Joseph Haydn’s music contains many jokes, and the Surprise Symphony includes probably the most famous of all: a sudden very loud (fortissimo chord) at the end of the otherwise soft (piano) opening theme in the variation-form second movement. The music then returns to its original quiet dynamic, as if nothing had happened, and the ensuing variations do not repeat the joke. (In German it is commonly referred to as the Symphony “mit dem Paukenschlag”—”with the kettledrum stroke”).
In Haydn’s old age, his biographer George August Griesinger asked him whether he wrote this “surprise” to awaken the audience. Haydn replied:
No, but I was interested in surprising the public with something new, and in making a brilliant debut, so that my student Pleyel, who was at that time engaged by an orchestra in London (in 1792) and whose concerts had opened a week before mine, should not outdo me. The first Allegro of my symphony had already met with countless Bravos, but the enthusiasm reached its highest peak at the Andante with the Drum Stroke. Encore! Encore! sounded in every throat, and Pleyel himself complimented me on my idea.
The first time I saw this video during a piano lesson, both my students and I were surprised, too!
The melody is pretty basic and sometimes used to teach skips. I remember having it in one of my first books with words similar to See the Happy Little Frog, Hopping now from Log to Log.
Here’s a piano version.
Can you find the “surprise” indicated by the sforzando? Hint. It looks like this: Sforzando is one of those Italian words you get to learn in music and means a strong, sudden accent on a note or chord. Sforzando literally means subito forzando (fz), which translates to “suddenly with force.”
There’s some information about Haydn and this symphony in this video.
Beethoven’s Wig added some words
For 2 pianos, 8 hands. They’ve added their own surprise around minute 3.
• 1974 ~ William DeVaughn, a soul singer, songwriter and guitarist from Washington, DC, received a gold record for his only hit, Be Thankful for What You Got.
• 1976 ~ Ear doctors didn’t have to drum up business this day. There were plenty of walk-ins as The Who put out a total of 76,000 watts of power at 120 decibels. They played the loudest concert anyone had ever heard, making it into “The Guinness Book of World Records”.
• 1977 ~ “Beatlemania” opened at Winter Garden Theater NYC for 920 performances
• 1989 ~ First presentation of rock n roll Elvis awards
• 1994 ~ Herva Nelli, Soprano, died at the age of 85
. 1996 ~ Normani Kordei Hamilton. Known simply as Normani, the talented singer and dancer gained fame as part of the group Fifth Harmony, who were formed in 2012 on the American version of X-Factor, a television singing competition. The group ended up in third place on the competition show but went on to achieve commercial success. In 2018 the group split and Normani began her solo career. Her first solo single “Motivation” reached the US Top 40 and was certified platinum. Normani has also collaborated with notable musicians Calvin Harris, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Sam Smith, and Megan Thee Stallion.
• 1997 ~ “Once Upon a Mattress,” closed at Broadhurst Theater NYC after 187 performances.
• 2002 ~ Mario Lago, an influential composer, actor and political dissident, died of lung failure. He was 90. Throughout a multifaceted career, Lago wrote more than 200 popular songs and appeared in 20 films and more than 30 telenovelas, Brazil’s version of television soap operas. He was also an active member of Brazil’s Communist Party, and was imprisoned six times during Brazil’s 1964-86 military regime. One of Lago’s most successful songs, Amelia, sang the praises of a woman happy with very little from her husband. The name came to signify a submissive woman in Brazilian slang. Lago continued acting until January, 2002 when he was hospitalized for a month with emphysema.
. 1886 ~ Enrique Granados, Spanish pianist and composer, performed his debut piano concert in Barcelona.
. 1888 ~ Sol Hurok, Impresario
1890 ~ Efram Zimbalist, Russian-born American violinist and composer
More information about Zimbalist
. 1898 ~ Paul Robeson, American bass. Known for his sympathy for Russia he had his passport revoked for many years. The song Ole Man River, whose words he changed to fit his views, became his signature song.
. 1906 ~ Antal Dorati, Hungarian-born American conductor and composer. He was the first conductor to record all of Haydn’s symphonies.
. 1932 ~ Carl Perkins, early American rock ‘n’ roll figure who originally recorded Blue Suede Shoes. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987
. 1940 ~ Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra, along with singer Helen O’Connell, recorded Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga for Decca Records.
. 1950 ~ Bob Hope hosted a Star-Spangled Review on NBC-TV. Hope became the highest- paid performer for a single show on TV. The Star-Spangled Review was a musical special.
