1774: Haydn: Symphony No. 60 in C major (IL DISTRATTO), age 42

Start here for a different sounding “adagio” than anything else by Haydn. I little band keeps intruding into the music.

Adagio – Allegro di molto

This is an incredibly “theatrical” symphony, unique in many ways. It is about someone who daydreams, so at every point, right in the middle of something else a new idea intrudes. Instead of three or four movements there are six. In all ways it is ahead of its time by at least a half century.

Two conductors:

There are officially 104 Haydn symphonies, and there may be even more. In going through all of them I had to pick what I thought the best performances. three or four conductors are at the top my list. Perhaps the most impressive to me, over all, are the complete set by Adam Fischer, which are unfortunately out of my budget. They run around $100. But thanks to YouTube contributors I found all but one. The nicest setup for me is when each symphony is in one file. For this symphony it’s possible, because someone put all the “name” symphonies in one long recording that is almost six hours long, and because of that I can link to the whole thing.

The other conductor who I love is Giovanni Antonini, and the cool thing about him is that there are live videos, so you get to see everything. Which of these men is better? So far I’d say this: if you like a symphony, listen to both

Adam Fischer:

  1. Adagio – Allegro di molto
  2. Andante
  3. Menuetto – Trio, (Trio in C minor)
  4. Presto, in C minor and major
  5. Adagio (di Lamentatione), in F major
  6. Finale – Prestissimo

Giovanni Antonini

This man is going to record every Haydn symphony by 2032, sort of a 200 year tribute.

Instruments:

  1. two oboes
  2. bassoon
  3. two horns
  4. two optional trumpets
  5. timpani
  6. strings

Nickname

The symphony makes use of music Haydn wrote for a play, Le Distrait, by Jean-François Regnard, given a German revival in 1774 by Karl Wahr under the German title Der Zerstreute (Il Distratto is the title that appears on Haydn’s incidental music, however).

Symphony No. 60 contains the overture, four entr’actes and finale from the music composed for the five-act play.

Movements:

The finale features one of Haydn’s famous musical jokes: the energetic prestissimo opening grinds to a sudden halt following a spectacularly discordant orchestral flourish, as the violins discover that they seemingly “need” to retune their strings—which they noisily proceed to do for 10 to 15 seconds before they resume playing.

2 thoughts on “1774: Haydn: Symphony No. 60 in C major (IL DISTRATTO), age 42

  1. Papa Haydn did a great job coordinating the music to the play. The pauses, changes in tempo, the marching band, and the tuning of the instruments all added to the enjoyment of listening to this wonderful music.

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