Joseph Haydn: Symphony No.5


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

The Fifth Symphony was composed between 1760-62 whilst Haydn was employed by Count Morzin. Set in A major, Haydn’s Fifth uses the four-movement structure for this symphony.


Movement I – Adagio ma non troppo

The delicate opening movement features the horns, whose part is very high in places, making this symphony one of the most challenging for the instrument. The lyrical melody is led by the upper strings and embellished by the woodwind. Although lyrical, the style of the movement is stately. Set in sonata form, after the exposition the development section sees the highly-pitched horns return. As the main theme is revisited in the recapitulation the orchestra head towards the poignant conclusion. 


Movement II – Allegro

Set in 3/4 time, the playful second movement is marked ‘Allegro’. Much more energetic than the opening movement, the second uses fast string work and colourful woodwind writing to create orchestral swells in the music. The horns play another important part in this movement as they offer a unique timbre. The horns also have a solo passage with the woodwind as a short interlude to the main string theme. After a short reiteration of the playful theme, the second movement comes to a close.


Movement III – Minuet & Trio

The stately Minuet and Trio movement once again shines a light on the horns. After short bursts of orchestral sound, the stately theme is picked up by the strings. The horns and upper woodwind embellish this melody with short passages of music. The trio is woodwind-heavy as the delicate theme is developed. Haydn’s intricate wind writing in this movement is one of the highlights of the symphony, with the delicate nuances not going unnoticed by many. 


Movement IV – Presto

The quick-paced finale starts with a rush of strings buzzing with excitement. Thrilling unison passages played by the strings creates an exciting atmosphere before the violins speed off with the melody. The quick and dramatic changes in dynamic add to the drama of the finale as very quiet sections quickly dim the loud and bombastic sections. The shortest of all four movements, the symphony concludes on a perfect resolution. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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1 Comment

BEDallagnese · 3rd March 2021 at 2:57 pm

Very interesting! Thank you for sharing this beautiful music!

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