Haydn's symphonies had already been catalogued by Eusebius Mandyczewski in 1908. There were 104 symphonies numbered in the chronological order that was known at the time. Further scholarship by Hoboken and other musicologists discovered that some of the symphonies were actually numbered out of chronological sequence, but the earlier numbering system was so widely used that Hoboken retained it, and he also discovered 4 more symphonies that brought the total to 108.
Symphony No. 59 In A Major is one of the symphonies that was numbered out of sequence and given a higher number than works written around the same time. Musicologists have determined that it was written ca. 1768, about the same time that Symphony No. 48 in C major, Maria Theresa was written,
|Anthony van Hoboken|
I. Presto - A tempo indication of presto is unusual for the first movement of a symphony at the time, but Haydn was ever flexible and original in his compositions. The violins create spirited restlessness as they repeat the tonic note of A, and the entire orchestra plays forte. The spirit of this opening movement may have been the original inspiration for the nickname fire. The exposition is repeated. The exposition has two other quite short and secondary snatches of themes, but it is the crackling first theme that stands out. The development section begins with a short working out of the first theme, and a brief expansion of a secondary theme. The recapitulation follows the general plan of the exposition with the obligatory modulations of secondary themes. As is the case with Haydn's early symphonies, he directs the development and recapitulation to be repeated. Some conductors do, some don't but as short as the movement is, it makes sense if it is repeated. In contrast to the loudness of the fire at the beginning of the movement, the fire dies away at the end.
II. Andante o piu tosto - Allegretto - Written in A minor, the first theme is a minor key minuet while the second theme is in C major and also has the feeling of a minuet. The development section expands the second theme and briefly returns to the opening theme. The key changes to A major as the oboes and horns (which have been silent) join with the strings as the second theme is played in the new key. It is briefly interrupted by the first theme, but quickly returns and finishes out the movement.
III. Menuet e Trio - This movement not only retians the time signature of 3/4 of the previous one, but its main theme is an A major variant of the A minor theme of the second movement. The theme of the A minor trio flows through the violins while the lower strings play a pizaccato accompaniment.
IV. Finale: Allegro - The movement begins with a dialogue for horns and oboes. The strings join in in music that returns to the spirit of the first movement. A secondary theme is more lyrical, but it doesn't last long as the music for the most part maintains the fast pace Haydn preferred for many of his last movements.