The Creation (Haydn)

The Creation (Haydn)

The Creation (German: Die Schöpfung) is an oratorio written between 1797 and 1798 by Joseph Haydn (Hob. XXI:2), and considered by many to be his masterpiece. The oratorio depicts and celebrates the creation of the world as described in the Book of Genesis and Paradise Lost. It is scored for soprano, tenor and bass soloists (the soloists representing the archangels Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael, in Part III Adam and Eve), chorus and a symphonic orchestra, and is structured in three parts.


  • Inspiration 1
  • Libretto 2
  • Premiere 3
  • Music 4
    • Scoring 4.1
    • Structure 4.2
    • Part I 4.3
    • Part II 4.4
    • Part III 4.5
  • Selected recordings 5
  • Sources 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Portrait of Joseph Haydn by Johann Carl Rößler (1799)

Haydn was inspired to write a large oratorio during his visits to England in 1791–1792 and 1794–1795, when he heard oratorios of Handel performed by large forces.[1] Israel in Egypt is believed to have been one of these. It is likely that Haydn wanted to try to achieve results of comparable weight, using the musical language of the mature classical style.


The text of The Creation has a long history. The three sources are Genesis, the Biblical book of Psalms, and John Milton's Paradise Lost. In 1795, when Haydn was leaving England, the impresario Johann Peter Salomon (1745–1815) who had arranged his concerts there handed him a new poem entitled The Creation of the World. This original had been offered to Handel, but the old master had not worked on it, as its wordiness meant that it would have been 4 hours in length when set to music. The libretto was probably passed on to Salomon by Thomas Linley Sr. (1733–1795), a Drury Lane oratorio concert director. Linley (sometimes called Lidley or Liddel) himself could have written this original English libretto, but scholarship by Edward Olleson, A. Peter Brown (who prepared a particularly fine "authentic" score) and H. C. Robbins Landon, tells us that the original writer remains anonymous.

Portrait of the librettist Gottfried van Swieten, Austrian politician and librarian

When Haydn returned to Vienna, he turned this libretto over to Baron Gottfried van Swieten.[1] The Baron led a multifaceted career as a diplomat, librarian in charge of the imperial library, amateur musician, and generous patron of music and the arts. He is largely responsible for recasting the English libretto of The Creation in a German translation (Die Schöpfung) that Haydn could use to compose. He also made suggestions to Haydn regarding the setting of individual numbers.

The work was published bilingually (1800) and is still performed in both languages today. Haydn himself preferred the English translation to be used when the work was performed for English-speaking audiences.

For the quotations from the Bible, Swieten chose to adhere very closely to the English King James version. According to Temperley, "the German text corresponds to no known German Bible translation. Instead, it is so constructed that the word order, syllabification, and stress patterns are as close as possible to the English. Haydn and Swieten must have realized that English audiences would not easily accept changes in the hallowed text of their Bible; and there were the formidable precedents of Messiah and Israel in Egypt to bear in mind."[2]

In the final form of the oratorio, the text is structured as recitative passages of the text of Genesis, often set to minimal accompaniment, interspersed with choral and solo passages setting Swieten's original poetry to music. Swieten incorporated excerpt from Psalms for choral movements.[1]

Haydn lived in this large house, then in the suburbs of Vienna while composing The Creation. It is a Haydn museum today.

Van Swieten was evidently not a fully fluent speaker of English, and the metrically-matched English version of the libretto suffers from awkward phrasing that fails to fit idiomatic English text onto Haydn's music. One passage describing the freshly minted Adam’s forehead ended up, “The large and arched front sublime/of wisdom deep declares the seat”. Since publication, numerous attempts at improvement have been made, but many performances in English-speaking countries avoid the problem by performing in the original German. The discussion below quotes the German text as representing van Swieten's best efforts, with fairly literal renderings of the German into English; for the full versions of both texts see the links at the end of this article.


The first performances in 1798 were sponsored by a group of noble citizens, who paid the composer handsomely for the right to stage the premiere (Salomon briefly threatened to sue, on grounds that the English libretto had been translated illegally). The performance was delayed until late April—the parts were not finished until Good Friday—but the completed work was rehearsed before a full audience on April 29.

