1788: Haydn: Symphony No. 91 in Eb major Hob. I/91, age 56

1788: Haydn: Symphony No. 91 in Eb major Hob. I/91, age 56

It was completed in 1788 as part of a three-symphony  commission from Count d’Ogny for the Concert de la Loge Olympique, These are Symphonies No. 90-92.

The autograph manuscript bears a dedication to d’Ogny, but Haydn also gave Prince Krafft Ernst von Oettingen-Wallerstein a copy as if it were an original.

Orchestration:

  • flute, two oboes, two bassoons
  • two horns
  • continuo (harpsichord)
  • strings

It is the last symphony that Haydn composed that is not scored for trumpets and timpani.

Movements:

  • Largo – Allegro assai, Eb major
  • Andante in Bb major
  •  Minuet: Un poco allegretto, Eb major
  • Vivace, Eb major

1st movement

The first movement opens with a slow introduction which Haydn works into the opening allegro assai. The Allegro’s first theme is derived from an idea Haydn used in his cantata Arianna a Naxos, composed the same year. The theme is chromatic, legato and in two-part inverted counterpoint.[4] The second theme is dance-like. Both the themes are closely linked with the opening largo.

2nd movement

The slow movement consists of a set of three variations on a theme. Listen to the bassoon and the accompanying string filigree in the first variation and the series of trills near the end of the movement.

3rd movement

The minuet includes a trio for the bassoon accompanied by plucked strings.

4th movement

The finale opens quietly and builds gradually to a close.

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