COMPOSED BY

Franz Joseph Haydn (March 1732 - May 1809) in 1797

DURATION

Approximately 20 minutes (total 4 movements)

Instrumentation

String Quartet (Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Cello)

SUMMARY OF THE COMPOSITION

It is nicknamed “Sunrise” for its rising theme over sustained chords that begins the quartet. Haydn’s op.76 was dedicated to Count Joseph Erdody, a Hungarian count, and remains as one of the most renowned Haydn’s string quartet collections.

1

Allegro con spirito

This movement starts with a stunning opening, with a long melody in the first violin emerging from sustained chords in the lower strings. The introduction grows until the first full-fledged theme bursts like blinding light, with the sun fully emerging. Haydn introduces the theme repeatedly to emphasise on this emotion, sometimes inverting the theme using the cello.

2

Adagio

The adagio is evocative of a holy hymn, recalling the beginning of the first movement but in slow motion. It can be imagined as a more sombre sunset, contrasting the brightness heard in the first movement.

3

Menuetto, Allegro

Haydn transforms the French court dance into a robust German waltz, with a steady downbeat, a strong forward momentum, and passages that recall the gentle rise of the sun at the beginning.

4

Finale, Allegro, ma non-troppo

The finale begins on a crisp and tuneful note, sounding like an English folk song. The structure is similar to the first movement, with alternating major-minor episodes. Haydn puts his foot down on the accelerator, piu allegro, piu presto, and finishes with an exhilarating race to the end.

WHO IS ... Franz Joseph Haydn?

Suprising fun facts

  • Haydn was the brother of the composer, Michael Haydn.
  • Famous for his pranks. While still studying, he once cut off the ponytail of a fellow chorus member.
  • Was affectionately called “Papa” Haydn by many people for various reasons.
  • He was occupied with his works and travelling, and didn’t pay much attention to Beethoven who attempted to study with him.
  • Was kicked out of the choir at 16 when his voice broke.

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