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The Symphony in G, H. 1/94 is the second of the twelve so-called London symphonies written by Joseph Haydn. It is popularly known as the Surprise Symphony. Haydn wrote the symphony in 1791 and it premiered the following year. The Surprise Symphony is scored for a Classical-era orchestra consisting of two each of flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets, plus timpani, and the usual string section consisting of violins (first and second), violas, cellos, and double basses. A typical performance lasts about 23 minutes. Haydn's body of work contains many jokes, and the Surprise Symphony includes probably the most famous of all: a sudden fortissimo chord at the end of the otherwise 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. Haydn was interested in presenting the public with something new and atypical. The symphony is still popular today, and is frequently performed and recorded.
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