Haydn’s Experimental Style

Taken from Pauly, Music in the Classic Period


Early Symphonies

Movements flexible in number and type

Written for performance: local abilities and numbers taken into account

Little stylistic distinction between chamber and orchestral music:

"as H. developed a characteristic quartet style, soloistic passages
became rare in his symphonies."

Texture: often contrapuntal — canon (some minuets) & fugue (finales of 3, 13, 40)

Folk character, esp. in minuets

Minuet not a fixed form

Winds emphasized in trios — vestige of Baroque


No. 26 — Gregorian chant (lamentation) used as cantus firmus in several movements.

No. 31 — (hunting type) opening bars of the first movement brought back toward the end of the last: Cyclic.


Middle Symphonies (Storm and Stress)

Great number of movements in minor

Unpredictable forms

Large variety of 2nd theme treatments

Possibly distant key relationships between movements

"False Reprise"


No. 44 (E minor)

No. 49 (F minor) — 2nd movement characterized by leaps, syncopation: restlessness.

No. 45 (F-sharp minor) — "Farewell Symphony". Monothematic 1st mvmt; new theme in development (in D major) — does not return in recap.


Mature Symphonies (from ca. 1780)

Simpler, more concise themes, lending themselves to "Working out" technique

Orchestration — full, equivalency: all sections participate in theme presentations

More chromaticism (Mozart influence?) and transitional material

Continued formal experimentation — "now … reveals mastery"

Large orchestra (London symphonies)

More attention to woodwinds; participation in slow movements

Cellos/trumpets have melodic significance, independent from basses/horns (sometimes)

Deliberate rustic/folk material for broad London audiences

Mediant relationships between sections or movements

First Movements:


Grand, majestic scale: slow intros

• longer than in earlier symphs

• more musical significance

•often thematically related to rest of movement (not always the beginning of fast section)

Related themes, or monothematicism

Thematic development throughout the movement, not just development

Counterpoint sectional rather than continuous

Other Movements:

Greater length to balance first mvmt

Much variety in slow-mvmt form: sonata, ternary (B section in minor), simple or double variations, combinations of above

Extension of form & tempo of minuet (toward scherzo)

• allegro/molto allegro (not dance tempo)

• highly stylized: loss of folk flavor (in some cases)

• second A may be re-orchestrated, different dynamics, etc.

Sonata-Rondo finales

Abrupt harmonic shifts and pauses (in London finales)



No. 73: among first to exhibit "Spinning out" technique

No. 82/I: chromatic transition from 1st to 2nd theme

No. 94: sudden ff crash on weak beat in slow movement ("Suprise" symphony)

No. 100: percussion (tri, cym, BD) in finale: Turkish ("Military" symphony); extensive coda (I)

No. 103: slow intro returns just before end of the mvmt.

No. 104/II: heavy, eloquent woodwind participation; chromaticism


Early String Quartets (op. 1-3)

Usually 5 movements (2 minuets)

Simple enough for amateurs

Viola not independant; often follows cello 8ve higher

Minuets simple, retaining dance characteristics

1st violin dominates melodic material (= singer in slow movements)

Small dimensions


Middle Quartets (op. 9, 17, 20)

4 movements

Growing thematic participation in instruments other than 1st vln.

Increased imitation and counterpoint

• preparation for independant part-writing of mature style


Op. 9, no. 2, last mvmt: opening theme returns in cello

Op. 20, no. 2 Adagio and no. 5/I: Storm and Stress — esp. in rhythm, accents

Op. 20, nos. 2, 5, 6: finales are fugues — 4, 2, 3 subjects, respectively

• Mozart knew and respected op. 20


Late Quartets (op. 33, 50, 54, 74, 76)

Mature part-writing, requiring 4 equally talented performers

Demonstration of motivic development throughout movement


Musical humor

Greater variety of key relationships between movements and with modulation/tonicization

Increased harmonic variety starting with op. 50

Theme & Variations in slow movements


Term "Scherzo" substituted for "Minuet" in op. 33, but little difference, other than tempo. Not a continued practice.

Motivic development and fragmentation in op. 50, no. 6/I

Last movement op. 54, no. 1: typical "humor" in treatment of main theme

Op. 74, no. 3: keys of mvmts 1 & 2: G minor (ends w/ G major), E major

Op. 74, no. 3/II: expressive and chromatic largo

Op. 76, no. 3: Theme & Var. /accompaniment in last variation chromatic and rhythmically complex