Music History is Thrilling!

Classical Symphony and Franz Joseph Haydn


The Symphony was one of the most centralized instrumental genres of the Classical era. It had its roots in the Italian Overture, which was used to precede an opera in fast-slow-fast sections which were later expanded to be movements rather than only sections
A German term to mean “sensitive”, Empfindsamkeit ushered in the first manifestations of Romanticism which revealed natural characteristics associated with humanism
Mannheim school
The composers of the Mannheim school introduced the rocket theme into the symphony, the Mannheim “steam roller”, a gradually building crescendo which gathered great intensity, and expanded the symphony by contributing the Minuet and Trio which then made the genre parallel the string quartet
Sturm und Drang
Literally “Sturm und Drang” is translated to mean “Storm and Stress” and was a German movement in the 1700s that introduced emotionalism in the arts
Rounded binary form
The Minuet and Trio (Often found as the third movement of the sonata-cycle) employed binary form as the structure for each part of the three-part form. Often this form would bring back the first part at the conclusion creating a rounded binary form
The symphony found its structure in the sonata-cycle which also provided the formal structure for the Classical Sonata and the string quartet. Usually the cycle consists of four movements:
  1. Sonata-Allegro, Allegro
  2. Theme and Variations / ABA / Shortened Sonata-Form, Andante / Adagio
  3. Minuet and Trio / Scherzo and Trio, Allegretto / Allegro
  4. Rondo / Sonata-Allegro, Allegro / Vivace / Presto
Sonata-Allegro form
This highly structured form is based on two assumptions, the first being that the music establishes a home key and modulates throughout which builds tension and the second that there must be room for expansion within the themes presented. The form is usually presented in a fast paced tempo such as Allegro. An introduction may or may not be presented before the exposition which reveals the first theme or theme group followed by a bridge which facilitates a key change. The second theme or theme group is presented in the contrasting key which then leads into the codetta, bringing the exposition to a conclusion. The development builds up tension by presenting the themes heard in the exposition in fragmentation or manipulation and often with modulations before returning to the tonic. The recapitulation follows the same pattern as the exposition but all themes are presented in the tonic key and the bridge does not facilitate a key change. The coda usually works to bring the movement to a rousing conclusion
Menuet and Trio
The minuet originated from the Baroque dance suite which was a stately triple metered dance. In the Classical era, the Minuet was used as the third movement of the sonata-cycle. The three part form, Minuet-Trio-Minuet, finds each of its parts written in Binary form in which an indication is given to repeat the beginning section making the form rounded binary. The pace could vary from being stately to lively
Scherzo and Trio
In the 19th century, the minuet from the third movement of the Sonata-Cycle was replaced with the livelier Scherzo which was translated to mean “Jest” and was marked with contrasts of mood and character. It, too, was usually in triple time and followed the same pattern as the Minuet and Trio
Theme and Variations
Often found as the second movement of a sonata-cycle, the Theme and Variations is usually a slow, lyrical movement which provides contrast with the movement preceding it. A simple theme is presented in two or three parts leaving room for variation. A melodic variation could be explored in which the melody would be embellished with decoration or a harmonic variation could be applied in which the chordal structure could be shifted or new accompaniment provided or a rhythmic variation may be explored in which the meter, tempo or rhythms
The rondo was woven together from the recurrence of the rondo theme. Its simplest structure was A-B-A-B-A but if there were two contrasting themes desired the form could be A-B-A-C-A and its more complex form was A-B-A-C-A-B-A.  It was usually a lively movement
Rocket Theme
The rocket theme was an aggressive, climbing theme which originated from the Mannheim composers. It can be heard in many of Mozart’s symphonies
Haydn preferred to write his symphonies with only one theme rather than multiple contrasting themes. Initially, the theme would be presented in the tonic followed by its reappearance in the contrasting key rather than introducing another theme

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

While he was under the employment of the Hungarian nobility, the Esterhazys, Haydn was responsible for composing music for an opera company, an orchestra, a chapel, and a marionette theatre. This gave him opportunity to explore many musical genres. The character of his music was found to be beyond its time including terse, angular themes, dramatic dynamics, and daring modulations. His instrumental music included chamber music, of which he preferred the string quartet (“Quinten”), symphonies (The 12 “London” Symphonies), and solo piano works. His vocal music included both sacred and secular themes; his two oratorios, “The Seasons” and “The Creation”, both revealed the composer’s passion for God.

“Symphony No. 104 in D major “London”” (Overview and First movement only)

When Haydn’s patron passed away at Esterhazy palace, the composer took some trips to London where an impresario, Salomo, commissioned Haydn to write twelve symphonies. These symphonies are known as the “London” or “Salomo” symphonies. As with Haydn’s instrumental music, “Symphony No. 104 in D Major” had dramatic dynamic bursts, also characteristic of Haydn is the monothematic first movement.

  1. Adagio/Allegro, 2/2, D major, Sonata-Allegro
  2. Andante, 4/4, G major, Theme and Variations
  3. Allegro/Menuetto, 3/4, D major, Minuet and Trio
  4. Allegro/Spirito, 4/4, D major, Sonata-Allegro

I Movement.

Tempo: Adagio/Allegro Meter: 2/2 Key: D major Form: Sonata-Allegro Introduction. A grand Adagio introduction in d minor is presented in full orchestra in a heavy, homophonic texture and a fanfare-like rhythm. The harmonies become highly chromatic before the exposition unfolds, producing a mysterious character. Exposition. Theme 1. The tempo is now Allegro and key has returned to the tonic: D major. The theme is a sweet and cute melodic line introduced by the strings and bassoon. Suspense is felt as the dynamics remain soft. Bridge. The bridge is forceful by strong dynamics. The violins answer with figuration. The key now modulates to A major, the dominant key. Theme 2. The second theme is identical to the first but is now presented in the dominant key: A major. This indicates that the movement is monothematic. Codetta. The rhythm in the Codetta is syncopated and has stacatto notes contributing to the playful mood. Development. The development contains a six note rhythmic motive derived from thematic material. The development opens in the key of b minor. Tension is heightened by chromatic climbing up the register, an increase in dynamics and rhythmic repetition on the beat. Recapitulation. Theme 1. The theme is presented in D major as it was originally. Bridge. The bridge is again forceful but does not work to modulate the key. Theme 2. The theme is presented in the tonic again but has some chromaticism applied this time. Coda. A rousing conclusion to this grand first movement is created by a descending scale passage in the strings, driving rhythm, and strong dynamics achieved by the use of full orchestra.

All information on this article is derived from: Joseph Machlis and Kristine Forney. The Enjoyment of Music, Eight Edition, Standard Version, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1999
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