Haydn – Symphony No 44 in E-minor, “Trauer”

by Max Derrickson

Franz Josef Haydn   (b March 31, 1732 in Rohrau, Austria; d May 31, 1809 in Vienna)


Symphony No 44 in E-minor, “Trauer”

  1. Allegro con brio
  2. Menuetto, Allegretto
  3. Adagio
  4. Finale, Presto


Haydn wrote this magical Symphony in 1770 or 1771, during an era in Classical music called “Sturm und Drang” (Storm and Stress).  The movement was wrought out of Rousseau’s Enlightenment philosophies that sought to heighten expression to greater freedom by exploring tension and emotionality.  Haydn, ever the experimenter, captured it exactly in his first symphonic try with this, his Symphony No. 44.  Particularly lovely is the Adagio, from which the Symphony got its nickname Trauer (Mourning, or Weeping).  This apparently, however, not because of its portrayal of sadness – it’s more reflective and gentle than the other movements — but because of the story that Haydn asked it to be played at his funeral.  The entire Symphony, written in a minor key, with its intense and driving outer movements and its emotional gravitas, is one of Haydn’s first incomparably great masterpieces, and is one of the first in the line of works that eventually ushered in the Romantic period.