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Symphony No. 11 (B. & H.), in G Major ("Military")

Joseph Haydn

1. Largo. Allegro.

2. Allegretto.

3. Minuet.

4. Finale. Presto.

The Symphony in G major -- No. 11 of the Breitkopf and Härtel edition -- was written in 1794. It opens with a slow movement of broad and even pathetic character, closing on the dominant chord with a hold. The first movement proper, Allegro, starts in the following theme, given out by the flutes and oboes:

[Music excerpt]

and is repeated in ever new instrumental combinations, leading into a play of questions and answers between wind and string instruments, which Haydn's successors have made use of so often. After the half-cadence, the second theme --

[Music excerpt]

enters piano. In spirit it is lively march, and although at its first appearance it is quite subdued, the staccato marks relieve any uncertainty as to its meaning. The working-up in the second part relies chiefly on this second theme; and when the double-basses take it up, it rises to its full importance. The greater length of the movement, its ingenious harmonic treatment, the stubborn character in the sforzando strokes after the second theme appears fortissimo, the crisp staccato scales in broken thirds in the violins, stamp this Allegro as one of the most important the master has left.

The Allegretto, in C major, which here takes the place of the usual Andante, has given to this symphony the name of "The Military" and is based on an old French romanza:

[Music excerpt]

In its treatment of interchanging instrumental groups, and in its quiet yet cheerful movement, it sounds like the last farewells of soldiers as they take leave of home. After several repeats, the trumpets sound the signal for falling into line, and with a few strong chords in the key of A flat, the march is resumed. The composer has made masterly use of the drums, cymbals, and triangle, in the various repeats of the simple theme, relying almost entirely on the tone-colors of the diffrent orchestral instruments and their combination for the maintaining of the interest in the simple march theme.

The Minuet, moderato, in its form comes nearer the dance minuet in graceful groups of violins figures than any we have considered; while the Trio is worked up in a more distinct character than usual, and with its dotted rhythm remains nearer the original dance than the legato Trios of former symphonies.

The last movement, Presto, is in Haydn's happiest vein. Its theme --

[Music excerpt]

is playful and charming, and the whole Finale, although not devoid of more forcible intermezzos, broken by unexpected pauses and elaborate treatment in harmonic changes, moves along in a happy and natural manner.

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See also:
Middle Ages Music
Renaissance Music
Baroque Era Music
Classical Era Music
Romantic Era Music
Nationalist Era Music
Turn of Century Music

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