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Haydn’s “Farewell,” “Surprise,” and “Clock”

TIM Ham and Brie tart. 3jpg

By Tim Hazell

Franz Josef Haydn (1732‒1809), alongside Mozart, is considered one of the key composers of the classical period. From 1761, he was Vice-Kapellmeister at the Esterhazy court of Hungary’s wealthiest family, composing pieces for the Prince’s functions and events.

Haydn is regarded as “the father of the symphony and string quartet” because of his prolific output and ways in which he engendered more contemporary forms. He wrote 104 (possibly 106) symphonies and over 80 string quartets and composed an array of choral pieces, piano sonatas, and concertos.

His sense of humor comes to light in the Symphony Number 45 in F-sharp Minor, known as “The Farewell,” written when his orchestra was due a holiday but had to remain at the palace to perform. At the close of the final movement, section by section, the players stop, acknowledge the audience, and leave the stage, until only two violinists remain who stand, bow, and exit. Divining the finale’s underlying message, the Prince granted the musicians their overdue vacation.

Haydn’s inventiveness comes to the fore in his Symphony Number 94, nicknamed the “Surprise.” According to legend, a palace guest remarked that the slower movements of his symphonies were a good opportunity to take a nap. Determined that no one should sleep during his music, the composer introduced a “surprise” at measure sixteen of his second andante movement, when the orchestra joins first violins in a sudden fortissimo G-major chord.

Haydn brought fresh innovations to his music, such as the clarinet in Symphony Number 101 in D major, the ninth of twelve London Symphonies. It is popularly known as “The Clock” because of the ticking rhythm throughout the second movement.

The opus was completed in 1793‒94 for the second of his two visits to London, premiering as part of a concert series organized by colleague Johann Peter Salomon, who also acted as concertmaster. The Morning Chronicle reported; “As usual the most delicious part of the entertainment was a new grand Overture by Haydn; the inexhaustible, the wonderful, the sublime Haydn!”

After he left Vienna for Hungarian employers in the late 1780s, Haydn wrote to a friend that he had lost 20 pounds, thanks to the inferior food: “Alas! thought I to myself, when forced to eat a tough grill instead of a Bohemian pheasant, Hungarian salad instead of good juicy oranges, and dry apple fritters instead of pastry.”

This pastry from Haydn’s era was prepared simply to ensure that its fine ingredients could be appreciated!


Ham and Brie Tart


9-inch pre-baked pastry shell

3 egg yolks

1 cup sour cream

10 oz. brie, sliced

3-4 thick-cut slices ham or prosciutto

1 cup cooked spinach, chopped



Beat egg yolks and sour cream together, and pour over the base of the pastry shell. Arrange brie slices and ham on top. Scatter the spinach over, and season with pepper. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake for 10 minutes or until filling has set. Serve garnished with fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.


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