The first performance the next day was a private affair, but hundreds of people crowded into the street around the old Schwarzenberg Palace at the New Market to hear this eagerly anticipated work. Admission was by invitation only.[1] Those invited included wealthy patrons of the arts, high government officials, prominent composers and musicians, and a sprinkling of the nobility of several countries; the common folk, who would have to wait for later occasions to hear the new work, so crowded the streets near the palace that some 30 special police were needed to keep order. Many of those lucky enough to be inside wrote glowing accounts of the piece. In a letter to the Neue teutsche Merkur, one audience member wrote: "Already three days have passed since that happy evening, and it still sounds in my ears and heart, and my breast is constricted by many emotions even thinking of it."

The old Burgtheater, site of the public premiere

The first public performance at Vienna’s old Burgtheater at the Michaelerplatz on 19 March 1799 was sold out far in advance,[1] and Die Schöpfung was performed nearly forty more times in the city during Haydn’s lifetime. It had its London premiere the next year, in an English translation, at the Covent Garden Theatre. The last performance Haydn attended was on March 27 1808, just a year before he died: the aged and ill Haydn was carried in with great honour on an armchair. According to one account, the audience broke into spontaneous applause at the coming of "light" and "Papa" Haydn, in a typical gesture weakly pointed upwards and said: "Not from me—everything comes from up there!"

Remarkably, The Creation was also performed more than forty times outside Vienna during his lifetime: elsewhere in Austria and Germany, throughout England, and in Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Russia and the United States.

A typical performance lasts about one hour and 45 minutes.


The Creation is composed of three parts, the first two about the Creation as narrated in the Bible, the third depicting Adam and Eve in paradise.[1]


The oratorio is scored for three vocal soloists (soprano (S), tenor (T), and bass (B), with an incidental solo for alto (A) in the finale), four-part chorus (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), and a large Classical orchestra consisting of 3 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, alto, tenor, and bass trombones, timpani, and the usual string sections of first and second violins, violas, cellos, and double basses. For the recitatives a harpsichord or fortepiano is also used.

There seems little doubt that Haydn wanted a big sound (by the standard of his day) for his work. Between the private premieres for nobles and the public premiere in 1799, Haydn added extra instrumental parts to the work. The forces for the public premiere numbered about 120 instrumentalists and 60 singers.

The three soloists represent angels who narrate and comment on the successive six days of creation: Gabriel (soprano), Uriel (tenor), and Raphael (bass). In Part III, the role of Adam is usually sung by the same soloist as sings Raphael, and the roles of Gabriel and Eve are also taken by the same singer (this was the practice Haydn followed); however, some conductors prefer to cast each of the five roles with a different soloist.

The choral singers are employed in a series of monumental choruses, several of them celebrating the end of one particular day of creation.

The orchestra often plays alone, notably in the episodes of tone painting: the appearance of the sun, the creation of various beasts, and above all in the overture, the famous depiction of the Chaos before the creation.


The oratorio is structured in three parts, the first dealing with the Creation of the universe and the planets, the second with the Creation of the animals, and of man and woman, and the third with Adam and Eve in Paradise, showing an idealized love in harmony with the "new world".[1]

The oratorio is described below, for each part by both a table of the movements and description of individual movements.[3] As in other oratorios, the larger musical numbers (arias and choruses) are often prefaced with a brief recitative; here, the recitative gives the actual words of Genesis, while the following number elaborates the bare Biblical narrative in verse. Choral movements are highlighted in a different background colour.

