Franz Josef Haydn's
           Symphony N°. 45 in f# minor
           the "Farewell"

  1. Allegro assai
  2. Adagio
  3. Menuet: Allegretto
  4. Finale: Presto - Adagio
    Scored for strings (violin I and II, viola, cello and double bass), two horns, two oboes, and bassoon.

The 45th of Joe Haydn's 106 symphonies was composed for his patron Prince Nikolaus Esterházy in 1772.  A performance lasts about 25 minutes.  

The "Farewell" symphony, in keeping with a number of Haydn's other well-known works, owes its nickname to a bit of surrealist theatrics written into the music:  in the slow, graceful coda of the final movement (which was itself a startling anticlimax - wrapping up a symphony quietly was still mostly unheard of when Tchaikovsky's 6th premiered in 1893), small pockets of musicians taper off, stop playing, pinch out their candles and get up and leave - as if too exhausted to continue. Bits of orchestra continue to flake away (as marked "si parte" in their music) until only two violinists remain, who valiantly play through to their final strains.  They then pinch out their candles and get up and leave.

The stunt was a hint-hint to Prince Nikolaus, who had kept his Hofkapellmeister and court orchestra at the royal summer palace - and away from their wives - longer than expected.  They were allowed to go home the following day.

These days, outside its original context, the "Farewell" is still immensely popular. It enjoys frequent performances and recordings, and fits comfortably among Haydn's best symphonies even disregarding the punchline.  You may have heard it last at the Vienna Philharmonic's 2009 New Year's Concert, with Daniel Barenboim conducting: poor Daniel seems, as he is progressively abandoned before a worldwide audience of millions, more than a bit distraught.

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