1768: Haydn: Symphony No. 26 (LAMENTATIONE) in D minor

WEDNESDAY, November 11, 2020 – 3:00 AM

Symphony No. 26 (LAMENTATIONE) in D minor, age 34

This is one of the early Sturm und Drang Symphonies popularly known as the “Lamentatione”.  It is also one of his first minor key symphonies. Since Haydn’s day, the symphony has been known as “Lamentatione” because of the “Christus” motif of the opening movement’s second theme. As with all the nicknamed symphonies, the title is not Haydn’s own.

Instrumentation:

  • two oboes, bassoon
  • two horns
  • continuo
  • strings

Giovanni Antonini

  • I. Allegro assai con spirito, D minor – D major
  • II. Adagio, F major
  • III. Minuet e Trio in D minor – D major – D minor

An earlier tradition suggested the symphony had been written for Christmas (at the time a much less significant religious holiday), but the oldest original extant manuscript indicates clearly that the symphony was indeed intended for Easter celebrations.

It is an early example of the “Sturm und Drang” style that characterized much of his symphonic output to 1774 or 1775.

Because of its association with Easter week, Haydn incorporates a melody derived from an old plainsong chant of the “Passion of Christ”, interpolating (as the second theme) this familiar liturgical setting to contrast with the furious opening theme. The same lament is also picked up in the second movement, reinforcing the symphony’s link to the “Passion” through evocation of a melody that would have been familiar to audiences of the time.

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