Symphony No 94 ‘The Surprise’ 2nd movement



Length of piece

5 mins 32 secs


2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 French Horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, first violins, second violins, violas, cellos and double bass.





Franz Jospeh Haydn (1732 – 1809), was an extraordinary pianist and composer. He wrote over a hundred symphonies leading to him being referred a the ’Father of the Symphony’. He also composed significant amounts of chamber music and probably established the string quartet and the piano trio as standard instrumental combinations. Consequently, he is also known as the ‘Father of the string quartet’. Although he was mostly isolated as a Court Musician for the Esterhazy family, his music was widely circulated and he was a friend and mentor to Mozart as well as a tutor to Beethoven. Perhaps his best known work is the oratorio, The Creation. This extravagant work for large choir and orchestra is still part of the modern music repertoire. His symphonies, especially the last ones (eg. The Drum Roll, the Surprise, the London) are still frequently played as well. He is remembered as a real gentle man with an delightful impish sense of humour.

This is the second movement of one of his best known symphonies, no. 94 ‘The Surprise’ and this is the movement that contains the ‘surprise’. That the joke is still current is exemplied by a recent concert conducted by the arranger. This symphony was the 2nd item on the programme preceeding a choir number. During the performance, one of the more senior members had dozed off. They woke with a start and exclaimed in exactly the right place!

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