Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Haydn - Symphony No. 44 In E Minor 'Trauer' Hob. I/44

Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 44 was written in 1772, and the nickname of the symphony translates to 'mourning'. The symphony was written in Haydn's sturm und drang (storm and stress) period. He had been in the employ as Kapellmeister of the royal Esterhazy family since 1766, and some of the symphonies he wrote between 1766 and 1772 show how much Haydn was experimenting (with the full consent of his royal patron). The two minor key symphonies of this time No. 49 'La Passsione' and  No. 44 'Trauer' are especially expressive, dramatic and different. Haydn wrote a total of seven minor key symphonies in seven years in a time when minor keys were seldom used as the home key for a symphony.  They are evidence that Haydn had a stormier side to his musical nature, at least in his younger days.

Symphony No. 44 has 4 movements:
I. Allegro con brio - The movement begins with a 4-note motif that is heard throughout the movement in various keys and guises. Haydn was very adept at constructing an entire movement from a short motif, and it is one part of his style that Beethoven his student must have admired as he used the same technique in some of his music.

II. Menuetto: Allegretto,canon in diapason - Here Haydn reverses the order of the inner movements and balances the first and third movement's emotions and moods with a minuet. But it is not a typical minuet of the time. First off, it is in the same key as the opening movement. In fact, the first, second and third movements of the symphony have the same home key of E minor. Haydn also writes the minuet in canon; the first measure is heard in the higher strings, the lower strings enter one bar later while the upper strings continue. The low strings remain one bar behind, even lagging two bars behind in one section, until the trio which is very short.

III. Adagio - If tradition is to believed,  Haydn himself gave the symphony the nickname 'mourning', in no small part because of this movement. Haydn must have had a real liking for this music, as later in life he requested that it be played at his funeral.  The key is E major, the melody is played in muted violins and is not a funeral dirge by any means. It is gentle, graceful music that perhaps reflects Haydn's deeply Catholic religious views about death.

IV. Finale: Presto - The theme of this movement is first heard in unison from the orchestra and careens through the entire movement at a fast pace. The drama stated in the first movement is intensified in this very rapid Haydn finale until the music finally halts with two loud chords.