Haydn - Andante (Surprise Symphony)


This Andante is taken from Haydn's Symphony No 94 in G.

The symphony became known as the 'Surprise Symphony' due to the sudden, loud chord for full orchestra that appears to have been intended to wake up the sleepy audience to make them pay attention to the music!

You may listen to the orchestral version here:

Pupil Match & Suitability

This piece is mostly uncomplicated, lying well under the hands and it features easy-to-remember patterns typical of the excellent writing of Alan Bullard, who arranged the music.

There is a requirement to bring out the LH in Bars 9 - 16, keeping the RH quieter.

The third line is more challenging, particularly Bar 19 where there is more movement in each hand.

Style & Tempo

The style is that of a graceful, Classical andante, but with the addition of the rather humorous loud chord in Bar 16.

A pace of crotchet = 69 is ideal - notice that the pace is virtually the same as that of the orchestral version heard in the Background section.

Phrasing & Articulation

The phrasing reflects the Classical style, falling clearly into four-bar units throughout.

Articulation needs to be gently detached unless slurring is indicated and care should be taken to make the quavers shorter in staccato than the crotchets, which should be held for their full value, as heard here.

Tone & Texture

The tone needs to be gentle throughout the first section, with grading to shape the phrases, shown by a slight crescendo into the phrase and a diminuendo towards the end.

The chord in Bar 16 should be suddenly loud for maximum effect. Remember to hold it for the full length plus a pause, as heard here.

Notice that the hands need to be balanced so that the melody sings out with the chords kept quieter and special care will have to be taken to achieve this when the tune is in the LH.

A bold crescendo will help to give a satisfying end to the piece in the final line. The tone should never be forced however, reaching only forte here, not fortissimo.


This piece needs the technique to play staccato and to slur pairs of notes.

Positioning the hands sufficiently high over the keys then dropping the fingers with a flexible wrist 'pecking' action will help with articulating the notes cleanly.

If the hand is too low with the fingers resting on the keys, each finger has to be lifted before the notes are played and unhelpful tension will be produced.

Slurred pairs need a drop of the wrist on the first note before 'floating off' the second note.


The fingering shown works very well - notice how cleverly the hands use the same fingering as if in a mirror in Bars 21 - 22, making these bars easier to negotiate.


Pedalling is not needed nor expected in this piece.

Teaching Strategies

It is a good idea to begin by identifying the patterns, for example Bars 1 - 2 are a rising C major broken chord, followed by a descending G7 broken chord in Bars 3 - 4.

Looking at the visual image that these notes make on the keys - a play-one-miss-one-play-one pattern is easy to memorise.

Notice the scale in Bar 18 followed by a kind of descending scale in the next bar.

Practice Tips

Practice needs to follow the template created in the lesson - in other words whatever is done in the lesson should be replicated every day at home.

Separate hands practice is essential at first and the parts should be equally well known before slow hands together practice is begun.

The required articulation should be used right from the start, not added when the notes and rhythms are known.


The troublesome line is going to be Line 3 since this is more complex in texture as well as having more LH movement at the same time as the RH plays the tune.

Starting with this line and having it memorised before the rest of the piece is learned can make this section secure and fluent instead of it being the place where every performance goes wrong.

Final Performance

Haydn Andante - Grade 1 Level

An excellent performance will show the elegance of the music and yet give an element of surprise when the loud chord is played. Fluency will be assured throughout, not just in the first section and there will be dynamic variety as well as careful balance between hands.

A good performance will be secure in notes and rhythms, with some sense of character and detached articulation. Although the phrasing may not always be well shaped, the pulse will be steady and there will be contrast in dynamics.

A secure performance will show well known notes and rhythms despite, perhaps, a lack of tonal and rhythmic evenness. Line 3 may be taken cautiously but continuity will be basically reliable with few slips. A little detail may be evident and the 'surprise' chord will be played loudly.

^ Top