1761: Haydn: Symphony No. 6 (MORNING) in D major, age 29 DT

Mr. Peabody Says:

Vivaldi wrote “Four Seasons”. This set by Haydn is a lot like, but instead of four movements there are three complete symphonies now called his “Day Trilogy”. Each symphony has four movements. Try starting with: Finale – Allegro, D major. That’s four and a half jaunty minutes of very fun music.

The 1st symphony with the Esterhazy family:

Haydn wrote his first symphonic work for his new employer Prince Paul II Anton Esterhazy, in the spring of 1761, shortly after joining the court. He had signed his employment contract with him on May 1, 1761. Prince Paul gave Haydn the three times of day as a theme for composition. This one is “Morning”.

This is really something like his 30th symphony:

For me this is when Haydn came into his own. The exact order of his symphonies is impossible to determine because the chronology of his first 50 or so of his symphonies is just a guess. Experts try to assess when each symphony was written, and where, and they try to do this based on style, instruments, form and so on. But without information telling us precisely when these early symphonies were written, it’s all very murky.

Steven Isserlis

  1. 0:00 Adagio – Allegro, D major – 6:04
  2. 6:04 Adagio – Andante – Adagio, G major – 6:54
  3. 12:58 Menuetto and Trio, D major – D minor – D major – 4:06
  4. 17:04 Finale – Allegro, D major – 4:35 (End 21:39)


  • 2 flutes
  • 2 oboes
  • bassoon
  • 2 horns
  • strings
  • continuo

1st movement:

There is a sunrise-like intro. Then the allegro stars with solo passages for flute and oboe. At the end of the development, a solo horn states the opening flute theme.

2nd movement:

This is about the strings. The slow movement features solos for violin and cello and is bracketed by an adagio on both ends.

3rd movement:

The minuet also contains concertante passages, which simply means of lots of solo parts. Haydn was highlighting his excellent musicians. The winds are back, including horns and flute. It’s a stately, polite minuet.

The trio begins with solo passages by the double bass and bassoon and are later joined by solo viola.

The trio begins with solo passages by the bass and bassoon and are later joined by solo viola.

4th movement:

The finale has a concerto grosso feel with solos for cello, violin and flute.

Eager to impress:

When Haydn got his new job, his creativity was at a high point. With this symphony, you hear something special. And it marks something like a one-third mark in his progression. So if I were introducing someone to the best of Haydn, I would probably start here.

Day Trilogy:

This is the first of a trio of symphonies called “Day Trilogy”, Nos. 6-8, written for Prince Paul II Anton Esterházy and the first written after Haydn had joined the Esterhazy court. It is the first of three that are characterized by unusual virtuoso writing across the orchestral ensemble. It is popularly known as “Le matin”. In many ways it reminds me of what Vivaldi did with his “Four Season”. Le matin means morning.

Concerto grosso:

This symphony is essentially a “concerto grosso”, a form of baroque music in which the musical material is passed between a small group of soloists (the concertino) and full orchestra (the ripieno, tutti or concerto grosso).

2 thoughts on “1761: Haydn: Symphony No. 6 (MORNING) in D major, age 29 DT

  1. The symphony begins slowly, and gradually suggests sunrise. It progresses to the last movement which is bright and cheerful. Ready to start the day.

    The conductor appeared to be using head movements to lead the orchestra and often had a smile on his face.

    I enjoyed the flute solos.

  2. That certainly must have caught the prince’s attention! Marvelous. I just learned there were four paintings on the ceiling of the hall: morning, afternoon, evening (and another).

    I learned that Haydn also supported the musicians he was responsible for. With the “virtuoso” parts, he was signaling to their employer “look what good musicians you have here”. I heard violin, flute, and bassoon solos. Since I’m not good at recognizing instruments other than a few, did I miss any?

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