Symphony No. 81 (Haydn)

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Portrait of Haydn by Thomas Hardy.

Symphony No. 81 in G major (Hoboken I/81) is a symphony by Joseph Haydn composed in 1784 as part of a trio of symphonies that also included symphonies 79 and 80.These three symphonies were specially written for performance in March 1785.[1]


The symphony is scored for flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns and strings.

  1. Vivace
  2. Andante, 6
  3. Menuetto and trio: Allegretto, 3
  4. Finale: Allegro ma non troppo, 2

In the first and third movements, Haydn explores "ambiguities of tonality ... which eventually reach their peak of subtlety" of the first movement of Symphony No. 94.[2] The first movement begins "with an unusual and exciting pedal point ... [and] uses a subsidiary subject that appears like a cordial greeting to the newly won friend Mozart."[3] The pedals and dissonances point to Mozart's K. 465.[4]

The second movement is a siciliano theme with three variations.[5] The variations are for the most part strophic and straightforward with the exception of a minor-key interlude in the center of the movement between the first and second variations. The final variation contains the fullest orchestration with pizzicato accompaniment and serves to recapitulate the movement.[6]


  1. ^ H. C. Robbins Landon, Haydn: Chronicle and Works, 5 vols, (Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1976– ) v. 2: "Haydn at Eszterhaza, 1766–1790",[page needed].
  2. ^ Hughes (1970) p. 185.
  3. ^ Geiringer (1963) p. 322.
  4. ^ Heartz (2009) p. 355.
  5. ^ Hughes (1970) p. 186.
  6. ^ A. Peter Brown, The Symphonic Repertoire (Volume 2) (Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 2001) (ISBN 025333487X), pp. 207–208.


  • Geiringer, Karl (1963). Haydn: A Creative Life in Music. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  • Heartz, Daniel (2009). Mozart, Haydn and Early Beethoven: 1781–1802. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.
  • Hughes (1970).[full citation needed]
  • Hugues, Rosemary (1974). Haydn.London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.