Haydn’s Humor.


Joseph Haydn:

  • Symphonies Nos. 92, 93, 97, 98 and 99.

In my view, what made Haydn’s music unique was his ability to express a variety of honest emotions in his music. We can hear pathos and sadness; we can hear surprise and child-like playfulness. And we can hear the dances and Minuets of the times during which Haydn lived and composed.

On this CD we get to listen to the following:


  • Symphony No. 92 in G major ‘Oxford’
  • Symphony No. 98 in B flat major

Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis conducting.

For many years, audiences and performers have loved these works, and they are still performed often to this day.

The late Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra were long recognized as pre-eminent Haydn interpreters. During his time with the orchestra these symphonies were recorded, and they make for very enjoyable listening.

Haydn wrote the Symphony #94 in 1791, while he was giving performances for the British public, who adored him. The year 1791 also became famous, because it was the year of Mozart’s death.

Let me illustrate with the following:

While it is not in this recorded collection, let’s listen to Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra perform the Haydn Symphony No. 94 in G major. It is usually called by its nickname, the “Surprise Symphony”, although in German it is more often referred to as the Symphony “mit dem Paukenschlag“. (With the Tympani bang).

Supposedly Haydn was getting fed up with members of his audience falling asleep during performances. So he composed the slow movement (Andante) of this work intentionally leading the audience to take a nap; then he scored a huge crash to wake the snoozers up.

Listen at 09:39 for the beginning of the Andante movement, and the “crash” occurs at 10:12




Now Haydn’s Symphony No. 95 is also not in this recorded set, but here it is for you, with with Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker:



And next, here is Haydn’s Symphony No. 99, the last one in this recording, with Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker: (Listen carefully to the section starting at 01:30)



Tags: Joseph Haydn, Symphonies, Sir Colin Davis, London Symphony Orchestra