Classical Orchestra

This study is centred around the first movement of Haydn’s Symphony no.103.

Symphony No. 103, in E♭ major, the “Drumroll”,

by Joseph Haydn

Johann Peter Salomon, an English virtuoso violinist, composer, and impresario, commissioned Haydn to write two sets of six symphonies. These twelve symphonies (No. 93 to 104), traditionally referred to as the London Symphonies, or Salomon Symphonies, are considered to be the crown examples of Haydn’s symphonic output and prime examples of the classical symphonic form. The first series of concerts in London took place during the years 1791-92 and correspond to the “London” Symphonies Nos. 93-98. It was for the second series of concerts, the 1794-95 season, that Haydn composed Symphony No. 103 in E-flat, the “Drumroll”, which premiered on March 2nd, 1795. Many of these symphonies have nicknames, somehow related to the musical content. Examples include the “Surprise” (No. 94) because of sudden loud “noises” and surprising harmonies in the slow movement, or the “Clock” (No. 101) because of the constant “ticking” sound of the regular rhythm in the second movement.

Here you can download a written analysis of the movement that exemplifies the kind of approach a conductor might use to study this work:

In the video below you can watch maestro Jan Willem de Vriend discussing the work, the context in which it was performed, the general performance practice in the classical period and also experience glimpses of him rehearsing the first movement with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. In the end, you can watch a full performance of the movement in concert from January 2020 in Stavanger Concert Hall.

Many thanks to Jan Willem de Vriend and Stavanger Symphony Orchestra for letting us disturb them during rehearsals. The sound recording of the concert was provided by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK Rogaland / Per Ravnaas. Thanks!

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