Sinfonia concertante (Haydn)

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Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 105 in B flat major is also known as the Sinfonia concertante , as in this symphony the solo instruments oboe , bassoon , violin and cello face the orchestra as in an instrumental concert . Haydn composed the work in early 1792 during his first stay in England. The " Concertante " (Haydn's name on the autograph) is listed in the Hoboken directory under symphony number 105, although it was composed before Haydn's last symphony in chronological order (number 104 in the Hoboken directory).


Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809)

For general information on the London symphonies, in the context of which the Sinfonia concertante was created, cf. the Symphony no. 93 . After Haydn had great success in the concert series organized by Johann Peter Salomon in the 1791 concert season, the rival company, the “Professional Concerts” hired Ignaz Pleyel , Haydn's former pupil in 1792 , possibly with the ulterior motive of offering the audience a sensational competition between teacher and pupil . Pleyel arrived in London on December 23, 1791; Haydn dined with him on December 24th, and they went to the opera together on December 31st. At the end of February 1792, Pleyel performed a Sinfonia concertante for six solo instruments and orchestra as part of the “Professional Concerts” (the genre of the Sinfonia concertante was very popular in Paris, where Pleyel worked). Haydn's Sinfonia concertante is probably a kind of counterpart or answer to Pleyel's work.

Haydn wrote to Marianne von Genzinger on January 7, 1792:

“I am currently working for Salomons Concert, and I have to give myself all the possible effort, because our opponents have the professional gathering my student Pleyel from Strasbourg come to conduct their concerts. So there will be a bloody harmonic war between the master and schüller, people start talking about it in all the newspapers, but it seems to me that it will soon become an alliance because my credit is too tight. When he arrived, Pleyel was so humble to me that he recently won my love, we would share our fame in a moment and everyone would go home happy. "

The autograph was apparently completed under great time pressure. The “Concertante” was probably written between February 27th (performance of Pleyel's Concertante) and March 9th, 1792 (world premiere in London). The work was well received at the performance. The Morning Herald reported on March 12, 1792:

“The last performance in Solomon's Concerts deserves to be mentioned as one of the richest delights this season has offered so far. A new “Concertante” by Haydn combined all the excellence of music; it was thorough, lively, touching and original, and the performance was in keeping with the rank of the composition. On this occasion, Salomon in particular made every effort to do justice to the music of his friend Haydn. "

To the music

Instrumentation: flute , oboe , two horns , two trumpets , timpani , two violins , viola , cello , double bass . The solo instruments include: oboe, bassoon, violin, cello. There is documentary evidence that Haydn conducted his orchestral works at the London concerts initially from the harpsichord and from 1792 from the “ Piano Forte ”. In the sense of the performance practice customary at the time, this is an indication of the use of a keyboard instrument (i.e. harpsichord or fortepiano) as basso continuo (similar to the "London symphonies").

Performance time: approx. 20 to 25 minutes.

The soloist parts are distributed relatively evenly overall. In the final movement, the violin is more dominant in places. In contrast to other (solo) concerts or the earlier Concerto grosso , the orchestra and solo instrument group are no longer opposed to each other in a block-like manner.

“Especially in the first and second movements, Haydn demonstrates the changing sound combinations of the solo instruments. In the first movement, the solo parts develop out of the orchestral movement, while the second movement concentrates entirely on the soloist quartet, which is only sparingly accompanied by the orchestra. The last movement is all about the virtuoso brilliance of Solomon (...). "

With the terms of the sonata form used here, it should be noted that this scheme was designed in the first half of the 19th century (see there) and can therefore only be transferred to a work composed in 1792 with restrictions. The description and structure of the sentences given here is to be understood as a suggestion. Depending on the point of view, other delimitations and interpretations are also possible.

First movement: Allegro

B flat major, 4/4 time, 273 bars

Beginning of Allegro, flute and violin

Haydn opens the symphony piano (unusual for a concert piece that has no attention-grabbing introduction) with the strings introducing the four-bar first theme with a flute. It consists of a triad-based “question motif” and a closing phrase with suggestions. Abruptly in bar 5 the whole orchestra breaks in as a forte block with a stepping, triple tapping tone repeater. The second theme (bars 18 ff.) Is again brought up piano by the strings (thus little contrast to the first theme), but with the participation of bassoon and oboe (here still within the tutti). The topic consists of a “question” repeated twice and an answer, both structurally derived from the first topic. From bar 26, the solo instrument group (contrary to the usual “scheme” at concerts, in which the orchestra initially only presents the material of the movement) begins with the theme (the solo cello accompanies in staccato ). In the final group (bars 34 ff., Forte and entire orchestra) the tone repetition motif appears as a variant, followed by a “cuckoo motif” (with thirds in staccato, also with a short “echo” of the solo instrument group) and a running motif (run downwards with an accent on the second cycle time). The “orchestral exposition” ends in bar 48 in B flat major.

