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Creation Date: Mai-Sept. 1765· Instrumentation: Fl 2 Ob Fg 4 Hr – Vl. princ. Vc. solo Str · Duration: 32’ · Created as Symphony #37.
Symphony No. 31 in D major ('Hornsignal')
This symphony, too, was written in 1765 and again, because it contains a flute part, before 13 September. It also has parts for four horns (not the normal two), as well as the routine oboes and strings. During two periods in the early to mid 1760s the Esterházy court employed four specialist horn players: from August 1763 to December 1763, when Haydn wrote two symphonies with four horn parts (Nos 13 and 72), and from May 1765 to February 1766. Symphony No.31, therefore, must have been written between May and September 1765. It is a splendidly ostentatious work, displaying the prowess of the horn players to maximum effect in all four movements, whether playing as a quartet or in complementary pairs. The thematic material of the first movement draws not on hunting calls (as in the famous chorus in Haydn's oratorio The Seasons), but on military fanfares and posthorn signals, giving rise in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to several nicknames of which 'Hornsignal' has remained in common use.
As well as the horn players, other members of the orchestra are given opportunities to shine in what might well be termed, rather ana-chronistically, a concerto for orchestra. The display is at its most systematic in the Finale, a set of seven variations featuring in turn the following instruments and players: oboes (the Kapfer brothers), cello (Weigl, for whom Haydn had written his C major concerto), flute (the hapless Sigl). four horns (Messrs Franz, Steinmüller, Dietzl and Stamitz) solo violin (probably Haydn himself, perhaps Tomasini), tutti and, finally, double bass (Schwenda, for whom Haydn had written a concerto, now lost). The symphony ends with a Presto coda, culminating in the return of the hornsignal from the first movement.
I. Allegro
II. Adagio
III. Menuetto e Trio
IV. Moderato molto
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Joseph Haydn
The Symphonies

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33 CDs, aufgenommen 1970 bis 1974, herausgegeben 1996 Decca (Universal)

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10 doppel- und triple-CDs
aufgenommen und herausgegeben 1990 bis 2000
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