Joseph Haydn: Symphony No.18


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

It still remains quite unsure as to when No.18 was composed. There is are scholars who believe it was between 1757-1756, but this has never been completely verified.Similarly to the previous symphony, No.18 is also in the three movement structure.


Movement I

The opening movement is set as a trio sonata and is unusual as the whole movement is marked at the ‘Andante moderato’ tempo. There are two main themes heard throughout which are independent of the bassline. This open style makes this early symphony stand out from some of the others. The pulsating tutti sections add intensity to the music, whilst still ensuring a light texture throughout. 


Movement II 

The bright second movement bursts into action from the first note. The upper strings take the melodic lead, with the horns and woodwind adding decoration to the accompaniment. There is a sense of urgency throughout this movement, with the lower strings being proactive in their repeated accompanying motifs. The ensemble unit for the final few chords of the movement. 


Movement III

Slightly more held back than the second movement, the finale opens with a heavy minuet theme. The central trio section is warm in timbre, with the strings taking the lead once again. The shift back to the minuet is sudden, and with one more reprise of the main theme, the symphony concludes with a final ensemble chord.


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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