Joseph Haydn is the father of the Symphony. He popularized this form and made it his own. His more than 100 Symphonies composed over his lifetime stand testimony to this fact. The piece being perused for this comparative analysis is the first movement of his London Symphony (No.104). The instruments for which it is scored include two flutes, two clarinets in A, two bassoons, two horns in D and G. There are also two trumpets in D to go along with timpani and strings. The introduction begins with strings at a slow yet grandiose fashion, alternating between solemn and triumphant moods. Then the only theme of the movement is introduced. The strings play the dominant role in the theme, which is later transposed in A Major to the woodwinds. This is followed by a codetta. Later the theme is developed again with variation. The theme which was first expressed in D major is developed in B minor the second time around before reverting to D major during the recapitulation. Haydn was a composer who drew from dominant cultural streams of the day. Researchers have identified the theme in the first movement with the popular English hymn-tune (ex.4). First published in 1790, it is one “of the most successful English church music publications of the time: The Psalms of David for the use of Parish Churches, ‘music selected, adapted and composed by Edward Miller Mus. Doct’.6 (Kee, 2006) The London Symphony as a whole is considered one of best compositions by Joseph Haydn. On the day following its premiere, the Morning Chronicle made this observation about the technique involved in the first movement: “Until now the generally-held assumption has been that the first three movements are quotation-free. Indeed the well-known main theme of the first movement is often described as a ‘singing allegro’ devoid of other connotations.” (Kee, 2006).
There are marked differences between the work by Bach and the one by Haydn. The monothematic composition of Haydn is quite common during the Classical era of which he was an integral part. In contrast, all the unique characteristics of the Baroque aesthetic were captured in Bach’s work. Further, Bach’s own unique innovations were introduced through the skilful presentation of diatonal harmony and bold choice of solo instruments (ex. Recorders). With regard to Bach’s piece in particular, a training in appreciating counterpoint is vital for appreciating the music. The Symphonies of Haydn stand in relief to the aesthetics of Bach, in that, counterpoint is only minimally employed. This gives simplicity and accessibility to the music at the cost of compromising on complexity and depth. Although a degree of objectivity could be brought to the evaluation of the two pieces, the manner of ‘listening’ is a factor too. As Ola Stockfelt notes in the work ‘Adequate Modes of Listening’ (1977):
“Analysis of music in everyday listening situations must be based on listening adequate to the given situation. Such adequacy is not determined by the music style in and of itself, or by the genre within which the music style was created, or by the genre to which it primarily belongs today, but rather by the location of the music in the specific situation” (p.92)