About this Recording
8.553222 - HAYDN: Symphonies Nos. 45, 94 and 101
English 

Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)

Symphony No.45 in F Sharp Minor "Farewell"
Symphony No.94 in G Major "Surprise"
Symphony No.101 in D Major "The Clock"

 

Joseph Haydn was as prolific as any eighteenth century composer, his fecundity a matter, in good part, of the nature of his employment and the length of his life. Born in 1732 in the village of Rohrau, the son of a wheelwright, he was recruited to the choir of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna at the age of eight, later earning a living as best he could as a musician in the capital and making useful acquaintances through his association with Metastasio, the Court Poet, and the composer Nicola Porpora.

In 1759, after some eight years of teaching and free-lance performance, whether as violinist or keyboard-player, Haydn found greater security in a position in the household of Count Morzin as director of music, wintering in Vienna and spending the summer on the Count's estate in Bohemia, where an orchestra was available. In 1760 Haydn married the eldest daughter of a wig-maker, a match that was to bring him no great solace, and by the following year he had entered the service of Prince Paul Anton Esterázy as deputy to the old Kapellmeister Gregor Werner, who had much fault to find with his young colleague. In 1762 Prince Paul Anton died and was succeeded by his brother Prince Nikolaus, who concerned himself with the building of the great palace of Esteráza. In 1766 Werner died, and Haydn assumed the full duties of Kapellmeister, spending the larger part of the year at Esterháza and part of the winter at Eisenstadt, where his first years of service to the Esterházy family had passed.

Haydn's responsibilities at Esterháza were manifold. As Kapellmeister he was in full charge of the musicians employed by the prince, writing music of all kinds, and directing performances both instrumental and operatic. This busy if isolated career came to an end with the death of Prince Nikolausin 1790. From then onwards Haydn had greater freedom, while continuing to enjoy the title and emoluments of his position as Kapellmeister to the Prince's successors.

Haydn's release from his immediate responsibilities allowed him, in 1791, to accept an invitation to visit London, where he provided music for the concerts organised by the German-born violinist Johann Peter Salomon. His considerable success led to a second visit in 1794. The following year, at the request of the new Prince Esterházy, who had succeeded his elder brother in 1794, he resumed some of his earlier duties as Kapelhneister, now in Eisenstadt and in Vienna, where he took up his own residence until his death in 1809

Haydn's Farewell Symphony was written in 1772, occasioned by the prolonged stay of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy at his Hungarian palace. Some of the musicians had been compelled to leave their wives behind in Eisenstadt when the Prince took up his summer residence. The Symphony, in the final Adagio of which the musicians leave one by one, was intended as a delicate hint that the time had come to return to Eisenstadt, although some contemporary sources suggest that the subject of complaint was the possible reduction of the musical establishment.

The Symphony, in the key of F sharp minor, is scored for the usual Esterháza forces of pairs of oboes and horns, bassoon and strings. The first movement opens with the principal theme, descending arpeggios played by the first violins against sustained wind chords and the urgent syncopation of the second violins. Sonata form is treated with considerable freedom, the second subject making its D major appearance in the development and the following recapitulation inviting an unusual further development of the principal theme. The A major second movement allows muted violins to announce the main theme, the wind having very little to add during the course of the movement. An F sharp major Minuet follows, with a Trio that allows the French horns momentary prominence. This leads to a finale that modulates to introduce the unexpected slow conclusion, in which player after player leaves the platform, until only two muted violins are left.

In 1791, six new symphonies were to be provided for the subscription concerts organised by Salomon at the Hanover Square Rooms. Symphony No. 94 was to be performed at a concert on 23rd March, 1792, the sixth of the new series, and proved to have an enduring popularity. The first movement opens with a slow introduction, followed by a gentle enough first subject and a double second subject. The well known C major slow movement provides the surprise of a sudden burst of sound, interrupting the steady progress of the melody, which is then varied. The Minuet is much quicker than is usually the case, its Trio opening with first violins and bassoon in octaves. The finale is launched, as usual, by the strings, with a cheerful first subject, succeeded by a contrasting second subject in sonata form.

Symphony No.101 belongs to the group of six symphonies written for Haydn's second visit to London in 1794. It was played there at a concert on 3rd March, followed by operatic songs, a performance by Viotti of a violin concerto and by Fiorillo of a Chaconne. Again, as with most of the London symphonies, there is a slow introduction, this time in D minor, an eerie preface to a bright D major movement from which the symphony derives its nickname, The Clock, its source the accompanying figure with which the movement opens. The Minuet returns from G major to the key of D major, its Trio providing a lop-sided clock accompaniment to the initial flute melody. The symphony ends with a finale in which the second subject is a clear variant of the first. There is a D minor section, replaced by the major key to bring the work to a dramatic conclusion.


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