed by the composer. The premiere was a success; Haydn wrote in his diary "The whole company was thoroughly pleased and so was I. I made 4000 gulden on this evening: such a thing is possible only in England."

(Wikipedia)

Symphony No 94 in G major 'Surprise'
Symphony No 100 in G major 'Military'
Symphony No 104 in D major 'London'