Subject: Composer Study: Symphony No. 94 by Joseph Haydn
Supplies: None
Recommended Time: 20 minutes

Set Up:
Consider what space, posture, habits will help us to give full attention with our body as we share in this lesson together. You might brainstorm ideas as a family and set goals to help everyone flourish during this time.

We teach this lesson for Composer Study in First Grade and often this becomes the most famous lesson of the entire year! Our hope is that you find appreciation in the beautiful music composed as well as some laughter. We think Joseph Haydn would be happy with that response!

Joseph Haydn is a famous Austrian composer who is often called, “Father of the Symphony.” He is recognized worldwide as a lead contributor in the development of the string quartet (music played with two violins, a viola, and a cello). Haydn was a friend to Mozart and a teacher to Beethoven. Growing up, Joseph was known for having a good sense of humor, which sometimes led him into mischief. Today we are going to listen to one of his most celebrated pieces, Symphony No. 94 which is also called the “Surprise” Symphony. We will listen to the second movement. This first time through, pay attention to why you think this symphony is called “Surprise.” You may stop the music at 1:00.

The first time you listen, make sure the volume is up, as the movement begins quietly. Everyone can sit still, so as not to distract from the song. Be sure to listen for why you think this is called “Surprise!”


  • After listening to the first minute of the song, why do you think it was coined the “Surprise” symphony?
  • What does this music tell us about Joseph Haydn and his sense of humor?
  • What about this movement did you find beautiful?
  • Ask if anyone would like to sing back or hum the melody they heard.

A part of the reason Joseph Haydn decided to write this movement was because many of the noble women who came to listen to his symphonies while he was in London, would begin to fall asleep during the second movement. This bothered Haydn and so he decided to give them a wake up call! You can imagine how shocked they were when after a few measures of peaceful, soft music a loud chord was played!

  • How did Haydn use dynamics (how loud or soft something is) in a mischievous way?

Listen to the song again. This time, everyone can pretend they are asleep. When you hear the loud chord played, wake up, shocked! Let the song play through the entire movement to become more familiar with the melody, or restart it and let it surprise you again!

  • What did you find beautiful about Joseph Haydn’s second movement in his “Surprise” Symphony, No. 94?