Symphony No 101 in D Mayor ‘The Clock’ Andante (1794) – Joseph Haydn


Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809)

This delightful little piece will put a spring in your step, speaking of which I just read that from 27 Abril we will be allowed outdoors to exercise in Bogotá. Symphony No. 101 in D major is the ninth of twelve London symphonies written by Austrian composer Joseph Haydn. It is popularly known as The Clock because of the “ticking” rhythm throughout the second movement. He wrote it for the second of his two visits to London. On 3 March 1794, the work was premiered with an orchestra of 60 personally gathered by Haydn’s colleague and friend Johann Peter Salomon. The response of the audience was very enthusiastic. The Oracle even reported it to be his best work and the Morning Chronicle wrote: ‘the inexhaustible, the wonderful, the sublime HAYDN! The first two movements were encored; and the character that pervaded the whole composition was heartfelt joy’.

For much of his career Joseph Haydn was the most celebrated composer in Europe. He was a friend and mentor of Mozart, a tutor of Beethoven. Who wouldn’t kill to have that on their CV? Since there was little or no formal music training where he grew up Haydn’s parents sent him off to a relative who was a choirmaster where he would train as a singer and musician. Haydn later recalled that he remembered being frequently hungry as a small child and after he was taken in, he would never return to live with his parents. For nine years in his youth, he was a chorister at the St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.

After he matured Haydn struggled working at many different jobs: as a music teacher, as a street serenader, and eventually, in 1752, as valet–accompanist for the Italian composer Nicola Porpora, from whom he later said he learned “the true fundamentals of composition”. As his skills increased, Haydn began to acquire a public reputation, first as the composer of an opera, Der krumme Teufel, “The Limping Devil”. Haydn also noticed, apparently without annoyance, that works he had simply given away were being published and sold in local music shops. 1779 was a watershed year for Haydn, as his contract was renegotiated: whereas previously all his compositions were the property of the Esterházy family, he now was permitted to write for others and sell his work to publishers.

Another friend in Vienna was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whom Haydn had met sometime around 1784. According to later testimony the two composers occasionally played in string quartets together. Haydn was hugely impressed with Mozart’s work and praised it unstintingly to others. Mozart evidently returned the esteem, as seen in his dedication of a set of six quartets, now called the “Haydn” quartets, to his friend. Haydn became a very popular composer In London where his music dominated the concert scene, and it is said “hardly a concert did not feature a work by him”. His journey to London in 1791 was the start of a very auspicious period for Haydn. Audiences flocked to Haydn’s concerts; he augmented his fame and made large profits. Musically, Haydn’s visits to England generated some of his best-known work, including the Surprise, Military, Drumroll and London symphonies; the Rider quartet; and the “Gypsy Rondo” piano trio.

As a rich man, Haydn now felt that he had the privilege of taking his time and writing for posterity. This is reflected in the subject matter of The Creation (1798) and The Seasons (1801), which address such weighty topics as the meaning of life and the purpose of humankind and represent an attempt to render the sublime in music. The change in Haydn’s approach was important in the history of classical music, as other composers were soon following his lead. Notably, Beethoven adopted the practice of taking his time and aiming high.

1. Joseph Haydn – Wikipedia
2. Symphony No. 101 (Haydn) – Wikipedia

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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16 comments on “Symphony No 101 in D Mayor ‘The Clock’ Andante (1794) – Joseph Haydn
  1. Definitely put a spring in the step, thanks Matthew – although what I’m doing being so merry at 5am is anyone’s guess!

    • I’m chuffed to read that Bruce. How’s lif treating you over there? I read NZ was about to ease some restrictions.

      • In my opinion the NZ PM’s behaviour during this lockdown is farcical. Most of the restrictions have been quite unnecessary. It has shown up one thing however: that the quality of food NZ export overseas is infinitely superior to the shit they sell us back home. Because of limited stock they have been forced to make available the food normally sent overseas.I am the first to point this out. The quality of flour is one example. Meat another.

      • I like calling her Miss Goody-two shoes, because she is the media’s darling around the world. A bit like Justin Trudeau was way back when. But to be honest I hardly know anything about them both. How has her behavior irked you?
        So if I understand you correctly you are now only getting the good food stuff made at home? Ah nice.

  2. selizabryangmailcom says:

    It’s so funny how it’s always the same old story, isn’t it? Artists having to struggle at jobs they don’t like and scrape by and somehow keep creating….until (hopefully) they’re one day well off enough to finally do “what they want” with their creativity. This was hundreds of years ago, and it’s exactly the same today and hasn’t changed. lol !!

    My mom told me a long time ago I should write romances to make some money then afterwards I could write what I “wanted” to write. What did I do? Completely turned my 20-year-old nose up at the idea! How absurd! I wouldn’t waste my time on such drivel! But now, of course, looking back….it was a good idea. I’m not sure how good I would have been at romances, but something that appealed to a wider audience than the small, dark, depressing stories I was writing would have been good.

    I liked the music, btw. It IS very peppy.

    Also was reading yours and Bruce’s exchange and was thinking one good thing about NZ, I thought, at least, was how fast they jumped on the gun restrictions after that shooting happened there. Something like that obviously would never happen here. Someone walked in and slaughtered children in an elementary school and we should have done something back then, but absolutely not one thing happened.

    • What a coincidence Stacey! I just got your message so soon after writing about your recent blog guest interview in my ‘News on the march’ piece coming out tomorrow. I hope you don’t mind I took the liberty of using your backflip photo lol

      Of course Haydn was fortunate that he had a family member willing to take him in otherwise his prodigious talents may never have been realised. I hope he was able to give back some of the proceeds to his impoverished family. I see what you mean about how sometimes obsessed artists have to do other things to make ends meet so they can pursue their passions.This reminds me of how Charles Bukowski applied to be a journalist, but was turned down and later worked at a P.O which could support him to continue writing into the wee hours when he wasn’t working.

      That’s an interesting story how you turned your nose up to your Mum’s idea about writing romance novels and I can fully appreciate that reaction especially at that age.I would have thought, perhaps like the Musician; the Writer can only truly manifest their talent in the medium/genre which ‘truly’ inspires them. Perhaps you could have written dark depressing romance novels! haha. The music by Haydn in this post isn’t in my top tier of classical highlights because it’s a bit too repetitive for my liking, but it has a sunny disposition and I could understand for its time to have been quite the thrill for audiences.

      I couldn’t agree more regarding your sentiments about the gun control reaction in NZ. This was also the case after the horrific Port Arthur tragedy in Australia. But supposedly comparing these countries to yours is like comparing apples to oranges at least on the gun control issue. As a non-US resident it is hard to weigh in on it, as the second amendment is so coveted and what may work in one culture such as Australia may not work in another. I read a fascinating article in the NY times titled ‘Australia’s Gun Laws Are Not a Model for America’:

  3. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Oh, man, unfortunately, that article is right. What works elsewhere won’t work with us due to history and the “right to bear arms” in the Constitution. People REALLY take that “right to bear arms” to heart, even though everybody’s completely misreading it. What it actually says is a “well-regulated militia” has the right to organized and defend, because, of course, like what the article said: we were fighting for “freedom” and having revolutions. But it never said it was okay for folks to walk around with semiautomatics (I know they didn’t exist then, but you know what I’m saying) and/or to walk up to people in their cars who are playing rap music too loudly and then shoot them if they don’t turn it down.

    What’s really horrendous is that when the high school kids started sticking up for themselves (because they were sick of getting gunned down every other year by their mentally ill peers) and talking publicly before groups some congressmen and other politicians actually made fun of them, like insinuating that they were “over the top” prima donnas, and also accused them of being professional actors sent out into the world to talk “bad” about guns so all the yahoos in the U.S. would have their precious guns taken away! Made fun of children! Who are afraid for their lives at their own schools! Beyond belief. Beyond comprehension.

