1764: Haydn: Symphony No. 21 in A major (Mozart/Beethoven), age 32

Mr. Peabody Says:

I would start here: Menuett and Trio 3:56. It belongs to this symphony. Then listen to this: Menuetto: Allegretto (G major, with trio in D major) 2:36. You will immediately hear that the theme is the same. Haydn clearly influenced Mozart because this symphony came 23 years earlier.

There is so much to like in this symphony. I would call this more of a “middle period” symphony, if not by age then by style. It still hast the early instrumentation, no trumpets, no timpani, but the writing is superb.

The date:

I would bet off the top of my head that this was written later than the date given, 1764. Haydn was definitely pushed by his knowledge of the music of Mozart to evolve, and this sounds so much like Mozart at times that I could swear I hear that influence. But I would be wrong, because Mozart was at this time only 14. My only conclusion can be that Mozart was even more influenced by Haydn than I had realized.

Christopher Hogwood/The Academy of Ancient Music

  1. Adagio 4:23
  2. Presto 4:27
  3. Menuett and Trio 3:56
  4. Allegro molto 3:51

Total time 16:37

Adam Fischer/Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra

  1. Adagio 4:25
  2. Presto 4:34
  3. Menuett and Trio 2:48
  4. Allegro molto 4:15


  • two oboes
  • two horns in A
  • strings
  • continuo


There is none, but I’m reasonably sure that none of his early symphonies start off with a complete slow movement. The 2nd movement is very much like Beethoven, and the minuet starts just like “Eine Kleine Nacht Musik”.

1st movement:

The entire first movement is slow, with the tempo marking adagio. It is uncommon for Haydn to have an opening movement set at a slow pace for its entirety; usually he will begin a first movement with a slow tempo for an introduction but the rest will be at a faster tempo.

2nd movement:

In this movement you can hear the lightness and playful of Mozart and early Beethoven. When you hear Hadyn referred to as “the father of the symphony”, you can really hear it here. He established the form, but here you can hear is mastery of composition.

3rd movement:

The first eight notes of the menuett were used to start the minuet of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and this is not by any means the only time Mozart later quoted Haydn, his close friend. Note that Fischer’s recording is shorter. In other recordings that’s because of not taking some repeats, and that’s part of it here, but the tempo is faster.

4th movement:

What is there to say about this? It is probably enough to mention that it is a lot of fun at the end of a symphony that is a pure delight. Add to that that some of this sounds so much like Mozart, again, and the quality is obvious.

3 thoughts on “1764: Haydn: Symphony No. 21 in A major (Mozart/Beethoven), age 32

  1. Adding the links for comparison was a wonderful idea. It made it easy to hear the similarities. I never realized how much Haydn influenced other composers.

    After listening to several of Haydn’s pieces I noticed that there is no fanfare at the conclusion. It just comes to a quiet stop.

  2. The influence and interrelationship with others such as Mozart and Beethoven are in themselves interesting. The link to the similar Mozart movement is fascinating. But it might be good to put a link to this post from your Spotlight post about Eine Kleine Nacht Musik to show the link between both 3rd movements.

    1. This is an excellent idea, so I added it at the top for comparison. Now people can hear how similar both movements are. Note that the Haydn has no pickup. It’s simpler, shorter, and in a different key.

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