1763: Haydn: Symphony No. 12 in E major (Siciliano), age 31 GA

Mr. Peabody Says:

This is a short symphony, with only three movements. This is the earliest symphony that I recall having the typical fast, energetic last movement that became almost his “hook” later in life, waking up the audience and make them tap their toes at the end. So try starting with: III Presto, 2/4

Giovanni Antonini/Il Giardino Armonico:

At his best Antonini is as good as any I’ve heard, so this is my pick. It has a ton of energy, and watching him and his orchestra is bonus.

  1. Allegro, 2/2 5:07
  2. Adagio, 6/8 in E minor 6:12
  3. Presto, 2/4 3:21 (End: 14:19)

Adam Fischer:

I’m leaving this for contrast, but it’s stodgy in the last movement and for me totally fails

  1. Allegro, 2/2 5:07
  2. Adagio, 6/8 in E minor 9:28
  3. Presto, 2/4 4:03


  • 2 oboes
  • bassoon
  • 2 horns
  • strings and
  • continuo

Chamber symphony:

The Symphony No. 12 and most of his early symphonies are sometimes called “chamber symphonies” because at that time he was writing for very small groups, both in number of players and in the number of different instruments.


The second movement is in “siciliano”, or rocking rhythm, similar to the pastoral slow movements of #27 and and an earlier symphony simply given the name “B”.

Short symphony:

Symphony No 12 (1763) is one of the shortest symphonies Haydn ever composed, but for me it is striking for several reasons: Haydn eventually almost had a formula for his symphonies, and part of that was a really energetic “fun” last movement. You can hear it in this work. Then there are only three movements instead of the usual four. There is no medium fast or very fast movement that has the sound of either a minuet or a scherzo. The middle movement is slow, in minor and so makes a fantastic contrast to the 1st and last movements.

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