Symphony No. 79 (Haydn)

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Portrait of Haydn by Thomas Hardy.

The Symphony No. 79 in F major, Hoboken 1/79, is a symphony by Joseph Haydn. It was composed in 1784. The 79th Symphony is characterized by a strong and joyful opening theme as well as varied rhythms throughout all four movements, especially in the minuet. The wind section alternated throughout the symphony either doubling the string section, enriching the tempo and solos void of virtuosity. Of note are long rests which were uncommon in early classical symphonies.

Symphonies No. 79–81[edit]

Symphony No. 79 was composed as part of a trio of symphonies that also included symphonies 80 and 81.[1] Unlike the previous three that were composed for London or the next six that were composed for Paris, it is not known for what occasion these three works were composed. For whatever purpose they were written, the three symphonies have neither the Sturm und Drang of prior symphonies nor the bold introduction and long first movement of the preceding and proceeding symphonies. Instead, Haydn experiments openly and widely with rhythms, pauses, tutti, minimal polyphony, occasional dissonance, theme and variations and dance like structures (one thinks of Beethoven's 7th symphony in terms of combined innovation, playfulness and daring). All three symphonies share the same structure of movements and for the most part have similar chord structures at least in the first movements of each symphony.


The symphony is scored for flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns and strings. There are four movements:

  1. Allegro con spirito
  2. Adagio cantabile, 3
    — un poco allegro, 2
  3. Menuetto & Trio: Allegretto, 3
  4. Finale: Vivace

The second half of the slow second movement is not slow at all and has a tempo more typical of a finale. The two halves of the second movement do not resemble one another neither in rhythm nor themes. Their only common thread is that they are written in the same key.[citation needed]

Much of the minuet is built on "4 + 2" six-bar phrases where the final two bars serve as a partial echo of the first four. The trio is based on a theme that is strikingly similar to the rondo finale to Mozart's first horn concerto, K. 412/386b, written in 1791, although it is unlikely that Mozart knew the earlier work.[2]

The finale is a straightforward rondo with two episodes. The first episode has a gypsy flavor.[2]


  1. ^ HC Robbins Landon, Haydn: Chronicle and Works, 5 vols, (Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1976-) v. 2, Haydn at Eszterhaza, 1766-1790
  2. ^ a b Brown, A. Peter, The Symphonic Repertoire (Volume 2). Indiana University Press (ISBN 025333487X), pp. 202–203 (2002).