A Bear of a Symphony by Haydn: No. 82 in C

Brown Bear in Norway(Photo: Wikipedia)
Brown Bear in Norway(Photo: Wikipedia)

This evening on Symphony @ 7 we have a “bear” of a symphony by Franz Joseph Haydn–a dancing bear, that is.   His Symphony No. 82 in C is nicknamed “The Bear.”  It’s one of the six “Paris” symphonies (Nos. 82-87), first performed in that city in 1787.

Next to the twelve “London” symphonies, composed for concerts in that city in the 1790′s, the ones for Paris are his grandest.  They were written for a large orchestra and presented by the ” Concerts de la Loge Olympique,” which was led by the famous composer, violinist Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.

Symphony No. 82 acquired its nickname sometime later, but it’s thought that perhaps the drone-like bass in the finale may have reminded some people of a dancing bear moving to the sound of a hurdy-gurdy being played by its keeper, perhaps at a street fair.

You can decide for yourself from this excerpt from the complete symphony, or tune in for Symphony @ 7 on Classical 101.