Haydn: Symphony No. 26 in D minor 'Lamentatione': Movement I

The symphony by Joseph Haydn is relativley little known but has many interesting and unusal features. The name Lamentatione (italian for 'lamentation') is confusing because the plainsont melody quoted bar 17 was associated with the Passion naratives sung in church in Holy Week, not with the Lamentations of Jeremiah.

The symphony from c. 1770 is one of several with Sturm und Drang ('Storm and Stress') characteristics. Sturm und Drang was an artistic movement in Germany in all the arts which climaxed in the 1770's.

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Haydn wrote for:

- Violins I and II 

- Violas

- Chellos

- Double basses

- 2 oboes

- Bassoon

- 2 horns in D

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  • Strings are simple by the standard of most later orchestral music, there is a little double stopping in the violins at the end where both parts play repeated three note tonic chords
  • There are mainly seperate parts for both violins I and II but sometimes (at the beginning) they are in unison 
  • Violin I is generally higher that violin II and more active
  • Violin I has the main melodic interest but violin II doubles the plainsong melodin in the oboe
  • Violas usually double the chellos either in unison or an octave higher
  • Double bases always double the chellos at an octave lower


  • Oboes generally double the violins in unison or at an octave, only rarely (at the closing bars) do they have independant parts
  • Oboes often play simpler versions of the violin parts (as in bars 57-63) 18th centuary oboes were not always easy to play
  • Oboes take a few long rests (bars 9-16) providing contrast of sonoority and texture


  • 'Natural horns lacked the valves introduced in the early 19th century and had inserted special additional pieces of tubing, known as crooks these transposed the harmonic series to the key most convenient (usually the tonic) for that piece
  • In the F major part of the exposition Haydn avoids horns altogether
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Number of parts:


  • The number of instrumental lines normally exceeds the number of parts, because of doubling
  • In bars 1-8 and similar passages, there are essentially only two parts, each doubled in octave(s) 
  • Away from bars 1-8 and similar passages, we find mainley three part and four part writing

Type of texture:

  • Often a prominent melody in one or more instruments is accompanied by the other parts- this is commonly referred to as melody- dominated homophony
  • The main melodic interest is often in violin I as customary in Haydn's time, but the plainsong used as second subject is in violin II, in order that the higher and more agile countermelody can be taken by violin I 
  • Occasionally all parts moved in the same rhythm, notably in bars 9-11, such rhythmically- uniorm homophonic writing may be termed choral or homorhythmic 
  • The two part opening bars (1-8) and similar passages are contrapuntal:the parts are clearly differentiated rhythmically 
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This movement is in a fairly simple sonata form.

Exposition (bars 1-44)
As in so many sonata-form movements, Haydn's Exposition has:

  • Music in the tonic key (D minor) - the 'first subject' bars 1-16
  • Music in a closley- related key, F major (the relative major) with different melodic material - the 'second subject' - bars 17-44

Development (bars 45-79)
As in so many sonata- form movements, Haydn's development has:

  • Key(s) other than those previously heard before returning to the tonic
  • Reuse of themes already heard in the Exposition
  • He starts on F major and then visits G major (bar 55)
  • Then A minor (bar 65)
  • Then touches on F minor (bar 76)
  • Lastly regains D minor (bar 79)  just in time for the Recapitulation

Recapitulation (from bar 80)
The Exposition is repeated with some changes, the most important is the return of the second subject (bar 100) in D major, the tonic.

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  • Tonality is based on major and minor scales and is dependant on functional harmony
  • In the Exposition, the change from D minor at the start to F major (the relative major) is conventional, even predictable for the time
  • The Development begins by continuing in F major for 10 bars. Two minor keys are important after this: G minor ( the subdominant minor, from bar 55) and A minor ( the dominant minor from bar 65)
  • The most memorable tonal moment is the change to D major, the tonic major, for the second subject in the Recapitulation. Modulating from tonic minor to tonic major within a movement was uncharacteristic of Baroque music- it was fairly common in the Classical period onwards, sometimes as a means of creating a change of mood
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  • The harmony, as normal in the Classical period was functional - notably with much emphasis on the special tonic and dominant functions of chords I and V (7) in establishing tonality in perfect cadences and elsewhere
  • The prime importance of chords V (7) and I can be seen particularly clear in bars 9-12, with I-Vb in D minor heard four times in succession
  • Bars 57-65 (part of the development) has a circle of fifths
  • There are a few diminished seventh chords - these help to create harmonic tension in minor-key writing
  • Suspensions also create harmonic tension, as for example in parts of the first subject (bars 1-8 and 13-16) There is a double suspensions (two suspensions simultaneously) at the end of the Evangelist's first passage in the second subject (bar 25), and a characteristically Classical-period triple suspension (or 'appoggiatura' chord at the end of the passage marked 'Christ' (bar 31).
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  • Like much plainsong, the second subject melody is predominantly stepwise, with just a few small leaps, the widest of which is a perfect 5th. The violin I countermelody provides effectiv contrast with continuous disjunct movement largely based on broken chords
  • The main melody of the first subject (bars 1-8, violins) is much more varied. Each of the first three phrases has repeated notes in syncopated rhythm, then an upward leap, including a striking major 6th in bar 4, leading to a stepwise decent that creates suspentions against the bass
  • The contrasting idea in bars 9-12 consists cheifley of four semitone decents (F-E) alternatley in low and high octaves, the higher ones elaborated with appoggiaturas and trills. The effect, given the piano dynamic, the minor- key harmony, and the rests, is almost of four sighs- contrasting with the tense and forte syncopated opening
  • Bars 1-16 and similar passages employ periodic phrasing, that is, the music has regular balanced phrases in multipules of two and four bar. In the second subject, derived from plainsong, the phrasing is less regular
  • There is sequence in bars 53-56 (Development- based on the 'sighing' motif), and in the circle of fifths (bars 57-63)
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Rhythm and Metre

  • The most striking rhythmic feature is the syncopation at the opening and in related passages. The lower part is on the beat all the time, in crotchets, while for each of the first three two bar phrases, the upper part begins with a quaver, then has crotchets, each beginning on the second (weak) quaver of a beat
  • Rests are skillfully used for purposes of articulation.The opening passage ends on the third critchet beat of bar 8, with a rest on the fourth beat separating it clearly from the following contrasting idea (Baroque composers tended to prefergreater rhythmic continuity; clear sseparation of phrases was an important part of Classical rhetoric.) The rests in bars 9-12 serve to separate the four 'sighs' 
  • The metre is in simple quadruple time (four crotchet beats in each bar)with the signature C. In modern performance the given tempo, Allegro assai con spirito, may suggest a minim beat - but the word assai is ambiguous ('very' or 'rather') It perhaps wise not to take the movement so fast that the Passiontide plainsong begins to sound jaunty.
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