. 1970 ~ Paul McCartney sought a High Court writ to wind up the Beatles business partnership, effectively ending the group’s career.
. 1977 ~ The Swedish pop group Abba made its debut at number one on the American pop charts, as Dancing Queen became the most popular record in the U.S.
. 1988 ~ Brook Benton passed away. He was an American singer and songwriter who was popular with rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and pop music audiences.
. 2001 ~ Graziella Sciutti, an Italian soprano and opera director best known for her interpretations of Mozart, died at the age of 68. Born in Turin, northern Italy, in 1932, Sciutti made her first operatic appearance at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France in 1951. She went on to perform under Herbert von Karajan at Milan’s La Scala. She was lead soprano at a smaller theater at La Scala called La Piccola Scala for eight years from its inception in 1955. She became a member of the Vienna State Opera in 1960 and the following year made her debut in San Francisco in one of her most celebrated roles, as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro. She began her directing career at Covent Garden in London and at the Glyndebourne Festival in England, where she directed and performed in Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine in 1977. She then went on to direct in Canada and for the opera companies in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Dallas and Miami, as well as in Britain, Germany and Italy. She joined London’s Royal College of Music in the mid 1980s and continued to teach there until shortly before her death.
. 1732 ~ Franz Joseph Haydn, Austrian composer
Listen to Haydn’s music
More information about Haydn
. 1872 ~ Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev. He was a Russian art critic, patron, ballet impresario and founder of the Ballets Russes.
. 1880 ~ Henryk Wieniawski, Polish violist/composer, died at the age of 44
. 1901 ~ John Stainer died. He was an English composer and organist whose music, though not generally much performed today, was very popular during his lifetime.
. 1922 ~ Richard Kiley, American actor and singer (Kismet, Man of La Mancha, Endless Love)
. 1928 ~ Lefty (William Orville) Frizzell, Country Music Hall of Famer
. 1934 ~ Shirley Jones, Singer, actress
. 1935 ~ Herb Alpert, American trumpeter, bandleader (Tijuana Brass), composer, record company executive: the “A” of A&M Records
. 1937 ~ Phil Harris recorded one of his best-known songs in Los Angeles, CA. That’s What I Like About the South was recorded on a 78 RPM disk. Harris would move to TV stardom and continue as a popular vocalist during the 1950s with such hit songs as The Thing.
. 1943 ~ The show, Away We Go, was renamed. The show opened at the St. James Theatre in New York City and, thanks to the talents of stars like Alfred Drake, Joan Roberts and Howard DeSilva, it became an instant hit. The show ran for 2,248 performances, until 1948. The musical, which has grossed millions of dollars on stage and as a blockbuster movie was initially produced for the sum of $75,000. It is still legendary among musical productions – especially after it was retitled Oklahoma!
. 1944 ~ Rod Allen (Rodney Bainbridge), Bass, singer with The Fortunes
. 1944 ~ Mick Ralphs, Guitarist
. 1945 ~ Al Nichol, Guitarist, keyboards with The Turtles
. 1953 ~ Sean Hopper, Keyboards with Clover and Huey Lewis and The News
. 1959 ~ Angus Young, Guitarist with AC/DC
. 1967 ~ Jimi Hendrix burned his guitar for the first time in a public performance at Finsbury Park in London.
. 1985 ~ Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, long a favorite of country music stars, closed its doors in Nashville, TN.
. 1699 ~ Johann Adolph Hasse, German composer, singer and teacher of music. Immensely popular in his time, Hasse was best known for his prolific operatic output, though he also composed a considerable quantity of sacred music.
. 1784 ~ François-Joseph Fetis, Belgian musicologist, composer, teacher, and influential music critic.
. 1851 ~ The Playel piano factory in Paris was destroyed by fire. Playel was the favorite of Chopin in the 19th century, and it was identified with French composers known as the impressionist musicians of the early 20th century — like Ravel and Debussy.
Pleyel was founded in 1807 by Ignaz Pleyel, a composer and music publisher who studied with Franz Joseph Haydn.
. 1867 ~ Arturo Toscanini, Italian conductor and musical director. Famed for his temper in rehearsals, he was director of La Scala and the Metropolitan opera houses. He also conducted the NBC symphony orchestra. With a career spanned 68 years, he was a cellist at age 19
Read quotes by and about Toscanini
More information on Toscanini
. 1881 ~ Béla Bartók, Hungarian composer and pianist, born. His knowledge of western musical techniques allied to the inspiration he derived from Hungarian peasant songs enabled him to become a unique musical force.
