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Thread: How to Determine the Best of Haydn's Symphonies?

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    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    Default How to Determine the Best of Haydn's Symphonies?

    Merl shared this Classic FM article with me, which is quite amusing:

    "We made this guy listen to all 104 Haydn symphonies and put them in order of greatness"

    https://www.classicfm.com/composers/...dn-symphonies/

    But I find myself disagreeing with some placements (83, for instance, is crazy low) as I make my way through my Adam Fischer Complete Haydn set. And I wonder - is it even possible to keep such a massive oeuvre in one's mind in trying to form favorites?

    How should we go about this? Should Haydn-heads submit their list of top 30, and then we can work together a larger 104 item list from there?

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    Senior Member Bulldog's Avatar
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    There was a game in September involving all the Haydn symphonies.

    These were the top ten:

    1. Symphony no. 82 "The Bear"
    2. Symphony no. 92 "Oxford"
    3. Symphony no. 97
    4. Symphony no. 104 "London"
    5. Symphony no. 44 "Mourning"
    5. Symphony no. 102
    7. Symphony no. 6 "Le matin"
    7. Symphony no. 43 "Mercury"
    9. Symphony no. 101 "The Clock"
    10. Symphony no. 31 "Horn Signal"

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    Senior Member D Smith's Avatar
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    I listen to Haydn all the time and have to agree with your point; it would be impossible to remember them all when ranking. But I certainly could tell you which ones I like to listen to the most, which is a favourites as opposed to a best list.

    I read that article too and found it entertaining.
    Last edited by D Smith; Jan-23-2020 at 21:58. Reason: spelling

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    Senior Member SONNET CLV's Avatar
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    How to Determine the Best of Haydn's Symphonies?

    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    ... How should we go about this? ...

    Simple, really. The trick is to utilize a roulette-like wheel numbered 1 to 104. Want the best symphony? Spin the wheel and see where it stops on the pin. Works every time. Believe me. I'm a big Hadyn fan.

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    Senior Member Kjetil Heggelund's Avatar
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    Today hasn't been the best day for the best Haydn symphony. I didn't hear any...A while ago I listened to the ones in a minor-key and loved them all!

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    Senior Member Fabulin's Avatar
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    the latest are the greatest

    I liked the 104th in particular, and the 82nd has that great allegretto
    Last edited by Fabulin; Jan-24-2020 at 01:31.

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    Senior Member Bulldog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabulin View Post
    I liked the 104th in particular, and the 82nd has that great allegretto
    As it happens, my two favorites are 82 and 104.

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    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    OK, how about a different approach: If you're gearing up to listen to Haydn symphonies, and you have to choose one "decade" (i.e. 10s, 20s, 30s, etc.) which one do you go for?

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    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    Another question I have of more experienced Haydn-heads is: which of the second movements do you think is best? I find many of his symphonies losing steam in the 2nd.

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    Senior Member Oldhoosierdude's Avatar
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    Put them all on a device in mp3 or flac or whatever. Hit the shuffle on the player then go crazy.
    I don't live in the past,
    there's no future in it.

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    Senior Member MatthewWeflen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldhoosierdude View Post
    Put them all on a device in mp3 or flac or whatever. Hit the shuffle on the player then go crazy.
    I do have the entire set on one player. I would never hit shuffle, though. I like to listen to symphonies intact.

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    Senior Member StDior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    Another question I have of more experienced Haydn-heads is: which of the second movements do you think is best? I find many of his symphonies losing steam in the 2nd.
    Not so experienced as I do not know all Haydn symphonies, but among which I know and comparing only the second movements, the No.102 symphony’s slow second movement is my favorite. I recommend listening to it in more versions, as some versions play too fast it.

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    ^^If I were going to rank the 104 (there are actually more), I would also put 102 at the top of the list - that Finale is one of the most clever, witty things he wrote. Ranking the others is impossible - they're all wonderful in their own way.

    Orchestras by and large don't play enough Haydn anymore, and in the case of amateur orchestras it's a real shame: there is no literature that trains a string section to play better in tune, to phrase the same way, and to use the bow as well as Haydn. Old time orchestra building conductors knew this, but so many young conductors today want to go right to Mahler, Shostakovich and other dazzlers.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Lol, I knew you'd like that article, Matt. Made me laugh too. There's an amusing Mahler article like that online too. Tbh, I couldn't give you a top ten or so at the moment as I've not been listening to Haydn's symphonies lately and I often forget which one is which but I'd day that at least half of Bulldog's list would be in there.
    Last edited by Merl; Jan-24-2020 at 18:02.

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    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    I'm not sure about the value of comparing individual London symphonies with those from much earlier. I'm not even sure about comparing them with individual Paris symphonies. Also, I don't think it is necessary to rank all 104 - choosing the top 50 or 60 and perhaps putting them into some sort of ranked groups might be helpful for some people but once you have gone beyond that do you need to know that one person found 18 several steps better than 9 or 17 better than 50?

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