The “solo instrument exposition” is structurally similar to the previous section, whereby the group of solo instruments comes to the fore and the material varies, adorns it with brilliant virtuosity and continues to develop. The solo instruments are only accompanied by the strings or even play alone. The first theme with numerous decorations is followed by the passage of the second theme (bar 91 ff.), A melancholy interruption (general pause, harmonic distant D flat major, bar 101 f.) And the varied final group (bar 113 ff., With cuckoo and running motif) as a forte block of the whole orchestra. The “solo instrument exposition” ends in bar 126 in the dominant F major.

In the following section (bars 127–162) the solo instruments take up the thematic material and enrich it - accompanied by the strings - in free spinning through chromatics (e.g. from bar 138), minor cloudings and changes in harmony (e.g. begins the Section in bar 127 already in D-flat) (“implementation section”, thematic work, however, takes a back seat to virtuoso embellishments). The section ends in D major as a general pause. A short (to be improvised) cadenza on the solo violin leads back to the recapitulation in B flat major.

The recapitulation (bars 163 ff.) Begins with the first theme (voice guidance: solo violin) and then moves on to the fort block with the tone repetition motif and the running figures. From bar 180, the solo instrument group begins with the passage corresponding to bar 70 ff. Of the exposition (the “cuckoo motif”, however, is switched on in bar 204 before the second theme). A forteblock with the staggered running figures analogous to bar 105 leads to the large, fully composed final cadenza for the solo instrument group (bars 220–263), in which various elements of the exposition are taken up, but also new sound aspects (e.g. slow-hesitant Passage with a lot of chromatics and changes from fast and slow). The (shortened) final group according to measure 33 ff. Ends the movement forte with tone repetition, cuckoo and walking motifs.

Second movement: Andante

F major, 6/8 time, 60 bars, trumpets and timpani are silent

Beginning of the Andante in bassoon and violin

The sentence is in two parts. The solo instrument group is usually only accompanied by the strings (often in pizzicato ), the wind instruments add splashes of color (mostly sustained accompanying notes), which creates a special, pastoral timbre. The themes / motifs are very singing.

The first theme is four bars. It is first played by the bassoon and violin, then taken up by the oboe and cello. From bar 8, the violin continues the theme's closing phrase in figurations. A dialogue between running figures and the topic head leads to the second topic (bar 15 ff., Dominant in C major), in which the vocal-leading cello dominates and which, with six bars, is more extensive than the first topic. The final group (bar 21 ff.) Contains a third motif with a suggestion, which in turn is interrupted by figurative runs. An extended crescendo passage with the head from the first theme leads over to the second section.

The second part begins with the first theme, now played forte and played by the whole orchestra. The section is a variant of the first.

"The whole movement looks like an enchanting pastoral idyll, and its almost chamber music atmosphere is only interrupted once for a few bars by an orchestral ritual."

Third movement: Allegro con spirito

B flat major, 2/4 time, 357 bars

Main theme of the Allegro con spirito, bars 35 to 43, violin

The movement is initially reminiscent of an opera scene: the whole orchestra begins suddenly forte and in unison with a stormy passage (suggesting the following main theme). The first violin "answers" as an adagio recitative , which, with its string accompaniment, is designed like a "recitativo accompagnato" (elaborated, orchestral recitative of the opera). The orchestra begins again forte, but is interrupted by a second recitative after five bars. Only now does the main theme of the sentence begin. It is first introduced by the first violin with string accompaniment, then repeated by the Tutti forte. The memorable theme is structured in eight bars and periodically . This is followed by a change of solo instrument group and tutti (bars 51 ff.). A tutti passage based on the main theme ends the first section (“orchestral exposition”) in the tonic in B flat major.

In the second section (bars 73–180, “solo instrument exposition”) the solo instrument group, accompanied only by the strings, dominates. Oboe, bassoon, violin and cello usually receive extensive, virtuoso-brilliant solo passages individually and one after the other, in which the headline of the theme can be heard from time to time. The tutti in the forte (bars 171 ff.) Ends the second section in the dominant F major like a final group.

