‘Haydn Came to London as Europe’s Greatest Living Composer. How Did He Live Up to His Billing with the First 16 Bars of His ‘London Symphony’?
Film and Music
Submitted By livi8000
‘Haydn came to London as Europe’s greatest living composer. How did he live up to his billing with the first 16 bars of his ‘London Symphony’?
Haydn was asked to produce 12 symphonies for his visits to England, the final one being called ‘The London Symphony’ which was first performed on 4 May 1795. The first 17 bars are his Adagio introduction before the sonata Allegro form.
To start off his final symphony, Haydn wanted to make an impact and to make everyone sit up and he does this by the fortissimo and having the full orchestra (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horns, trumpets, timpani and strings) playing to make a big important sounding start to his symphony. The first two bars are regal and ceremonial starting off as a fanfare. The grand impression is given with the dotted rhythms and rising perfect fifths which combined with the octave texture makes it sound powerful and impressive. The opening key is ambiguous; we know by the tonic and the fifth that it is in D but not as yet whether it is in a major or minor key. This keeps us interested in the piece and we want to know what comes next after the important starting of the piece.
The next 4 bars are new and very contrasting to the last previous opening music with a mysterious feeling or like we are waiting for something to happen again. This is achieved by the dramatic change in dynamics from fortissimo to piano. Also the instruments are different with only the bassoon and string section being used creating a homophonic texture but it is also quite antiphonal between the violin 1 and bassoon/string section. The rhythm is the same but the stepwise movement contrasts to the previous octave leaps and imply the feeling of apprehension. This is exaggerated by the fact that we now know it is in D minor (by the f naturals in the bass line). Throughout these bars Haydn uses inverted chords (I b – V7D) instead of...