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Octet in F Major

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Franz Joseph Haydn

Franz Joseph Haydn

This work bears the designation Hob. II: F7.

General Info

Year: 1802
Duration: c. 16:35
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: International Music Corp.
Cost: Score and Parts – $16.50


1. Allegro moderato – 5:00
2. Andante con Variazioni – 6:25
3. Menuetto—Allegretto – 3:45
4. Finale—Allegro – 2:25


Full Score
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
Horn in F I-II


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The instrumental genre known as Harmoniemusik experienced a “golden era” in the period from 1775 to 1825, as European aristocrats hired wind players -- typically pairs of oboes, clarinets, horns, and bassoons -- to serve their courts. Although the repertoire primarily consisted of transcriptions from popular operas performed as dinner entertainment (Tafelmusik), many prominent composers -- including Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven -- also composed original works for this ensemble. Original compositions in the form of simple suites were given titles such as Partita and Divertimento. Compositions that more closely followed the formal outlines of the emerging symphony were often labeled serenades, a term derived from the Latin for “late” and Italian for “evening.” Titles like “Octet” simply reflected the instrumental forces involved.

There is significant scholarly debate over the Octet in F Major’s attribution to Franz Joseph Haydn. H. C. Robbins Landon, a leading Haydn scholar, attributes the work to one of the Wranitzky brothers, Paul or Anton, both of whom were Haydn’s close friends. Paul Wranitzky was a famous composer in his own right during the end of the eighteenth century, and there is no doubt that he was heavily influenced by “Papa” Haydn. Since no autograph score is available, the authenticity question remains unsolved, although the harmonic language of this work underscores the likelihood that Haydn did not compose it.

The four-movement Octet begins with a movement in sonata form, characteristic of other works in the serenade genre. The second movement is a theme and variations, which allows the musicians to exhibit a wide range of expressive and technical capabilities. The ornamented theme is heard in the clarinet, and then wends its way through the bassoon, clarinet, and oboe, establishing a different mood and a unique timbre, in each variation. Such a showcase for the musicians would have been appreciated by the court, as well as by the players who were allowed to demonstrate their remarkable abilities. The third movement is a standard minuet with two trios. The fourth movement is in rondo form, as often is the case for finales in the more serious genre of the symphony. The work closes with a return of material from the opening movement, which is uncommon in Haydn (and a practice not common until Beethoven), which enhances the work’s structural cohesion.

No matter who wrote this delightful piece, it is a wonderful example of the elegance and charm of music written for wind instruments during the “golden era” of Harmoniemusik.

- Program Note from University of Michigan Symphony Band concert program, 20 October 2017


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Chamber Winds (Kevin Michael Holzman, conductor) - 26 October 2021
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) – 20 October 2017
  • Trinity Chamber Players (Cleveland, Ohio) – 30 March 2011

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

  • Menuetto (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Glover) (1795/2019)
  • Trumpet Concerto (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Ring) (1796/2021)

All Wind Works