Symphony No. 103 (Haydn)
The Symphony No. 103 in E-flat major (H. 1/103) is the eleventh of the twelve London Symphonies written by Joseph Haydn. This symphony is nicknamed The Drumroll after the long roll on the timpani with which it begins.
Composition and premiere
The symphony was the last but one of twelve that were composed for performance in England during Haydn's two journeys there (1791–1792, 1794–1795). Haydn's music was well known in England well before the composer traveled there, and members of the British musical public had long expressed the wish that Haydn would visit. The composer's reception in England was in fact very enthusiastic, and the English visits were one of the most fruitful and happy periods of the composer's life. Haydn composed the "Drumroll" Symphony while living in London during the winter of 1794–1795.
It was premiered on March 2, 1795 as part of a concert series called the "Opera Concerts" at the King's Theatre. The orchestra was unusually large for the time, consisting of about 60 players. The task of directing the work was divided between the concertmaster, the violinist Giovanni Battista Viotti, and Haydn, who sat at a fortepiano. The premiere was evidently a success, and The Morning Chronicle's reviewer wrote:
Another new Overture [i.e., symphony], by the fertile and enchanting Haydn, was performed; which, as usual, had continual strokes of genius, both in air and harmony. The Introduction excited deepest attention, the Allegro charmed, the Andante was encored, the Minuets, especially the trio, were playful and sweet, and the last movement was equal, if not superior to the preceding.
The Sun wrote:
HAYDN's new Overture was much applauded. It is a fine mixture of grandeur and fancy... the second movement was encored.
Haydn later performed the work in Vienna, and for this purpose made a small cut in the final movement, which is usually respected by conductors today.
The symphony takes about 30 minutes to perform.
The work is in standard four-movement form.
I. Adagio – Allegro con spirito
After the opening drum roll, the bass instruments play a somber opening theme:
H. C. Robbins Landon has remarked that at the start the theme is ambiguous between duple and triple time and between the keys of C minor and (what ultimately proves the case) E-flat major.
The sprightly 6/8 movement that follows this introduction is in sonata form, with a monothematic exposition. In a number of places, it restates the theme of the introduction in much faster tempo. Haydn restates part of the opening introduction in the coda, a formal procedure previously adopted by Mozart in his String Quintet K. 593 (1790). Beethoven was to do the same in his "Pathétique" piano sonata, published two years after the "Drumroll" Symphony in 1797.
II. Andante più tosto allegretto
In double variation form, with alternating themes in C minor and C major plus coda. The double variations had been a favorite musical form of the composer for about 20 years. Along with the Piano Trio H. XV:23 from the same year, this was the last set he wrote. The themes are said to have been developed by Haydn from Croatian folk songs he knew – for discussion, see Haydn and folk music. Some different features in this movement include a long violin solo, as well as the lack of clarinets.
The minuet is in the home key of E flat major. Charles Rosen, in The Classical Style, chose this minuet to illustrate the point that Classical-era minuets often have very strong first beats, in contrast to the more flowing rhythm of the Baroque minuet.
IV. Finale: Allegro con spirito
The horn call is followed by a pause, then repeated as accompaniment to the main theme, and indeed echoed throughout the movement.
Like the themes of the second movement, the opening melody was claimed by Franjo Kuhač to be taken by Haydn from Croatian folk song, in this case a tune called "Divojčica potok gazi" ("A little girl treads on a brook").
Robbins Landon notes that this finale one of the longest in the London Symphonies. He calls it "one of the great tours-de-force, formally speaking, of Haydn's career: the creation of a long movement on a single theme in which our interest never flags; on the contrary, it is a Finale of unusual tension and strength."
Rather unusually for Haydn, he altered the fourth movement after it was completed, removing 13 bars fairly close to the end. The original autograph score preserves this music; it modulates to the key of C-flat and includes a two-measure rest; with the dynamic markings p and pp. Robbins Landon suggests that Haydn removed the passage because it "would hold up the course of the movement." The symphony is occasionally performed with the deleted passage included; e.g. in recorded versions by Antal Doráti and Frans Brüggen.
- Quoted from Robbins Landon (1976, 295)
- Robbins Landon (1976, 296)
- Deathridge J., Geck M. and Voss E. (1986). Wagner Werk-Verzeichnis (WWV): Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke Richard Wagners und ihrer Quellen ("Catalogue of Wagner's Works: Catalogue of Musical Compositions by Richard Wagner and Their Sources"). Mainz, London, & New York: Schott Musik International. pp. 76 – 77
- Among them: Schroeder 1985, 71
- Robbins Landon 1976, 595
- Schroeder 1985, 71
- Rosen, Charles. "The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven". p. 90. New York: Norton, 1997.
- Robbins Landon (1976:602); for the tune see Robbins Landon or online.
- Robbins Landon (1976:602–603)
- Robbins Landon (1976:602)
- The deleted passage is printed in Robbins Landon (1976:603–604).
- Robbins Landon (1976:602)
- Robbins Landon, H. C. (1976) Haydn: Chronicle and Works, Indiana University Press, Bloomington.
- Rosen, Charles (1971, 2nd ed. 1997) The Classical Style. New York: Norton.
- Schroeder, David P. (1985) "Audience Reception and Haydn's London Symphonies," International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 57–72.
- Symphony No. 103: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Program notes written by James M. Keller for the San Francisco Symphony
- Symphony No. 103 is available in PDF format created from MuseData.