By Franz Joseph Haydn
Composed in 1794
In 1790, just two months after the death of Haydn’s employer, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy (for whom Haydn served for more than 40 years, with only brief interruptions), the violinist and impresario Johann Peter Salomon arrived in Vienna to convince Haydn to travel with him to London.
Haydn, now without permanent work and living as a freelance artist, agreed and made the first of two visits to London, composing six symphonies for this event. He paid a second visit for the 1794/1795 season, and again the principal event was a series of concerts with six new symphonies.
In contrast to his small orchestra at the Esterházy estate, the London orchestra of Salomon was a full-sized orchestra, providing Haydn with new possibilities. As a result, he composed the 12 symphonies (nos. 93-104) that count among the best he had ever written: The London Symphonies.
When Haydn finally returned to Vienna, in 1795, it was as a financially and artistically successful composer.
First performed in 1794, Symphony No. 101 is part of these famous London Symphonies, composed for his second stay in London. The second movement is responsible for the symphony’s nickname, “The Clock”: you can hear the clock-like tick-tack, introduced by the bassoons and string pizzicato, throughout the movement.