More information about Bartók
. 1903 ~ Grammy winner Frankie Carle (Carlone), Pianist and bandleader
. 1913 ~ The Palace Theatre opened its doors in New York City. Ed Wynn was first on the vaudeville bill. Some 20 years later, Wynn would be named as radio’s top entertainer. He later became popular on television, as well.
. 1918 ~ Claude Debussy, French composer, died. His music, described as “musical Impressionism”, explored original avenues of expression.
. 1931 ~ Hal Kemp and his orchestra recorded Whistles, with Skinnay Ennis, for Brunswick Records. Both Kemp and Ennis sang in the Dorsey Brothers Concert Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Eugene Ormandy (later, conductor of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra). The pair were part of the orchestra vocal quartet that also featured Nye Mayhew and Saxey Dowell in 1928.
. 1934 ~ Johnny Burnette, ‘The Master’, singer, brother of singer Dorsey Burnette
. 1938 ~ Hoyt Axton, Singer, musician and songwriter. Axton’s mother, Mae Boren Axton, wrote Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel
. 1940 ~ Anita Bryant, Singer
. 1942 ~ Aretha Franklin, American soul singer, known as the “Queen of Soul” and “Lady Soul”, she won 15 Grammy Awards and was the first woman inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987)
. 1947 ~ Elton John (Reginald Kenneth Dwight). English singer-songwriter, composer and pianist who has had hits in the charts since 1970 with his first hit “Your Song”, Over the next 40 years he had a large number of hits with the last being in 2009 “Tiny Dancer (Hold Me Closer)” (Ironik featuring Elton John). Possibly his best known top ten singles over the 40 year period include “Rocket Man”, “Crocodile Rock”, “Daniel”, “Candle in the Wind”, “Bennie and the Jets”, “Pinball Wizard”, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (with Kiki Dee), “I’m Still Standing” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”. It does not matter which generation you are from you have more than likely grown up listening to his music . Billboard magazine ranked him as the most successful male solo artist on “The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists” (Third overall, behind only The Beatles and Madonna). The awards he has gained during these years is also a testament to his music and include Academy Award, Golden Globe, Tony Award and multiple Grammys. From humble beginnings as a Pub Pianist to one of the music superstars of the modern era shows not only his talent but his commitment to his art.
More information about John
. 1948 ~ Kelly Garrett, Actress, singer
. 1949 ~ Neil Jones, Musician with Amen Corner
. 1951 ~ Maizie Williams, Singer with Boney M
. 1961 ~ “Gypsy” closed at the Broadway Theater in New York City after 702 performances
. 1966 ~ Jeff Healey, Guitarist, singer, songwriter with the Jeff Healey Band, CBC radio show: My Kind of Jazz
. 1971 ~ Tom Jones went gold with his single, She’s a Lady.
. 1971 ~ Louis Armstrong, the famous trumpet player, underwent a temporary tracheotomy after being admitted to a New York hospital. Armstrong had this throat operation after treatment for heart trouble.
. 1972 ~ The group, America, rode to the top of the pop music charts with their LP, America, and the single (included on the LP), A Horse with No Name. A Horse With No Name would be the group’s only gold record.
. 1991 ~ Eileen Joyce, pianist, died at the age of 78
. 1889 ~ Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, American blues guitarist, folk singer and songwriter
. 1891 ~ Mischa Elman, violinist
1894 ~ Walter Hamor Piston, American composer
More information about Piston
. 1899 ~ Alexander Tcherepnin, Composer
. 1922 ~ Ray Anthony (Antonini), Bandleader
. 1926 ~ David Tudor, American pianist and composer of experimental music
. 1935 ~ Buddy Blake (Buddy Cunningham), Recording artist: recorded for Sun Records as B.B. Cunningham and Buddy Blake; record executive: Cover Record Co., Sam Phillips’ Holiday Inn label
. 1941 ~ Ron Townson, Singer with The 5th Dimension
. 1942 ~ Harry Babbitt sang as Kay Kyser and his orchestra recorded, Who Wouldn’tLove You, on Columbia Records. The record went on to be a big hit for Kyser.
. 1947 ~ George Grantham, Drummer with Poco
. 1958 ~ The rock ‘n’ roll classic, Get a Job, by The Silhouettes, was released.
