1765 Haydn No. 31

1765 Joseph Haydn Symphony No. 31 ‘Hornsignal’
Instrumentation Strings, flute, 2 oboes, 4 horns
Movements I: Allegro (D) II: Adagio (G) III: Menuet (D) IV: Moderato molto (D)
Overview Haydn wrote this symphony partly in celebration of his horn section at Eisenstadt returning to full strength. The first movement in particular marks this occasion with some humorous twists.

Look at a full score of this work / Listen to the whole symphony on YouTube

Essay Points
A) Overall form Follows the standard four-movement pattern but the last movement is both rather gentler than usual and Haydn ties the whole work together by bringing back the horn material from the first movement at the end of the finale.
B) 1st mov. / sonata Sonata form is more established and this allows Haydn to play around with it humorously.  Haydn begins the recapitulation in the tonic minor with new material, deliberately undermining both elements of the double return. Striking use of horns shows development of orchestration – here to celebrate the return of the horn section to full strength after a delay in filling vacancies in Haydn’s orchestra at Esterhazy.

Listen to the opening of this movement (Booklet: Extract 1):

Listen to the recapitulation of this movement (Booklet: Extract 2):

E) 4th / Finale This symphony ends with a gentle set of seven simple variations (another relatively common form for finales along with the rondo) followed by a somewhat unexpected final presto section using material from the first movement, which gives the horns another chance to shine.

Here is the opening of the theme (Booklet: Extract 3):

The opening of the second variation (solo cello) (Booklet: Extract 4):

The opening of the third variation (solo flute) (Booklet: Extract 5):

The opening of the seventh variation (solo bass):

Finally, at the end, the material from the first movement returns:

 F) Development of orchestra Haydn adds a flute and two extra horns to the Sinfonia a 8 configuration seen in his second symphony. Continuo keyboard would still have been added but it is much less necessary than in earlier symphonies as the harmonies are filled in by the orchestral instruments. See under topic B for how Haydn uses horns.

In all the movements other than the first, Haydn makes extensive use of soloists within the orchestra (see the examples in the variations of the last movement above). He quite often did this in his early symphonies and this sort of writing makes the work more like a Sinfonia Concertante.

G) Harm. / tonality Recapitulation of first movement starts in minor as explained above under Topic B
H) Drama / progr. Dramatic undermining of the recapitulation as explained above under Topic B

Worksheet: Haydn 31 (audio is opening of first movement above)

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