Symphony No. 104 in D The London (1795)
Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809)
- Adagio – Allegro
- Minuetto and Trio – Allegro
- Finale – Spiritoso
Born on the Austrian-Hungarian border, Haydn grew up in Vienna where he learnt the violin, piano and timpani and sang in the St. Stephen’s Cathedral choir. After being allegedly sacked from the choir for cutting off another chorister’s pigtail, he spent a period learning composition from Nicola Porpora, and teaching. Then, aged 29, he entered the employ of the fabulously wealthy Esterházys. He was to remain with them for most of the rest of his working life. Cut off from the musical establishment (though he did develop a friendship with the young Mozart), Haydn was free to experiment, take risks and develop his own unique style.
In 1790 he was persuaded by the impresario Johann Salomon to take leave from the court and come to England. Salomon commissioned a series of twenty concerts including six new symphonies. Haydn was hailed by London society, returning again in 1894 to perform a second concert series that included a further six new symphonies. Although a number of these twelve “London” symphonies received nicknames, it was his last symphony, No. 104 in D, formerly called The Bagpipe, that today is known as the London symphony.
A dramatic slow introduction leads into the sunny first movement proper. The graceful slow movement is followed by a humorous and rustic Menuetto and Trio. An animated but dignified finale provides a fitting conclusion to his final symphony as Haydn passed on the symphonic baton to Beethoven.
Performed: 6 & 13 Sep 2015