. 1958 ~ Elvis Presley got a little U.S. mail this day with greetings from Uncle Sam. The draft board in Memphis, TN ordered the King to report for duty; but allowed a 60-day deferment for him to finish the film, “King Creole”.
. 1964, The Beatles, a British rock group, released its first LP album, “Meet The Beatles“, in the US record stores. The album turned out to be a super hit and reached #1 position on music charts by early February.
. 1965 ~ John Michael Montgomery, Country singer
. 1965 ~ Alan Freed, the ‘Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, died in Palm Springs, CA. Freed was one of the first radio disc jockeys to program black music, or race music, as it was termed, for white audiences. In the 1950s, Freed, at WJW Radio in Cleveland, coined the phrase, “rock ‘n’ roll,” before moving to WABC in New York. He was fired by WABC for allegedly accepting payola (being paid to play records by certain artists and record companies). The 1959-1960 congressional investigation into payola made Freed the scapegoat for what was a widespread practice. Freed, not so incidentally, died nearly penniless after the scandal was exposed.
. 2002 ~ Actress, writer and musician Carrie Hamilton, daughter of actress Carol Burnett, died of cancer. She was 38. Hamilton, whose father was the late producer Joe Hamilton, appeared in the television series “Fame” and had guest roles on other shows, including “Murder She Wrote,” “Beverly Hills 90210” and “thirtysomething.” She also starred in television movies. She and her mother collaborated on a stage version of Burnett’s best-selling memoir “One More Time.” The resulting play, “Hollywood Arms,” will have its world premiere in Chicago in April, said Burnett’s publicist, Deborah Kelman. Hamilton spoke publicly in the ’80s about her struggles with addiction and her decision to go drug-free. She starred as Maureen in the first national touring version of the musical “Rent” and wrote and directed short films through the profit-sharing production company Namethkuf. She won “The Women in Film Award” at the 2001 Latino Film Festival for her short film “Lunchtime Thomas.”
. 2002 ~ John Jackson, who went from gravedigger to one of the pre-eminent blues musicians in the country, died from kidney failure. He was 77. During his long career, Jackson played for presidents and in 68 countries. Jackson earned a living as a cook, a butler, a chauffeur and a gravedigger before his music career took off. He was playing guitar for some friends at a gas station in Fairfax in 1964 when Charles L. Perdue, who teaches folklore at the University of Virginia, pulled in to get some gas. He listened as Jackson taught a song to a mailman he knew. He and Jackson became friends, and Perdue eventually helped launch Jackson’s career by introducing him to people in the music business. The seventh son of 14 children, Jackson had just three months’ education at the first-grade level. But he earned the admiration of fans from all walks of life around the world. B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt and Pete Seeger are among the performers he has played with and befriended. Among his numerous awards is the National Endowment for the Arts’ Heritage Fellowship Award, which he received in 1986.
On January 18, 1958 Leonard Bernstein began presenting his television series What does music mean? The series ran for 53 programs. Some of the episodes can be found below:
Part 1 What is Classical Music?
Plot: Bernstein conducts Handel’s Water Music and cites it as an indisputable example of classical music. “Exact” is the word that best defines classical music, Bernstein says and he demonstrates with musical illustrations from Bach’s Fourth Brandenburg Concerto, Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 in C Major and The Marriage of Figaro, and Haydn’s Symphony No. 102.
The decline of classical music at the end of the eighteenth century is tied to Beethoven’s innovations and the Romantic movement, and Bernstein conducts Beethoven’s Egmont Overture.
Part 2 What is Melody?
Plot: Bernstein discusses the different forms melody can take, including tune, theme, motive, melodic line and musical phrase. He illustrates by conducting the orchestra in excerpts from Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Hindemith, and Brahms.
Part 3 What is a Mode?
Plot: Bernstein discusses scales, intervals, and tones, and analyzes several pieces, including Debussy’s Fêtes, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, and music from the Kinks and the Beatles, to illustrate different modes.
An excerpt from Bernstein’s ballet Fancy Free is also performed.
The final movement is the best known part of the symphony, thanks to its use in the Julia Roberts movie, Sleeping With The Enemy. It features a four-part structure, which Hector Berlioz described in his own program notes from 1845 as follows:
“He sees himself at a witches’ Sabbath, in the midst of a hideous gathering of shades, sorcerers and monsters of every kind who have come together for his funeral. Strange sounds, groans, outbursts of laughter; distant shouts which seem to be answered by more shouts. The beloved melody appears once more, but has now lost its noble and shy character; it is now no more than a vulgar dance tune, trivial and grotesque: it is she who is coming to the Sabbath… Roar of delight at her arrival… She joins the diabolical orgy… The funeral knell tolls, burlesque parody of the Dies irae, the dance of the witches. The dance of the witches combined with the Dies irae.”
