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RMCO Work Detail

Title Symphony No. 44 in E Minor ("Mourning")
Composer Haydn, Franz Joseph
Contributor's Name
Bio Movements: Allegro con brio / Menuetto; Trio / Adagio / Presto

Some seventeen of Haydn's symphonies date from the early 1770s, years in which the form well and truly reached maturity in his hands. It was also the period in which new profundity and tragic seriousness entered his music and that of his contemporaries. This symphony's nickname -- Trauersinfonie or 'Mourning Symphony' -- seems for once to have been Haydn's own, and it is reported that he later requested htat its slow movement be played at his funeral. There is no attempt at a funeral march in the symphony as such though, and the mourning conveys more a sense of the anger of loss than quiet contemplation.

The tense opening movement sums up Haydn's Sturm und Drang style with its fierce contrasts of dynamics, urgent 16th note passages, and, towards the end, a brief passage combining contrapuntal imitation with tonality-destablizing chromaticism.

Counterpoint is again to the fore in the Minuet, a strict canon between upper and lower strings. The brighter mood of the major-key trio prepares the way for the Adagio, a movement which provides the calm contemplation lacking in the first movement. The finale is one of Haydn's most remarkable, a movement brimming with nervous energy that is the embodiment of 'storm and stress'.


Work record last updated on 07-19-2004