His was always a lively listen but 200 years after the composer’s death, Haydn’s fresh and innovatory spirit matters more than ever.

Lived1732-1809
Mostly inthe Esterházy court and vienna
Best known forstring quartets, over 100 symphonies, piano sonatas, The creation
Similar to Mozart, Early Beethoven, CPE Bach


A late-night Prom: Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s London Baroque Soloists are spinning their way through the finale of Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No 90 in C Major. The music arrives at a definitive fanfare in the home key and stops. The promenaders begin to applaud – only to hear Sir John shout “It’s not finished!” Nor is it, for after four silent bars the movement quietly picks up in the remotest key, wandering through all manner of byways before getting back on what is surely the home straight. But then it all happens again: same stop, same audience reaction, same continuation. Without letting on, Sir John has gone straight into a repeat of the movement’s second half, as Haydn asks. Accordingly, when the real ending does arrive, the audience is reluctant to applaud lest it be caught out a third time – which, by that very reluctance, it duly has...

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