Symphony No. 23 (Haydn)

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Joseph Haydn wrote Symphony No. 23 in G major, Hoboken I/23, in 1764.[1]

The work is scored for 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 horns, and strings with continuo.[2] The symphony is in four movements:

  1. Allegro, 3
  2. Andante in C major, 2
  3. Menuetto e Trio (Trio in C major), 3
  4. Presto assai, 6

The slow movement is scored for strings only and contains numerous five-note thirty-second-note slides in the lower strings.[3]

In the Minuet, Haydn writes the movement as a canon between the higher voices (violins and oboes) and lower voices (violas and cellos) at an interval of a single bar. Haydn had written such a canon in the minuet of his third symphony and similar canons would be later be written into G major minuets by Michael Haydn and Mozart.[4] Haydn himself would later develop this technique into the "Canones in Diapason" of the minuet of his Trauer Symphony and the "Witches Minuet" of his D minor string quartet from Op. 76.

The last movement is notable for fading away unexpectedly at the end, first pianissimo in the string along and then after a grand pause ending with a single pizzicato note. The second half is marked for repeat, but the conductor may choose "whether to omit the da capo in order not to risk the surprise ending being anticipated."[5] H. C. Robbins Landon believes this may be "the first positive example of Haydn's famous sense of humour."[6]


  1. ^ Antony Hodgson, The Music of Joseph Haydn: The Symphonies. London: The Tantivy Press (1976): 202. The chart places "23" in boldface in the year 1764, indicating that there is also a surviving autograph score.
  2. ^ H. C. Robbins Landon, The Symphonies of Joseph Haydn. London: Universal Edition & Rockliff (1955): 651. "2 ob., 2 cor., str. [ fag., cemb. ]."
  3. ^ Brown, A. Peter, The Symphonic Repertoire (Volume 2). Indiana University Press (ISBN 025333487X), pp. 91-93 (2002).
  4. ^ HC Robbins Landon, Haydn: Chronicle and Works, 5 vols, (Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1976-) v. 1, Haydn: the Early Years, 1732-1765
  5. ^ (Hodgson, 1976): 63
  6. ^ (Landon, 1955): 250