1789: Haydn: Symphony No. 92 (OXFORD) in G major

MONDAY, November 9, 2020 – 12:43 AM

(I am continuing with my Haydn symphony exploration. I’ve listened to all the London symphonies, so I’m continuing back. This is #13, moving backward. Now 91 to go!)

Symphony No. 92 (OXFORD) in G major, age 57

Joseph Haydn completed his Symphony No. 92 in G major, Hoboken I/92, popularly known as the Oxford Symphony, in 1789 as one of a set of three symphonies commissioned by the French Count d’Ogny.


  • for the symphony is: flute, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons
  • 2 horns, 2 trumpets
  • timpani
  • strings

Thomas Hengelbrock

1st movement

There is the usual intro, an absolute trademark of Haydn. He opens with three chords, and later he will end the whole symphony that way. Supposedly this is monothematic, meaning the same basic theme is used for all movements. I don’t know this symphony well enough to say anything about his

Second movement

Haydn uses an unusual construction in this movement by adding an intense middle section in D minor. This minor interlude is based on a motive from the opening section. A shortened return of the major section precedes a section of the movement that features the winds.

Third movement

Haydn composes the third movement in ABA form with a minuet and trio. Both the minuet and trio are in binary form with repeats. Haydn composed the minuet with phrases of six measures as opposed to the normal four-measure phrase and added syncopations and stops. All of these qualities were found to be humorous by the audiences of Haydn’s time because they were so unusual.

Fourth movement

It says “presto”, and this is as fast as you might think. Lots of energy is here. As always with Haydn I don’t hear any one theme that will immediately make me remember in the future that I am hearing Symphony No. 92, but there are a couple things here that are very interesting. He ends with three quick chords, which reflect all the way back to the 1st movement.


The symphony is called the “Oxford” because Haydn is said to have conducted it at the conclusion of a ceremony in 1791 in which the degree of Doctor of Music was conferred on him by Oxford University.

Haydn’s appearance at Oxford is evidence of the international success he attained in his late fifties. It was Charles Burney, himself a graduate of University College and an Oxford doctor of music, who suggested that the degree should be conferred on Haydn and who made all the arrangements.

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