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Haydn: Surprise, 1st movement

Form scheme
1st movement
The "Surprise Symphony", one of the 12 London symphonies, belongs to the most ingenious pieces of music Haydn wrote during his stay in London.

bars 1-4
Like in almost all London symphonies - No.95 in C minor is an exception - the 1st movement is introduced by a slow passage. A two-bar motif in the woodwinds forms the opening, a further motif in the strings is on a lower pitch. As regards pitch and instrumentation, the 2 motifs form a question-answer game, a musical dialogue between woodwinds and strings.

bars 5-7
At the repetition of the theme flutes are added, which stresses the difference in pitch between the first motif and that in the strings.

bars 8-17
The second part of the introduction is characterised by chromatically ascending eighth notes in the violins. A countersubject in the bass strings enriches the musical process, which closes on a dominant seventh chord.

bars 18-32
The transition from the introduction to the main part, from the dominant to the tonic, from 3/4 time to 6/8 time is interesting because the main theme reaches G major only at the very end. The main theme is presented in piano in the 1st violin, the full orchestra sets in only with the continuation of the theme.

The rapid movement of the 16th slows down. The D-major triad is long drawn-out, instruments are left out, the 1st violin plays solo, 2 tones of the melody are left over.

After an interval the main theme follows, enriched by an oboe countersubject. Before the reappearance of the main theme a bridge is formed from triad fragmentations.

This is followed by the main theme and the oboe countersubject. The unfolding of the theme leads on to D major, the key of the secondary theme.

bars 67-80
The secondary theme is introduced by a very simple cadenza in 6/8 time. The change tonic - dominant is achieved from bar to bar. On this rhythmic-harmonic basis he develops the secondary theme, which grows from the introductory rhythm but whose musical basis is just a sequence of scales.

The theme of the closing group is presented by the 1st violins with an upbeat and consists of 7 bars. A two-bar motif which is played twice is closed by a brief cadenza. The ensuing repetition also includes the woodwinds.

A quaver on the oboes follows the theme of the closing group. The theme of the epilogue and a cadenza close the exposition. An epilogue coda, consisting of a unisono movement in eighth notes closing on B forms the ending.

bars 109-123
The development begins with a transformed motif from the main theme. Instead of the original 4th a 6th is used. With a start in forte the orchestra takes over the final passage of the main theme unisono, returning to piano after 2 bars.

A tutti with the triad fragmentations from the bridge of the exposition sounds all the more powerful. A subject split from the triad motif introduces a chromatic passage.

The final phase of the development serves the formation of cadenzas. Via F sharp Haydn moves to B minor and the frequently repeated eighth note runs in B. They form the end of the exposition as well as of the development and lead on to the recapitulation of the main theme.

The recapitulation, often a repetition of the used themes in the root key of the symphony, deviates from the exposition by leaving out passages and adding new ones. E.g. the bridge with the triad fragmentations and the repetitions of the main theme are omitted.

The secondary theme occurs only once.

The real elaboration takes place in the recapitulation and not - as usual - in the development. Rearrangements of the thematic material produce new interconnections. The classical sonata form becomes a formal structure, the meaning lies in the musical process and is determined b by the thematic material. The main theme is played by viola, cello, double-bass and bassoon, counterpointed by violin 1 and 2 with the transformed main theme. The passage ends with the theme played unisono in the orchestra until the full orchestra plays cadences in the dominant seventh and simple chords close the "development section" of the recapitulation.

The end of the movement is approaching. Lilting upbeats of the main theme precede a twice repeated statement of the main theme, starting in the 1st violins, then slightly extended in a repetition and finally in the flutes.

The main theme is followed by the theme of the closing group.

bars 243-259
The epilogue theme leads on to a brief coda.

Turn over to 2nd movement    

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