Symphony No. 60 (Haydn)

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The Symphony No. 60 in C major, Hoboken I/60, was written by Joseph Haydn. It is sometimes given the nickname Il Distratto (The Distracted), or in German, Der Zerstreute.

Nickname[edit]

It was completed in or by 1775 (most likely November 1774). The symphony makes use of music Haydn wrote for a play, Le Distrait, by Jean-François Regnard, given a German revival in 1774 by Karl Wahr under the German title Der Zerstreute (Il Distratto is the title that appears on Haydn's incidental music, however). Symphony no. 60 contains the overture, four entr'actes and finale from the music composed for the five-act play.[1]

Movements[edit]

The symphony is scored for two oboes, two horns, two optional trumpets, timpani, and strings.

  1. Adagio, 2/4 - Allegro di molto, 3/4
  2. Andante, 2/4 in G major
  3. Menuetto - Trio, 3/4 (Trio in C minor)
  4. Presto, 2/4 in C minor and major
  5. Adagio (di Lamentatione), 2/4 in F major
  6. Finale: Prestissimo, 2/4

The slow introduction to the first movement overture opens with a fanfare similar to the one that opens the 50th symphony which also served an overture to a stage work.[2] The ensuing Allegro is in sonata form. The second theme has a section that is notably marked perdendosi ("dying away") which Sisman associates with the absent-mindedness of the main character of the play.[1] In the development section, the falling arpeggio motif that opens the Farewell Symphony is quoted and repeated at different pitch levels.[2]

The slow movement features an alternation between a lyrical string motif and an oboe/horn fanfare. From a theatrical standpoint, this suggests a dialogue between two characters in the play—a well-bred young lady and a carousing soldier[1]—but Haydn had also juxtaposed these types of themes in the slow movements of his 28th and 65th symphonies.[3] The development section contains a parody of a French folk dance.[1]

The courtly and pompous minuet is contrasted by the reappearance of the absent-minded main character in the trio,[1] which features an exotically wandering, rising and falling motif over a bagpipe-like drone.

The fifth movement (adagio) briefly introduces timpani and trumpets, not to be found again in a Haydn symphonic slow movement until Symphony No. 88.

The finale features one of Haydn's famous musical jokes: the energetic prestissimo opening grinds to a sudden halt following a spectacularly discordant orchestral flourish, as the violins discover that they seemingly "need" to retune their strings—which they noisily proceed to do for 10 to 15 seconds before they resume playing.

Critical commentaries[edit]

The conductor Kenneth Woods describes it as "the funniest and most modern work on [my] list, possibly the funniest and most modern symphony ever written. Haydn uses most of the 20th century "isms" in this piece—surrealism, absurdism, modernism, poly-stylism, and hops effortlessly between tightly integrated symphonic argument and rapid-fire cinematic jump-cutting. This is Haydn at his absolute boldest—he undermines every expectation, and re-examines every possible assumption about music."[4]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Sisman, Elaine R. (Summer 1990). "Haydn's Theater Symphonies". Journal of the American Musicological Society 43 (2): 293–298. doi:10.1525/jams.1990.43.2.03a00030. ISSN 0003-0139. JSTOR 831616. 
  2. ^ a b Brown, A. Peter, The Symphonic Repertoire (Volume 2). Indiana University Press (ISBN 025333487X), pp. 150-152 (2002).
  3. ^ Brown, A. Peter, The Symphonic Repertoire (Volume 2). Indiana University Press (ISBN 025333487X), pp. 101-103 (2002).
  4. ^ http://kennethwoods.net/blog1/2012/01/20/the-real-top-20-c-major-symphonies-of-all-time/

External links[edit]