Haydn's Symphony No. 94 in G major, which was first performed on
23 March 1792, testifies to the composer's marked sense of musical fun. In
a parody of the conventional practice of the time, the second movement
proceeds at a slow, measured pace which sends the listener almost to sleep,
only to be rudely awakened by a sudden loud stroke of the timpani. This
touch of mockery is typical of the composer's roguish sense of humor. Haydn
told his biographer Gieringer that his principle motive for writing the
symphony was the wish to put his pupil and rival Ignaz Pleyel firmly in his
place - an aim in which he undoubtedly succeeded.
Leonard Bernstein began conducting Haydn's orchestral works when he was
still Music Director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Since then,
his interpretations of the symphonies have consistently met with unreserved
critical acclaim. He, of all conductors, possessed precisely the qualities
which Haydn's music requires: grace, charm and a generous measure of wit.
This production with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra was recorded