The Dies irae melody is one of the most-quoted in musical literature, appearing in the works of many diverse composers.
The traditional Gregorian melody has also been used as a theme or musical quotation in a number of classical compositions, notable among them:
Although not technically a “halloween piece” this very old Gregorian Chant (from the 300s!) is used in a lot of music that sounds spooky. Dies Irae is a Latin term that means “Day of Wrath”.
The words of Dies irae have often been set to music as part of a Requiem service. In some settings, it is broken up into several movements; in such cases, Dies irae refers only to the first of these movements.
The traditional Gregorian melody has been used as a theme or musical quotation in many classical compositions, film scores, and popular works, including:
Marc-Antoine Charpentier – Prose des morts – Dies irae H. 12 (1670)
• 1941 ~ Fry Me Cookie, with a Can of Lard was recorded by the Will Bradley Orchestra on Columbia. Ray McKinley was featured.
• 1942 ~ Dave Lovelady, Drummer with The Fourmost
• 1943 ~ C.F. (Fred) Turner, Musician with Bachman~Turner Overdrive
• 1947 ~ Bob Weir (Hall), American rock guitarist and singer with The Grateful Dead
• 1953 ~ Tony Carey, Keyboards with Rainbow
• 1959 ~ Gary Kemp, Guitarist with Spandau Ballet, brother of musician Martin Kemp
• 1969 ~ Wendy Wilson, Singer with Wilson Phillips, daughter of Beach Boys singer, Brian Wilson
• 1972 ~ John C. Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival called it a career … and the group disbanded. Fogerty continued in a solo career with big hits including, Centerfield and The Old Man Down the Road.
• 1976 ~ Memphis, TN disc jockey Rick Dees and his ‘Cast of Idiots’ made it all the way to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with the immortal Disco Duck(Part 1). Dees is still around, but not as a recording artist. He’s a DJ in Los Angeles and is hosting several varieties of the Weekly Top 40 show, syndicated around the world.
• 1983 ~ George Liberace passed away. He was an American musician and television performer. Born in Menasha, Wisconsin, he was the elder brother and business partner of famed U.S. pianist Liberace.
• 1990 ~ Art Blakey passed away. He was an American jazz drummer and bandleader.
• 2000 ~ David Golub, American pianist and chamber music conductor, passed away at the age of 50. Born in Chicago, Golub grew up in Dallas, where he began learning the piano. In 1969 he moved to New York and spent his student years honing his technique at New York’s Juilliard School of Music. He also began conducting during summer breaks at Vermont’s Marlboro festival. In 1979, he accompanied violinist Isaac Stern on a tour of China. A film about the tour, “From Mao to Mozart,” won the 1980 Academy Award for Best Documentary. As a performer, Golub was perhaps best known for his work with violinist MarkKaplan and cellist Colin Carr in the trio they formed in 1982. In the late 1990s, Golub began cultivating his interest in opera. Under his leadership, the Padua Chamber Orchestra recorded some of Haydn’s least-known work for opera. An acclaimed chamber ensemble performer – most notably with the Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio – Golub led the Padua Chamber Orchestra during the 1994-95 season and took it on tour in the United States in 1999. He is survived by his wife, Maria Majno.
• 2001 ~ Oscar-winning composer and lyricist Jay Livingston, whose collaboration with Ray Evans led to such hits as Silver Bells, Que Sera, Sera and MonaLisa, died of pneumonia. He was 86. Livingston’s songwriting partnership with Evans spanned 64 years. Often called the last of the great songwriters, Livingston and Evans had seven Academy Award nominations and won three – in 1948 for Buttons and Bows in the film The Paleface, in 1950 for Mona Lisa in Captain Carey, USA, and in 1956 for Que Sera, Sera in The Man Who Knew Too Much. They wrote the television theme songs for Bonanza and Mr. Ed, and were honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for the most performed music for film and TV for 1996. Livingston was born on March 28, 1915, in the Pittsburgh suburb of McDonald. He met Evans in 1937 at the University of Pennsylvania, where they were both students. The team’s final project was the recording, Michael Feinstein Sings the Livingston and Evans Song Book, due for 2002 release.