The third section (bars 181–240, “development” or middle section) begins in a minor key and with a staggered entry of the theme head. After a cadenza for the solo violin, the solo instrument group and tutti play in dialogue-like alternation. A tremolo passage ending in A major leads to the use of the theme in the cello in B major (bar 208), the final turn of which then becomes a virtuoso run.

The fourth section (bar 241 ff., “Recapitulation”) is initially designed according to the beginning of the movement from the appearance of the main theme. Instead of the final group-like theme appearance in the tutti analogous to measure 66, however, another “recitativo accompagnato” begins. The coda-like, extended final group section delays the end of the movement with crescendo and tremolo passages (beginning in the harmonically unexpected G major, bar 317) and other short solo interludes.


  1. Koch writes about the use of the harpsichord as an orchestral and continuo instrument around 1802 (!) In his Musikalischen Lexicon , Frankfurt 1802 , under the heading “wing, clavicimbel” (pp. 586–588; please consider that at this time wing = harpsichord  !): “The other genres of this type of piano (i.e. keel instruments , author's note), namely the spinet and the clavicytherium , have been completely out of use; the grand piano (i.e. the harpsichord , author's note) is still used in most of the major orchestras, partly to support the singer with the recitative , partly and mainly to fill in harmony by means of the figured bass […] being strong penetrating sound makes it (ie the grand piano = harpsichord, author's note) very adept at filling the whole thing with full-voiced music; therefore he will probably compete in major opera houses and bey numerous occupation of votes the rank of very useful orchestral instrument until another instrument of equal strength, but more mildness or flexibility of the sound is invented which to lecture the basso well is sent. […] In clay pieces according to the taste of the time, especially with a weak cast of the voices […] for some time now one has started to swap the grand piano with the weaker, but softer fortepiano . "
  2. Even James Webster, one of the main proponents of the anti-harpsichord continuo thesis, takes the London symphonies from his idea that Haydn did not use a harpsichord (or other keyboard instrument, especially fortepiano) for continuo playing: “And, of course, the argument refers exclusively to pre-London symphonies and performances outside England. " (James Webster: On the Absence of Keyboard Continuo in Haydn's Symphonies. In: Early Music Volume 18, No. 4, 1990, pp. 599-608, here: p. 600). This is because the well-attested fact that Haydn conducted the symphonies from the harpsichord (or pianoforte) normally also meant continuo playing at this time (see quotation from Koch's Musicalisches Lexikon , 1802, in the previous footnote).

Individual evidence

  1. Ludwig Finscher: Joseph Haydn and his time . Laaber-Verlag, Laaber 2000, ISBN 3-921518-94-6 , p. 356.
  2. Information text on the Sinfonia concertante project Haydn107 of the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt
  3. Quoted in Finscher 2000, p. 356
  4. a b H. C. Robbins Landon : The Symphonies of Joseph Haydn. Universal Edition & Rocklife, London 1955, p. 556.
  5. Michael Steinberg: HAYDN: Sinfonia concertante in B-flat major, HI: 105. , accessed December 16, 2011.
  6. ^ Anthony van Hoboken: Joseph Haydn. Thematic-bibliographical catalog raisonné, Volume I. Schott-Verlag, Mainz 1957, p. 228
  7. ^ Max Hochkofler: Joseph Haydn, Symphonie Concertante Op. 84. Foreword to the Eulenburg pocket score edition. Edition Eulenburg No. 790. Ernst Eulenburg Ltd., London / Zurich (pocket score, no year, preface dated February 1940).
  8. ^ A b Walter Lessing: The symphonies of Joseph Haydn, in addition: all masses. A series of broadcasts on Südwestfunk Baden-Baden 1987-89, published by Südwestfunk Baden-Baden in 3 volumes. 3rd volume, Baden-Baden 1989, p. 119 ff.
  9. Oboe and bassoon partly also within the tutti passages.
  10. HC Robbins Landon: Joseph Haydn - his life in pictures and documents , Fritz Molden Verlag, Vienna et al., 1981, p. 123 f.
  11. Michael Walter: Sinfonia concertante (Hob. I: 105). In Armin Raab, Christine Siegert, Wolfram Steinbeck (eds.): The Haydn Lexicon. Laaber-Verlag, Laaber 2010, ISBN 978-3-89007-557-0 , p. 693.

Web links, notes

See also