Part I

No. Title Form Voice Key Tempo Time Source Translation
Die Vorstellung des Chaos C minor Largo common time The Representation of Chaos
Day 1
1 Im Anfange schuf Gott Himmel und Erde Recitative Bass C minor common time Gen 1:1–2 In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth
Und der Geist Gottes schwebte[n 1] Chorus Gen 1:2–3 And the Spirit of God moved
Und Gott sah das Licht Recitative Tenor C major Gen 1:4 And God saw the light
2 Nun schwanden vor dem heiligen Strahle Aria Tenor A major Andante common time Now vanished by the holy beams
Erstarrt entflieht der Höllengeister Schar Allegro moderato Affrighted fled hell's spirits
Verzweiflung, Wut und Schrecken Chorus, fugue Desparing, cursing rage
Day 2
3 Und Gott machte das Firmament Recitative secco Bass common time Gen 1:6–7 And God made the firmament
4 Mit Staunen sieht das Wunderwerk Solo with chorus Soprano C major Allegro moderato common time The marv'lous work beholds amazed
Day 3
5 Und Gott sprach: Es sammle sich das Wasser Recitative secco Bass common time Gen 1:9–10 And God said let the waters
6 Rollend in schäumenden Wellen Aria Bass D minor Allegro assai common time Rolling in foaming billows
7 Und Gott sprach: Es bringe die Erde Gras hervor Recitative secco Soprano common time Gen 1:11 And God said, Let all the earth bring forth grass
8 Nun beut die Flur das frische Grün Aria Soprano B-flat major Andante 6/8 Now robed in cool refreshing green
9 Und die himmlischen Heerscharen verkündigten den dritten Tag Recitative secco Tenor common time And the Heavenly host proclaimed the third day
10 Stimmt an die Saiten Chorus D major Vivace common time Awake the harp
Day 4
11 Und Gott sprach: Es sei'n Lichter an der Feste des Himmels Recitative secco Tenor common time Gen 1:14–16 And God said : Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven
12 In vollem Glanze steiget jetzt die Sonne strahlend auf Recitative Tenor D major Andante common time In splendour bright is rising now the sun
Mit leisem Gang und sanftem Schimmer Piú Adagio With softer beams and milder light
Den ausgedehnten Himmelsraum Piú Adagio The space immense of th'azure sky
13 Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes Chorus C major Allegro common time Ps 19:1 The heavens are telling the glory of God
Dem kommenden Tage sagt es der Tag Trio S B T Ps 19:2 To day that is coming speaks it the day
Die Himmel erzählen ... Chorus The heavens are telling ...
Dem kommenden Tage ... Trio S B T To day that is coming ...
Die Himmel erzählen ... Chorus Più allegro The heavens are telling ...
Und seiner Hände Werk Chorus, fugue The wonder of his works

Part I celebrates the creation of the primal light, the Earth, the heavenly bodies, bodies of water, weather, and plant life.

Prelude. Die Vorstellung des Chaos (The Representation of Chaos)

One of the most famous numbers in the work, an overture in C minor in slow tempo, written in sonata form. Haydn depicts Chaos by withholding musical cadences from the ends of phrases.

No. 1. Im Anfange schuf Gott Himmel und Erde (In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth)

The Creation of the Heavens by John Flaxman (1755–1826)

This movement relates the words of Genesis 1:1–4. It begins with a recitative for bass solo in C minor, followed by choral presentation of the creation of light. The latter is depicted first with a soft pizzicato note from the strings, followed by a sudden surprise fortissimo C major chord on the word Licht (Light).

This moment created a sensation at the public premiere of the work in Vienna. According to a friend of the composer:

at that moment when light broke out for the first time, one would have said that rays darted from the composer's burning eyes. The enchantment of the electrified Viennese was so general that the orchestra could not proceed for some minutes.

Audiences today generally let the moment speak for itself.

Following the appearance of light is a brief tenor recitative on the words "and God saw the light, that it was good", leading into:

No. 2. Nun schwanden vor dem heiligen Strahle (Now vanished by the holy beams)

Aria for tenor with chorus in A major, portraying the defeat of Satan's host, from Paradise Lost.

End of the first day.

No. 3. Und Gott machte das Firmament (And God made the firmament)

Long recitative for bass in C major. The bass part first gives the words of Genesis 1:6–7, then follows orchestral tone painting, describing the division of the waters from the land and the first storms.

No. 4. Mit Staunen sieht das Wunderwerk (The marv'lous work beholds amazed/The glorious hierarchy of heav'n)

Soprano solo with chorus, in C major. The heavenly hosts praise God and the work of the second day.

End of the second day.

