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Haydn Symphonies

Dear old Papa Haydn, as he was known in 18th century Vienna, was a fatherly figure to the finest musicians of his day.  He is also a father of the symphonic form.  This week we’ll sample some of his 104 symphonies, following their development from modest orchestral pieces to expressions of wit, humor, and drama.

Program 1

Franz Joseph Haydn wrote 104 symphonies in his entire life, starting in Pilsen, Germany for a count. Before his first symphony, he was trained intensively in a school from which a scout took him to become a Vienna Choir boy. But he started his composition career by cutting off the pigtail of a choirmate, resulting him in expulsion from the choir.

Haydn begun his own sonata form and that was when the Esterhazy family took him into their castle to write plenty of pieces just for them. Haydn worked for Prince Nikolaus, "The Magnificent" on his 22nd symphony, which used the English horns, a prime example of Haydn's desire to experiment. 

Haydn: Symphony No. 101 (excerpt)
New York Phil/Bernstein
Sony 47557

Haydn: Symphony No. 100, Military (excerpt)
London Phil/Solti
Lon 4111897

Haydn: Symphony No. 1
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra/Wolff
Teld 9031-77309

Haydn: Symphony No. 6, I
Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra/Fischer
Nimb 5240

Haydn: Symphony No. 7, II; Symphony No. 8, IV
The English Concert/Pinnock
Archiv 423098
9:15, 1:16

Haydn: Symphony No. 22, The Philosopher
Lausanne Chamber/Lopez-Cobos
Den 75660

Program 2

Without inspiration to guide him, Haydn took advantage of the first group of English horn players he heard while working for the Esterhazys. Haydn contributed four or more horns into the symphony, as he overlapped several keys together. He also contributed to the new use of the minor key in the symphony, which is especially noticeable in "Trauersinfonie," translating to "Symphony of Mourning." It was that piece that conveyed the message of farewell for the summer to the Esterhazys.  

Haydn: Symphony No. 31, Hornsignal, I & II
Concentus Musicus Wien/Harnoncourt
Teld 4509 90843

Haydn: Symphony No. 44, Trauersinfonie, I & II; Symphony No. 45, I, III & IV
Amsterdam Baroque/Koopman
Erato 88173
14:40, 16:39

Program 3

Here is a set of varying symphonies from dark and serious to light and manic. Iona Brown conducts "La Passione" and conveys the inferno at the end of the piece, as its form is scattered. But scattered in lighter terms meant changing key in "Il Distratto," which portrays an absent-minded professor falling asleep in his classroom. Haydn executes this scattered character by abruptly transitioning from F-minor to E-flat major between pages, and extends the adagio as the professor has forgotten how many movements to play. The two moods are combined in the final sample here.

Haydn: Symphony No. 49, La Passione
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Brown
Hänssler 98490

Haydn: Symphony No. 60, Il Distratto
Orpheus Chamber Ensemble
DG 437783

Haydn: Symphony No. 73, La Chasse, IV 
Lausanne Chamber/Lopez-Cobos
Den 18079

Program 4

Shortly after meeting and befriending Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Haydn travels to London with Johann Peter Salomon and encounters the ocean for the first time. Although Haydn initially struggled to write among the noise of London's streets, he was soon summoned to Oxford University to obtain a doctorate, where he showcased his "Oxford Symhpony," for which he was greatly acclaimed. A critic said Haydn wrote for "attentive, quick-witted" listeners. 

Haydn: Symphony No. 83, La Poule, I
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Kuijken
Virg 90793

Haydn: Symphony No. 88, II; Symphony No. 92, Oxford, IV
Vienna Phil/Bernstein
DG 413777
7:17, 5:39

Haydn: Symphony No. 98, IV
English Chamber/Tate
EMI 64285

Haydn: Symphony No. 100, Military, I, II & IV
London Philharmonic/Solti
Lon 4111897

Program 5

Haydn ends his career in composition after completing 104 symphonies and traveling from Vienna to London, and back again. One of the last acquaintances Haydn made during his career was with King George III in London, whose family Haydn entertained with his music. Haydn becomes financially stable and inspires the Handel and Haydn Society. Haydn was well-respected and implored by many to move to England.

Haydn: Symphony No. 101, The Clock, I & II
Orchestra Of St. Luke’s/Mackerras
Tel 80311

Haydn: Symphony No. 103, Drumroll, I
London Classical Players/Norrington
EMI 55002

Haydn: Symphony No. 104, London, I, III & IV
Pittsburgh Symphony/Previn
EMI 65178


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