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Haydn First and Last

We open our 2023 / 24 season with a concert framed by symphonies from the beginning and end of Haydn’s career, tracing his passage from young trailblazer to the most famous composer in the world.  
London, Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall £15 - £59 (Premium £78) Book now



The Representation of Chaos from The Creation
Symphony No. 51
Sinfonia concertante for violin, cello, oboe, bassoon & orchestra
Symphony No. 1
Symphony No. 104 ‘London’

Matthew Truscott violin / director
Jonathan Manson cello
Alexandra Bellamy oboe
Jane Gower bassoon


There will be a pre-concert talk, ‘A beginning, two middles, and an end: Haydn’s symphonic life’ by Dr Robert Samuels from the Open University, at 6.00pm in the Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer.

The symphony numbered as Joseph Haydn’s No. 1 seems to burst into the world the work of a fully-formed creative genius. When he composes his last – four decades and over 100 symphonies later – for his London residency we are left with a body of work of remarkable consistency. Not only are there no gaps or spurious pieces in his catalogue, every one is a creative gem. Tonight’s concert presents a 360 view of Haydn’s music; a universe emerging as if from the big bang with galaxies of energetic runs, glorious arching melodies and dexterous orchestration that appear to exist in both its first and last moments.  

True to the ways of 18th Century concert-going, at the end the encore will be chosen by popular audience vote.  

Haydn’s early career overlaps with the last years of Bach’s life. His burgeoning skills caught the Viennese public’s attention in the opera houses in the 1750s and, more significantly, he came to the notice of a few wealthy patrons giving him regular access to an orchestra. By the 1790s, having spent many years working at the court in Esterhaza, he is the world’s most famous composer – who had been adored by Mozart and hugely influential on the young Beethoven. Haydn is a transitional figure yet his music also came to define an era. 

Part of Southbank Centre Season 2023/24.

Download and read the programme here.