    PS: Yeah, happy you wanted to use that photo! It’s really a great shot. I can’t believe I used to do that stuff. I can’t even stand on my hands anymore (shoulder and wrist injuries). But I intend to get back there!

    • I couldn’t agree more with everything you wrote about guns especially the part about semi-automatic weapons. I figure if someone like Obama couldn’t change the laws then nobody can. Whenever I think of the hopelessness of this issue I can’t help but recall Dylan’s lyrics in ‘Blowing in the Wind’.

      I’m glad my using that photo was Ok with you. I love it too. I always wanted to do a backflip, but never had the guts to try it. I can’t believe you did it from a fence lol Perhaps if I had been egged on by someone in my youth I might have given it a go.

  4. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Omg, I hope not! You might have broken your neck, Matt! I was a gymnast from age 7 to my mid-20s. That’s the ONLY reason I was jumping backwards off that fence! But we DO succumb to peer pressure when young sometimes, huh? We’re morons when we’re young. Then by the time we have any smarts, we’re tired and worn out. Nice system. Props, lol !!

  5. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Actually, in retrospect, I’m thinking about how strong guys are in general and you probably would have been able to heft yourself up and over just with leg strength alone…enough to get you to your knees, at least, haha.

    BTW, forgot to tell you–Finally got to see My Old Lady over the weekend! It was a nice story, albeit very, very slow…lots of gabbing…but they did the gabbing very well (all of those actors, of course, are fantastic), it was engaging and emotional and I see in retrospect why it was like that, since it was based on a play.

    What I loved learning about was their viager system which, of course, the whole movie was based on. Fascinating. What an odd way to conduct business…but so French, right?! haha

    • There is a yoga move I sometimes do where you stand bent backwards on your hands and feet. But that takes a lot of effort for me as I don’t practice it often enough. But that doesn’t even come close to the ‘awesomeness’ of a backflip, not even in the same vicinity lol

      I hadn’t heard of that movie. I looked it up and it has so-so reviews, but a great cast. I just downloaded ‘Howard’s End’ which is another James Ivory movie made around the same time as Remains of the Day. I’m looking forward to seeing that over coming days as it was recommended to me. I had to look up what a Viager system was, but I can understand the sense in it so widows or widowers can receive a regular source of income after the death of a spouse. How fascinating indeed!

  6. selizabryangmailcom says:

    aaaah! I think my last response got dropped.
    I was saying sorry–I thought it was you who had recommended My Old Lady but I must have read it somewhere else! It’s just that only one other site would have been talking about a drama because all the other folk that talk about/review movies don’t do straight dramas.

    But anyhoo…so-so reviews. Not surprising. A little toooooooooo slow.
    But there was an actor in there, also, whom I love to death. Dominique Pinon. His face is just so amazing.

    • Yes, you’re a mixer up of persons. Been there done that. When I read it, I wondered how My Old Lady related to our convo, but carry on lol

      I just looked up Dominique Pinon and yes his face is unique. Some people are blessed with faces that are almost like caricatures.
      I was just thinking the other night when I was watching a bit of ‘Hail Caesar’ by the Coen Bros and I saw the actor Patrick Fischler. If I was to single out just one actor whose demeanor and face exuded ‘screen presence’ and it’s other worldly-ness, he would be the person. His role in Mulholland Drive seems derivative of that part of ‘character’ and our fascination with it.

  7. selizabryangmailcom says:

    And now I just looked up Patrick Fishler. I didn’t know the name at all but we know him very well from that weird series Happy. I had no idea he was in Mad Men too and even though we saw Mulholland Drive, I don’t remember him. He DOES have one of those faces, though. Other-worldly is a great description. Also had no idea he was 50. He looks much younger.

    • He does indeed look younger than 50. Lucky bastard lol I only remember him from Mulholland Dr. I very rarely watch TV series. The last one I watched was True Detective Season 1 which was fantastic.

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