Londoner Sinfonien, 3. Folge
Herausgeber: Horst Walter; Reihe I, Band 17; G. Henle Verlag München
Hob.I:100 Symphony in G Major Military Symphony
Written in 1794 during his second stay in London (1794/95), the Military Symphony was one of his greatest London achievements from beginning on, if not one of Joseph Haydn’s most popular compositions ever. It takes its name from the instrumentation (big kettle drums, cymbals, triangle) Haydn intends for the second and fourth movement and is one of the most prominent artistic documents of the fact that European music more or less owes the Turkish Wars for its percussion instruments, which are attributed to the music of the Janissaries (the Turkish military elite). The popularity which the Military Symphony continually enjoyed is double-edged, for the effect on which it is based is really a composed shock. The entire symphony was written “around” the second movement, which already existed in an earlier version: it originates, namely, from the third of the Five Concertos for Two “Lire organizzate” (Hob. VIIH:1-5) which Haydn composed in 1786 for King Ferdinand IV of Naples, where it is called Romance. (The lire organizzate, which is an “organised” hurdy-gurdy including pipes and bellows, is an unusual instrument originating from the Middle Ages, the strings of which are passed over a rosined wheel). But at the end of this movement Haydn added something utterly surprising: he sounds a military signal in the trumpet which is followed by the full entry of “military music” in fortissimo. Haydn – a Shostakovich of the 18th century: with a drastic force unparalleled in the music of the Viennese Classic the violence of war befalling a peaceful idyll is reproduced here in the medium of music. Haydn provided no warning of it to his listeners: the first movement is merry and light, almost cheery. (It has often been said the secondary theme of the first movement is a predecessor to the Radetzky March). With the remaining movements Haydn likely found a popular key which hit the nerve of the time: with the six-eight time of the final movement’s principal theme we have the interesting case of Haydn’s symphonic theme becoming English folk melody, as collections of country dances from the beginning of the 19th century prove. But when the military music with all its cacophony returns in the fourth movement, it has lost its threatening image and enhances the effect of the final close. Haydn and war: Haydn uses the instrumentation of the Turkish Janissaries, but it is no longer the Ottoman threat from the beginning of the 18th century on, rather a new aggressor on which Haydn’s military musical trick must be drawn in historical terms: that Haydn specifically uses a concerto of lyres for the Neapolitan King becomes nothing short of an historical symbol: Ferdinand IV of Naples is a brother of Louis XVI of France; his wife Caroline is a daughter of Maria Theresia and sister to Marie Antoinette, who lost her life under the guillotine in the French Revolution. In the contrast between the idyllic Romanceand the military music in the second movement of the Military Symphony Haydn musically captured nothing less than the upheavals in Central European at the end of the 18th century: the end of the Ancien Régime.
Analysis of the movements
Due to the unclear time of origin of most of Haydn’s symphonies - and unlike his 13 Italian operas, where we really know the exact dates of premieres and performances - detailed and correct name lists of the orchestral musicians cannot be given. As a rough outline, his symphony works can be divided into three temporal blocks. In the first block, in the service of Count Morzin (1757-1761), in the second block, the one at the court of the Esterházys (1761-1790 but with the last symphony for the Esterház audience in 1781) and the third block, the one after Esterház (1782-1795), i.e. in Paris and London. Just for this middle block at the court of the Esterházys 1761-1781 (the last composed symphony for the Esterház audience) respectively 1790, at the end of his service at the court of Esterház we can choose Haydn’s most important musicians and “long-serving companions” and thereby extract an "all-time - all-stars orchestra".
33 CDs, aufgenommen 1970 bis 1974, herausgegeben 1996 Decca (Universal)