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ClassicsOnline Home » HAYDN: Symphonies, Vol. 32 (Nos. 9, 10, 11, 12)
Although the four symphonies included on this recording date from early in Haydn’s career and from the beginnings of the classical symphony, he was already a mature musician who had entered the service of the Esterházy family as Vize-Kapellmeister and approached each new attempt at writing a symphony as an experiment in form and scoring. Symphony No. 9, more an overture than a symphony in form, concludes with a Minuet and Trio, Symphonies Nos. 10 and 12 dispense with the customary minuet, while Symphony No. 11, written in the older style of a sonata da chiesa, opens with an Adagio cantabile scored for horns, strings and continuo.
By David Denton
Joseph Haydn (1732–1809): Symphonies Vol. 32
Symphonies Nos. 9–12
Joseph Haydn was born in the village of Rohrau in 1732, the son of a wheelwright. Trained at the choir-school of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, he subsequently spent some years earning a living as best he could from teaching and playing the violin or keyboard, and was able to profit from association with the old composer Porpora, whose assistant he became. Haydn's first appointment was probably as early as 1758 as Kapellmeister to a Bohemian nobleman, Count von Morzin, whose kinsman had once served as patron to Vivaldi. This was followed in 1761 by employment as Vice-Kapellmeister to one of the richest men in the Empire, Prince Paul Anton Esterházy, succeeded after his death in 1762 by Prince Nicolaus. On the death in 1766 of the elderly and somewhat obstructive Kapellmeister Gregor Werner, who had found much to complain about in the professionalism of his young and resented deputy, Haydn succeeded to his position, to remain in the same employment, nominally at least, for the rest of his life.
On the completion of the magnificent palace at Esterháza in the Hungarian plains under Prince Nicolaus, Haydn assumed command of an increased musical establishment. Here he had responsibility for the musical activities of the palace, which included the provision and direction of instrumental music, opera and music for the theatre, as well as music for the church. For his patron he provided a quantity of chamber music of all kinds, particularly for the Prince's own peculiar instrument, the baryton, a bowed string instrument with sympathetic strings that could also be plucked.
Prince Nicolaus died in 1790 and Haydn found himself able to accept an invitation to visit London. There he provided music for concert seasons organized by the violinist-impresario Salomon. A second successful visit to London in 1794 and 1795 was followed by a return to duty with the Esterházy family, the new head of which had settled principally at the family property in Eisenstadt, where Haydn had started his career with them. Much of the year, however, was to be spent in Vienna, where Haydn passed his final years, dying in 1809, as the French armies of Napoleon approached the city yet again.
Haydn lived during the period of the eighteenth century that saw the development of instrumental music from the age of Bach and Handel to the era of the classical sonata, with its tripartite first-movement form and complementary two or three further movements, the former the basis now of much instrumental composition. The symphony may claim to have become the most important form of orchestral composition and owes a great deal, if not its precise paternity, to Haydn. He first attempted such composition some time before 1759 and wrote his last symphonies for London in the final decade of the century.
Symphony No. 9 in C major has been dated to 1762. It is scored for the now usual instruments, pairs of oboes and French horns, bassoon, strings and continuo, with a pair of flutes in the second movement. For various reasons the leading Haydn scholar Robbins Landon has suggested that the symphony is in fact an overture of some kind. Its first movement, in the expected tripartite form, has an introductory air about it, with its rapid scale passages and fanfares for the wind instruments. The G major second movement, scored for two flutes and strings, allows the flutes to double the violins, with first and second violin, in any case, generally in unison. Oboes and horns return in the final Minuet, with the wind instruments assuming prominence in the Trio that it frames.
Symphony No. 10 in D major belongs to the early group of such works written for Count Morzin. It is scored for the usual complement of pairs of oboes and horns, strings and a bassoon doubling the bass line. The violin chords of the principal theme are contrasted with the softer dynamic of the following notes. The second subject of the sonata-form movement is entrusted principally to the first violin. The following G major Andante is for strings only, its descending theme heard first from the second violin and viola. The last movement, in 3/8, includes a D minor passage in its central development, before the return of the cheerful first subject.
Symphony No. 11 in E flat major, again written about 1760 for Count Morzin, is in the older style of a sonata da chiesa, its opening Adagio cantabile scored for horns, strings and continuo. The theme is heard from the second violin, answered by the first. The second movement adds the two oboes, with a second subject derived from the first. The Minuet frames a B flat major Trio in which the wind instruments are silent. The final Presto derives its principal theme from a descending version of that of the second movement, and this provides the gist of the second subject.
Symphony No. 12 in E major was written for the Esterházy musical establishment at Eisenstadt in 1763, scored, as usual, for pairs of oboes and horns, strings and continuo, with a bassoon doubling the bass line. The strings introduce the first theme, piano and in unison, and there is a similar dynamic contrast between the opening of the second subject and what follows. The second subject is presented by the violins in thirds in a descending figure, echoed by the lower strings. Oboes and horns are silent in the E minor Adagio in 6/8, but the wind instruments return for a lively final Presto.
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HAYDN: Symphonies, Vol. 32 (Nos. 9, 10, 11, 12)