No. 5. Und Gott sprach: Es sammle sich das Wasser (And God said let the waters)

Brief recitative for bass (Genesis 1:9–10), leading into:

No. 6. Rollend in schäumenden Wellen (Rolling in foaming billows)

Aria in D minor for bass, narrating the creation of seas, mountains, rivers, and (a coda in D major) brooks. As John Mangum points out, the stylistic inspiration here appears to be the "revenge aria" of 18th century opera buffa, as for instance in "La vendetta", from Mozart's Le nozze de Figaro.

No. 7. Und Gott sprach: Es bringe die Erde Gras hervor (And God said, Let all the earth bring forth grass)

Brief recitative for soprano (Genesis 1:11), leading into: No. 8. Nun beut die Flur das frische Grün (Now robed in cool refreshing green)

Solo aria in B flat major for soprano, in siciliana rhythm, celebrating the creation of plants.

No. 9. Und die himmlischen Heerscharen verkündigten (And the Heavenly host proclaimed the third day)

Brief recitative for tenor, leading into:

No. 10. Stimmt an die Saiten (Awake the harp)

Chorus celebrating the third day, with four-part fugue on the words "For the heavens and earth/He has clothed in stately dress".

End of the third day.

No. 11. Und Gott sprach: Es sei'n Lichter an der Feste des Himmels (And God said : Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven)

Recitative for tenor, with portions of Genesis 1:14–16.

No. 12. In vollem Glanze steiget jetzt die Sonne (In splendour bright is rising now/the sun)

With tenor narration, the orchestra portrays a brilliant sunrise, then a languid moonrise. The tune of the sunrise is simply ten notes of the D major scale, variously harmonized; the moon rises in the subdominant key of G, also with a rising scale passage. The end of recitative briefly alludes to the new-created stars, then introduces:

No. 13. Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes (The heavens are telling the glory of God)

The text is based on Psalm 19:1–3, which had been set by Bach as the opening chorus of his cantata Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes, BWV 76. Haydn's century, following on the discoveries of Newton, had the view that an orderly universe—particularly the mathematically governed motion of the heavenly bodies—attests to divine wisdom. Haydn, a naturally curious man, may have had an amateur interest in astronomy, as while in England he took the trouble to visit William Herschel, ex-composer and discoverer of Uranus, in his observatory in Slough.

"Die Himmel erzählen" is not in the home key of Part I, C minor, but is instead in C major, showing the triumph of light over dark. It begins with alternation between celebratory choral passages and more meditative sequences from the three vocal soloists, followed by a choral fugue on the words "Und seiner Hände Werk zeigt an das Firmament", then a final homophonic section. ("The wonder of his works displays the firmament" is the English text here, with word-order calqued from the German, but somewhat awkward compared to the Authorized Version's "And the firmament sheweth the handywork of God".) The unusual intensity of the ending may be the result of Haydn's piling of coda upon coda, each occurring at a point where the music seems about to end.

End of the fourth day.

