Symphony No. 85 (Haydn)

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Marie Antoinette, the queen for whom the 85th Symphony is nicknamed

The Symphony No. 85 in B major, Hoboken I/85, is the fourth of the six Paris symphonies (numbers 82–87) written by Joseph Haydn. It is popularly known as La Reine (The Queen).


The 85th Symphony was completed in either 1785 or 1786.[1] It made its way to America early on, at first through a keyboard arrangement such as one played by Nelly Custis at the White House.[2]

Nickname (La Reine)[edit]

The nickname La Reine originated because the work was a favorite of Marie Antoinette, at the time Queen of France.[3] It is the only one of the Paris symphonies whose nickname is of 18th-century origin.[4]


The symphony is in standard four movement form and is scored for flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, and strings.

  1. AdagioVivace
  2. Romance: Allegretto
  3. Menuetto: Allegretto
  4. Finale: Presto

The first movement contains a reference to Symphony No. 45.[5] The second movement is described by H. C. Robbins Landon as "a set of variations on the old French folk-song 'La gentille et jeune Lisette';[6] see Haydn and folk music.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robbins Landon 1963, xv
  2. ^ Kirk, 1986, 18
  3. ^ Steinberg (1995, 204)
  4. ^ Bernard Harrison, Haydn: The 'Paris' Symphonies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1998): 101
  5. ^ Harrison, 88
  6. ^ Robbins Landon 1963, xvii


  • Robbins Landon, H. C. (1963) Joseph Haydn: Critical Edition of the Complete Symphonies, Universal Edition, Vienna
  • Steinberg, Michael (1995) The Symphony: A Listeners Guide. Oxford University Press.
  • Harrison, Bernard Haydn: The "Paris" Symphonies (Cambridge University Press, 1998)
  • Kirk, Elise K. Music at the White House: A History of the American Spirit (University of Illinois Press, 1986)