Joseph Haydn: Symphony No.3


Often known as the ‘Father of the Symphony’, Joseph Haydn’s legacy as a symphonist stays strong today. Haydn composed 104 symphonies over the course of his long and fruitful life, and we at Classicalexburns want to help you discover the stories and music behind all of them. In numerical order we will cover each symphony in the new #Haydn104 project, so look out for new ones by checking the ‘Projects’ page on our website, or by engaging with us on social media. 


The Music

Composed between 1760-1762, Joseph Hadyn’s Third Symphony is set in the key of G major. The Third is remembered for being one of the earliest symphonies to use the four movement symphony structure rather than the three. 


Movement I – Allegro

The energetic ‘Allegro’ opens the symphony in a scintillating style. As the lower strings and harpsichord play quick accompaniments, the upper strings play a delicate lyrical melody on top. The shrill woodwind joins in and the rich textures begin to solidify this theme. The high-energy of the music keeps the drive of the tempo moving forward, meaning that we end up hearing a lot of material just in one movement. Haydn’s use of call and response between the woodwind and strings is effective during the central section of the movement, as the playful exchanges develop the theme further. After a rousing reprise of the opening material, the first movement concludes triumphantly. 


Movement II – Andante moderato

Now moved into G minor, the slow movement does not feature the woodwind at all. After the slightly mysterious opening, the upper strings lead on the lyrical theme. There is a strange atmosphere in this movement, which Haydn accentuates by using off-beats and syncopated rhythms. As the theme is developed, the quiet dynamic pushes it’s limit by playing ever so quietly. The shimmer of the harpsichord in the background keeps the movement grounded before it concludes as it began – quietly. 


Movement III – Minuet and Trio

The stately minuet re-introduces the woodwind back into the ensemble as the bouncy melody creates a jovial atmosphere. Throughout this movement Haydn focuses on the canon created between the higher and lower voices of the orchestra. The lyrical trio takes on a similar character to that of the minuet, although the trio does highlight the woodwind and horns a lot more. This quasi-divertimento trio was one of the first of its kind, which really saw Haydn pushing the boundaries of his orchestras. 


Movement IV – Finale: Allegro

The fugal finale starts quietly with a quick melody back in the home key of G major. The call and response between the orchestra highlight Haydn’s virtuosic melodies as well as showcasing his handling of complex textures. The excitement of the fugue leads into the fiery coda which reprises the opening material before the thrilling conclusion. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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