Op. 20: the anatomy of a fugue

One of Haydn’s solutions, in op. 20, to the ‘balance problems’ posed by the finales of opp. 9 & 17 was interesting one: he (re)turned, in three of these six quartets – the finales of nos. 2, 5 and 6 – to the Baroque and (his interpretation of) the ‘old-fashioned’ form of the fugue (the influence of Baroque style counterpoint is also to be felt elsewhere in these works, the quasi fugal openings of quartets 1 and 2, for instance).

This week we’ll look at and listen to one of these fugal finales (op. 20, no.5) whilst continuing to explore…

…this bewilderingly complex, bold and multi-faceted group of works.

Robbins Langdon, Haydn Chronicle and Works


Haydn describes the last movement of his op. 20, f quartet as a Fuga a due Soggetti (Fugue with two Subjects) meaning that the movement is based on two themes, rather than the more usual one; this is generally known as a double fugue. The two fugal subjects are introduced by the second violin and the viola:


 Op. 20 No. 5, f – 4. Finale
Haydn: The Complete String Quartets – Aeolian String Quartet
Aeolian String Quartet
Int. Release 27 Apr. 2009
22 CDs / Download
CD ADD 0289 478 1267 8 DX 22

Listen to the entire quartet:


Header image: Prince Anton Esterházy (1738-1794)


To view the score of Op. 20 No. 5 without downloading click below
Op. 20 No. 5

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