Symphony No. 101 (Haydn)

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The Symphony No. 101 in D major (Hoboken 1/101) is the ninth of the twelve so-called London Symphonies written by Joseph Haydn. It is popularly known as The Clock because of the "ticking" rhythm throughout the second movement.

Composition, premiere, and reception[edit]

Haydn completed the symphony in 1793 or 1794. He wrote it for the second of his two visits to London (1791–2, 1794–5).

The work was premiered on 3 March 1794, in the Hanover Square Rooms, as part of a concert series featuring Haydn's work organized by his colleague and friend Johann Peter Salomon; a second performance took place a week later.[1]

As was generally true for the London symphonies, the response of the audience was very enthusiastic. The Morning Chronicle reported:

As usual the most delicious part of the entertainment was a new grand Overture [that is, symphony] by HAYDN; the inexhaustible, the wonderful, the sublime HAYDN! The first two movements were encored; and the character that pervaded the whole composition was heartfelt joy. Every new Overture he writes, we fear, till it is heard, he can only repeat himself; and we are every time mistaken.[2]

The work has always been popular and continues to appear frequently on concert programs and in recordings.

The music[edit]

It is scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani and strings.

The work is in standard four-movement form, as follows:

  1. Adagio, 3/4 (D minor) – Presto, 6/8 (D Major)
  2. Andante, 2/4 (G Major)
  3. Menuetto. Allegretto, 3/4 (D Major)
  4. Finale. Vivace, cut time (D Major)

The opening movement starts with a minor introduction consisting of 23 measures. A rising scale motif opens the Adagio, similar to the opening of the main theme of the Presto, and connects the Adagio to the main movement. The main theme of the Presto is meant to catch attention — the rising scale motif begins and ends on the dominant, and two broken chords follow — the tonic and the second degree minor, and ends on the tonic. This phrase also consists of 10 bars, broken into two parts of an odd 1+4 bar distribution. After the main theme, this phrase returns and starts the modulation by the usage of the A diminished chord, leading to E minor, which finally leads to E Major, the dominant of A Major. The secondary theme, although more subtle than the primary theme, is very close to it, which makes this a monothematic exposition. A triumphant codetta concludes the exposition. The development begins with the secondary theme motif reoccurring in different instruments in counterpoint, and transitions into the different motifs of the main theme, also playing contrapuntally. The development turns toward conclusion with the secondary theme once more, and ends with a long falling scale. The recapitulation is straightforward, and the triumphant coda finishes this grand movement.

The finale of the work is an amazing monothematic Rondo-Sonata. This means that the main theme and the secondary theme are similar, or in this case, almost identical, and the main theme is played every time a theme ends. Haydn vastly changes the main theme with each occurrence — something that is not done in rondo works. Even the bridges in between themes are similar to the main theme.



Performed by the Amigos do JPC with Pedro Carlos Silva (piano)

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See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robbins Landon 1976, 240–242
  2. ^ Robbins Landon 1976, 241


  • Robbins Landon, H. C. (1976) Haydn: Chronicle and Works, Volume IV. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

External links[edit]