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Symphony No. 12 (B. & H.), in B Flat

Joseph Haydn

1. Largo. Allegro.

2. Adagio.

3. Minuet.

4. Finale. Presto.

The Symphony in B flat, written in 1794, is No. 12 of the Breitkopf and Härtel edition. A short Largo opens with a hold on the keynote, followed by a phrase for wind instruments reflecting the sadness of the whole introduction.

The first movement, Allegro vivace, brings in the main theme --

[Music excerpt]

at once fortissimo by the whole orchestra, and reversing the order to repeat, appears as a piano phrase. This is followed by a lively figure for violins through sixteen measures, working up into a crescendo fortissimo that reaches its climax on a whole note on A in Unison, and with the grand pause following prepares the entrance of the second theme in A major, as follows:

[Music excerpt]

This, with several other shorter themes, furnishes the material for the working-up of the second part. The whole scheme is broader than usual. The rhythmic, harmonic, and dynamic changes form a picture of real life pulsating with vital force.

The Adagio in F major is comparatively short, and has Italian touches of elegance in the rich ornamentation with which the melody is embelished. In character it leaves the popular vein which Haydn's slow movements generally show, and leans more toward the elegiac and sentimental.

The Minuet, although its first part inclines toward the dance form, assumes a style of its own by the stubborn assertion of a group of three notes in repeat, leading to a hold, after which a playful treatment of the same motive brings us back to the original theme.

The Finale, in B flat, Presto, opens with the following gay song --

[Music excerpt]

which flows along without interruption, for even the occasional attempts at stubborness have an undercurrent of jollity. Syncopations, pianissimo staccatos, unexpected pauses, clashes of the full orchestra, sudden transitions of key, the playful use of parts a motive, etc., combine in making a picture of happiness and joyous life which is all the more extraordinary when we consider that Haydn wrote this work in sixty-second year.

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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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