Haydn Symphonies Nos 88 and 101

Josef Haydn

Josef Haydn

Yahoo, we are about to have a break from football….for a few weeks at least and then it starts all over again.  The prospect of a new season doesn't fill me full of enthusiasm, but this clip on youTube made me laugh.  youTube  

Haydn is known as the 'Father of the Symphony' principally because he wrote so many of them - 104 in total all of which are played by orchestras around the world.  He was one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the classical period.  As well as his symphonies he wrote 83 string quartets, 45 piano trios, 62 piano sonatas and numerous choral works and concerti.  As a young boy he had such a fine voice that aged  5 he entered the choir school of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, his treble voice lasted him until he was 16.  At one stage the choir master suggested that Haydn should become a castrato but his father objected and fortunately the operation never went ahead.

Haydn was one of the last composers to be employed, he worked for the Esterhazy family and in doing so received invitations to go to both London and Paris.  He went to London twice and as it took more than a fortnight to get there, both times he stayed for a year and a half.  His last 12 symphonies were written for these visits and are now known as the London Symphonies.  Symphony No 101 'The Clock' was written for the second visit, it was and still is an immensely popular work, largely because it has it all - attractive nickname, a wealth of melody, a constant sense of surprise and a stupendous finale.  The nickname is as a result of the slow ticking bassoons and pizzicato strings in the slow movement.

Adam Fischer

Adam Fischer

In between his Paris and London Symphonies he wrote 5 splendid symphonies of which Symphony No 88 is one of the finest.  It was dedicated to a violinist in the orchestra of Haydn's partron Prince Esterhazy called Johann Tost.  He turned out to be a scoundrel as on leaving the orchestra he went to Paris taking some of Haydn's manuscripts, with his permission to seek publication.  He duly got them published but ran off with the money.

The recording I recommend of these two works is by Adam Fischer conducting the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra.  It is a wonderful recording and I recommend that you download both works.

Listen to Symphony No 101 'The Clock' on Youtube   
Download from iTunes    

Posted on July 14, 2014 .