1765: Haydn: Symphony No. 72 in D major (4 HORN SCALES), age 33

This symphony belongs to a brief time when Haydn had four horns to work with, which was for around one year, and actually less. The horn parts are insanely hard, and very cool. This has become one of my favorite Haydn symphonies. I would start with Allegro, which is just fun to listen to.

Christopher Hogwood/The Academy of Ancient Music

  1. Allegro – 0:00
  2. Andante – 5:49
  3. Menuet & Trio – 12:35
  4. Finale: Andante (Thema. Var. I–VI) -16:46


  • flute
  • two oboes
  • bassoon
  • four horns
  • strings

1st movement:

This is where you hear four horns, and all to great effect. The virtuoso horn writing is just amazing.

2st movement:

Now you hear solos, flute and violin Note the sound of the old flute is very different, kind of like mixing a modern flute with a recorder.

3rd movement:

The minuet begins and ends with the same phrase, and the ending is an echo. The strings are silent in the trio, which all the winds minus the flute.

4th movement:

The finale is a set of marching variations that features many soloists accompanied by strings. The first variation has a solo flute, the second a solo cello, the third a solo violin and the fourth a solo violone, which you can read about HERE. To my ear this sounds mostly like our bass violin (double bass.) Such bass solos are rather rare, so you can tell that Haydn was showing of his player!

The fifth variation is scored for oboe, two horns and strings while the sixth variation is for flute, oboe, bassoon, four horns and strings. The movement ends with a Presto coda in 6/8 time 8 with a final horn flourish.


There is none, so I’m calling this “horn scales”, and I’m making note of the fact that there are four, because Haydn normally did not have that many to work with. The scale work at the beginning is amazing.


There is no better example of how awful the number system is than this symphony. It was composed fifteen to twenty years before the neighboring works. It belongs with the “Horn Signal” symphony because it has four horns. But it could also be called “everyone gets a solo”, because in the last movement there are so many cool solos.

1 thought on “1765: Haydn: Symphony No. 72 in D major (4 HORN SCALES), age 33

  1. The Haydn pieces I have heard are quite joyful, this one included. Virtuosos are often put in the spotlight. The horns in the first movement are awesome and play some very difficult passages. Several soloists are featured in the last movement which ends with a flourish.

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