1773: Haydn: The Symphony No. 51 in Bb major (INSANE HORN), age 41

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You will hear some of the most astounding horn playing ever recorded, and in the conception of Haydn it is absolutely brilliant.


This second, slow, movement contains high notes for the first horn and very low notes for the second horn, up to Ab and down to low Bb. This is trumpet and tuba range. So that’s my nickname for this symphony. Normally the top note today for horn is F, so what Haydn asked his players to do was astounding. But we know from reading that he had the very best players around, and that’s why it all works.

Even higher

The third movement contains an even higher note for horn, Bb5, which is high C for trumpet. This is one of the highest notes ever written for horn in a symphony. If I had not heard this, I would say it’s impossible, and the writing of a poor composer. Well, I was terribly wrong.

Menuetto – Trio I – Trio II

Adam Fischer (the whole symphony)

  1. Vivace
  2. Adagio
  3. Menuetto – Trio I – Trio II
  4. Allegro


  • 2 oboes
  • 2 horns (Bb alto, Eb)
  • bassoon
  • strings

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