Symphony No.80

Joseph Haydn

Symphony No.80 in D minor

Hob. I/80

About this work

At 50, Haydn was seemingly taking scholarly delight in composing symphonies in groups of three in contrasting related keys, with the central work a more subdued essay in minor. Such is No. 80 in D minor, that tragic-dramatic key of the great "ninth" symphonies of the Romantics. It may be a bit glib to forge a link with this work and the final symphonies of Beethoven and Bruckner; indeed could they have even known Haydn's No. 80? But there is a curious coincidence in the expanded adagio in the Haydn work, premonitory of the later Viennese masters. Likewise do several pronounced pauses look well into the next century.

The opening movement seems to take Sturm und Drang into a more profound area, the tempestuous first subject expanded beyond what one would expect for the period. The second subject finally does emerge, a contrast in quirky stammering rhythm, and occupies nearly all of the development section, making the return of the fiery first theme all the more urgent. The adagio which follows possesses a Schubertian bitter-sweetness; also Schubertian is a sudden forte which is prophetic of the slow movement of the "Great C major," as is the (for its time) "heavenly length." Even the minuet and trio are solemn, the only dance connection being its rhythm and tempo, much as in Mozart's 40th. The mercurial D major finale, then, seems almost an appendage, an enjoinder to disregard the proceeding. That aside, the relatively unfamiliar No. 80 is a visionary work, its possible influence on later symphonists intriguing.