Haydn: Symphony No. 022 in E major, Hob. I/22 “Philosopher”

  • Full Work Name: Symphony No. 022 in E major, Hob. I/22 “Philosopher”
  • Key: E major
  • Form: Symphony
  • Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn
  • Year(s) Published/Written: 1764
  • Period: Classical
  • Catalogue Number: Hob. I/22
  • Work Score: Click Here
Symphony No. 22 in E-flat major, Hoboken I/22, is a symphony written by Joseph Haydn in 1764. Nicknamed “The Philosopher” (“Der Philosoph”), it is the most widely programmed of Haydn’s early symphonies. Haydn composed this symphony during his tenure as assistant Kapellmeister at the court of Prince Nikolaus Eszterházy. Written in 1764, the symphony uses a sonata da chiesa movement layout, although the language of the piece foreshadows the development of classical symphonism. As with other early Haydn symphonies that use this tempo scheme, all of the movements are in the same key. Three of them are in sonata form (the first, second, and fourth) and the remaining third is the customary minuet and trio in ternary form. Origins of the nickname “The Philosopher” As with all the named Haydn symphonies, the title “Philosopher” was not Haydn’s own; it was, however, commonly used in his own lifetime. The title is thought to derive from the melody and counterpoint of the first movement (between the strings and cor anglais), which musically allude to a question followed by an answer and paralleling the disputatio system of debate. The piece’s use of a muted tick-tock effect also evokes the image of a philosopher deep in thought while time passes by.


Like other symphonies composed around this time, the work was written for the small number of players (less than twenty) on retainer at the Esterházy court. The scoring is unusual in its use of two cor anglais (English horns) in place of the more common oboe. The rest of it stays true to convention with two bassoons, horns, timpani, continuo (harpsichord) and strings. The horns play a prominent role in all but the second movement, and Haydn’s choice of E major may have been dictated by the fact that the valveless horns of the time sounded best when played as E instruments (that is, with E crooks inserted).


The symphony is in four movements:
  1. Adagio, 4/4
  2. Presto, 4/4
  3. Menuet e Trio, 3/4
  4. Finale: Presto, 6/8
The first movement is the highlight of the symphony and features horns answered by cors anglais over a walking bass line. H. C. Robbins Landon calls it “surely one of the settecento’s supremely original concepts”. The finale is one of the earliest examples of a “hunting finale” that would later be used in symphonies such as No. 65 and No. 73 “La Chasse”.

Second version

Another version of the piece, well known in Haydn’s time, has three movements with the second movement of the original version coming first, followed by a different movement that is marked andante grazioso in 3/8 and concluding with the same finale as in the original version. The second movement is thought to be spurious, which has led to the belief that this arrangement is not Haydn’s own. H. C. Robbins Landon suggests that this arrangement was likely made to the original composition due to the “strangely original” adagio and the existence of cors anglais, which were not available in many areas. It is precisely these elements that make this symphony so popular, so this version is seldom performed in modern times.

Symphony No. 22 in E major, ‘Philosopher’, Hob. I/22

  • I. Adagio 00:00
  • II. Presto 05:57
  • III. Menuet and Trio 10:03
  • IV. Finale:Presto 13:55Cantilena Adrian Shepherd, director
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