While the slow movement of a later eighteenth-century instrumental cycle tended to generate less focused formal expectations than its companions, because there were so many options for its design, this was not the case with regard to expression. The relative slowing of tempo and pulse brought certain associations that have remained quite stable through to the present day. The broad expectation is that such a movement will provide such qualities as warmth, lyricism, and gravity, that it will tend to suggest reflection rather than action. There is plenty of evidence that this expectation was shared by listeners of Haydn's day. However, Haydn's own slow movements do not always seem to fit this bill. In his critique of 1776, Carl ludwig Junker specifically named the composer's Adagios in connection with what he termed Haydn's "eccentricity" and "whimsy" (Laune).
That the perception of such attributes in a slow movement was particularly problematic is evident from Junker's critique, and this has proved to be a continuing difficulty in Haydn reception. In some of the composer's symphonic slow movements from the 1770s, we encounter a manner that is not necessarily humorous or volatile but is rather characterized by unusual gestures or oddly timed events. These produce an expressive ambivalence that is in fact one of the strongest attributes of Haydn's art. This is explored with reference to the slow movements of Symphonies nos. 42, 52, 55, 64, and 67.
- ©© 2010 by the Virginia Allan Detloff Library, C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco