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Encyclopedia > Symphony No. 45 (Haydn)

Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor, known as the "Farewell" Symphony (in German: Abschieds-Symphonie), was composed by Joseph Haydn in 1772. It is particularly noteworthy that the symphony is written in a minor key, which would have been highly unconventional for the time -- most symphonies and, in fact, most music being composed in a major key. The symphony is one of Haydn's better-known works from this period. Franz Joseph Haydn[1] (March 31 or April 1, 1732 – May 31, 1809) was one of the most prominent composers of the Classical period, called the Father of the Symphony and Father of the String Quartet. A life-long resident of Austria, Haydn spent most of his career as a...

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The piece is written for two oboes, a bassoon, two horns, and strings (violins divided into two, violas, cellos and double basses). As is usual for symphonies, it is in four movements. The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. ... A Fox Products bassoon. ... The horn is a brass instrument that consists of tubing wrapped into a coiled form. ... A string instrument (or stringed instrument) is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... The viola (in French, alto; in German Bratsche) is a string instrument played with a bow which serves as the middle voice of the violin family, between the upper lines played by the violin and the lower lines played by the cello and double bass. ... The violoncello, almost always abbreviated to cello, or cello (the c is pronounced as the ch in cheese), is a stringed instrument and a member of the violin family. ... Side and front views of a modern double bass with a French bow. ... A symphony is an extended piece of music for orchestra, especially one in the form of a sonata. ...


Background

It was written for Haydn's patron, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, while he, Haydn and the court orchestra were at the Prince's summer palace in Eszterhaza. The stay there had been longer than expected, and most of the musicians had been forced to leave their wives back at home in Eisenstadt, so in the last movement of the symphony, Haydn subtly hinted to his patron that perhaps he might like to allow the musicians to return home: during the final adagio each musician stops playing, snuffs out the candle on his music stand, and leaves in turn, so that at the end, there are just two muted violins left (played by Haydn himself and the concertmaster, Alois Luigi Tomasini). Esterházy apparently got the message: the court returned to Eisenstadt the day following the performance. Prince Nikolaus Esterházy was a Hungarian prince who lived during the 18th century. ... FertÅ‘d (former Esterháza and Süttör unified in 1950) is a city in Hungary near the Austria region and it bounds to GyÅ‘r-Moson-Sopron province. ... Eisenstadt (Hungarian Kismarton, Croatian Željezno) is a city in Austria, the state capital of Burgenland. ... In musical terminology, tempo (Italian for time) is the speed or pace of a given piece. ... A mute is a device which alters the timbre and/or reduces the volume of a musical instrument. ...


Structure

The first movement of the work is a turbulent affair in F-sharp minor, an extremely unusual key to use at the time of the work. It opens in a manner typical of Haydn's Sturm und Drang period, with descending minor arpeggios in the first violins against syncopated notes in the second violins and held chords in the winds. The movement can be explained structurally in terms of sonata form, but it departs from the standard model in a number of ways (just before the recapitulation, for example, new material is introduced, which might have been used as the second subject in the exposition in a more conventional work). Sturm und Drang (literally: storm and stress) was a Germany literary movement that developed during the latter half of the 18th century. ... Various arpeggi as seen on a staff In music, an arpeggio (plural, arpeggi) is a spread chord played top-to-bottom or vice versa in sheet music, or rather the sounding of the tones of a chord in rapid succession rather than simultaneously. ... In music, syncopation is the stressing of a normally unstressed beat in a bar or the failure to sound a tone on an accented beat. ... Sonata form is a musical form that has been used widely since the early Classical period. ...


The second, slow, movement in A major is also in sonata form. It begins with a relaxed melody played by muted violins, featuring a repeated "hiccuping" motif. The mood gradually becomes more somber and meditative with an alternation between major and minor modes, resembling many similar passages in the later work of Schubert. There follows a series of dissonant suspensions carried across the bar line, which are extended to extraordinary lengths by Haydn when the same material appears in the recapitulation. James Webster (see reference below) hears this music as programmatic, expressing the yearning for home. A major is a major scale based on A, consisting of the pitches A, B, C♯, D, E, F♯, G♯, and A. Its key signature consists of three sharps. ... Franz Peter Schubert (January 31, 1797 – November 19, 1828) was an Austrian composer considered to be both the last master of the Viennese Classical school and one of the earliest proponents of musical Romanticism. ... Program music is music intended to evoke extra-musical ideas, images in the mind of the listener by musically representing a scene, image or mood [1]. By contrast, absolute music stands for itself and is intended to be appreciated without any particular reference to the outside world. ...


The following minuet is in the key of F-sharp major; its main peculiarity is that the final cadence of each section is made very weak (falling on the third beat), creating a sense of incompleteness. F# major is a major scale based on F#, consisting of the pitches F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D#, E# (enharmonic to F natural) and F#. Its key signature consists of six sharps. ...


The last movement begins as a characteristic Haydn finale in fast tempo, written in sonata form in the home key of F-sharp minor. The rhythmic intensity is increased at one point through the use of barriolage in the first violin part. The music eventually reaches the end of the recapitulation in a passage that sounds very much as if it were the end of the symphony, but suddenly breaks off in a dominant cadence. The Baroque musical technique known as bariolage involves quick alternation between a static note and changing notes, that form a melody either above or below the static note. ... Sonata form is a musical form that has been used widely since the early Classical period. ...


What follows is essentially a second slow movement, which is extremely unusual in Classical symphonies and probably sounded very surprising to the Prince. This is written in 3/8 time and modulates from A major to F-sharp major, during which time the musicians take their leave. The ending is a kind of deliberate anticlimax and is usually performed as a very soft pianissimo. The time signature (also known as meter signature) is a notational device used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each bar and what note value constitutes one beat. ...


This final adagio includes a bit of stage business that may not be obvious to a listener hearing a recorded performance: several of the musicians are given little solos to play just before departing. The order of departure is: first oboe and second horn (solos), bassoon (no solo), second oboe and first horn (solos), double bass (solo), cello (no solo), orchestral violins (solos; first chair players silent), viola (no solo). The first chair violinists remain to complete the work. In musical terminology, tempo (Italian for time) is the speed or pace of a given piece. ...


A typical performance of the Farewell Symphony lasts around twenty-five minutes.


Further reading

  • James Webster, Haydn's "Farewell" Symphony and the Idea of Classical Style (Cambridge University Press, 1991, ISBN 0-521-38520-2) includes an extensive analysis of the work.

 
 

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