Part II

No. Title Form Voice Key Tempo Time Source Translation
Day 5
14 Und Gott sprach: Es bringe das Wasser in der Fülle hervor Recitative Soprano Allegro common time Gen 1:20 And God said : Let the waters bring forth in plenty
15 Auf starkem Fittiche schwinget sich der Adler stolz Aria Soprano F major Moderato common time On mighty wings the eagle proudly soars aloft
16 Und Gott schuf große Walfische Recitative secco Bass common time Gen 1:21–22 And God created great whales
Seid fruchtbar alle Recitative Poco Adagio Be fruitful all
17 Und die Engel rührten ihr' unsterblichen Harfen Recitative secco Bass common time And the angels struck their immortal harps
18 In holder Anmut stehn Trio S T B A major Moderato 2/4 In fairest raiment
19 Der Herr ist groß in seiner Macht Trio and chorus S T B Vivace common time The Lord is great in his might
Day 6
20 Es bringe die Erde hervor lebende Geschöpfe[n 2] Recitative secco Bass common time Gen 1:24 And God said : Let earth bring forth the living creature
21 Gleich öffnet sich der Erde Schoß Recitative Bass Presto common time At once Earth opens her womb
Das zackig Haupt 6/8 The nimble stag
Auf grünen Matten Andante The cattle in herds
Wie Staub verbreitet sich common time Unnumbered as the sands
In langen Zügen Adagio In long dimensions
22 Nun scheint in vollem Glanze der Himmel Aria Bass D major Allegro maestoso 3/4 Now shines heaven in the brightest glory
23 Und Gott schuf den Menschen Recitative secco Tenor common time Gen 1:27, Gen 2:7 And God created Man
24 Mit Würd' und Hoheit angetan Aria Tenor C major Andante common time In native worth and honor clad
25 Und Gott sah jedes Ding Recitative secco Bass common time Gen 1:31 And God saw every thing
26 Vollendet ist das große Werk Chorus B-flat major Vivace common time Fulfilled at last the great work
27 Zu dir, o Herr, blickt alles auf Trio S T B E-flat major Poco Adagio 3/4 Ps 145:15–16 All look up to thee, O Lord
28 Vollendet ist das große Werk Chorus B-flat major Vivace common time Fulfilled at last the great work
Alles lobe seinen Namen Chorus, fugue Ps 148:13 Glory to his name forever

Part II celebrates the creation of sea creatures, birds, animals, and lastly, man.

No. 14. Und Gott sprach: Es bringe das Wasser in der Fülle hervor (And God said : Let the waters bring forth in plenty)

The Creation in L'Antiquité Judaïque (1460/1470)

Recitative for soprano (Genesis 1:20), leading into:

No. 15. Auf starkem Fittiche schwinget sich der Adler stolz (On mighty wings the eagle proudly soars aloft)

Plum aria for soprano in F major, celebrating the creation of birds. The species mentioned are the eagle, the lark, the dove and the nightingale. The lyrics include the conceit that, at the time just after the Creation, the nightingale's song was not yet melancholy.

No. 16. Und Gott schuf große Walfische (And God created great whales.)

For bass solo, in D minor. While labeled a recitative in the score, it is more appropriately described as a recitative (from Genesis 1:21–22) followed by a very brief aria, the latter a verse paraphrase on the biblical words (Gen. 1:22) "Be fruitful and multiply." The bass sings in the voice of the Almighty, as quoted by the Archangel Raphael. The somber accompaniment uses no violins, but only the lower strings, with divided violas and cellos. For discussion of how this section was composed, see Gottfried van Swieten.

No. 17. Und die Engel rührten ihr' unsterblichen Harfen (And the angels struck their immortal harps.)

Brief recitative for bass, with notable harp imitations in the accompaniment, leading into:

No. 18. In holder Anmut stehn (In fairest raiment)

Haydn breaks the regularity of the pattern "Recitative–Elaboration for solo–Celebratory chorus" with a meditative work in A major for the trio of vocalists, contemplating the beauty and immensity of the newly created world. This leads without a break to:

No. 19. Der Herr ist groß in seiner Macht (The Lord is great in his might)

Chorus with all three soloists, in A major, celebrating the fifth day. The line "...und ewig bleibt sein Ruhm" is, appropriately, repeated over and over again, seemingly without end.

End of the fifth day

No. 20. Und Gott sprach: Es bringe die Erde hervor lebende Geschöpfe (And God said : Let earth bring forth the living creature)

Recitative for bass (Genesis 1:24), leading into:

No. 21. Gleich öffnet sich der Erde Schoß (At once Earth opens her womb)

A movement of tone painting with bass narration. Haydn's gentle sense of humor is indulged here as the newly created creatures appear, each with musical illustration: lion, tiger, stag, horse, cattle, sheep, insects, and worms. As always in Haydn's oratorio tone painting, the sung verbal explanation comes after the orchestral portrayal.

The transition from glamorous animals (the first four) to prosaic ones (the last four) is marked with an unprepared modulation from D flat to A major. The farm animals are portrayed (as in No. 8) with siciliana rhythm, which plainly had bucolic associations for Haydn. Basses who have a strong low D are often tempted to use it on the final note "Wurm", substituting for the D an octave lower than written by Haydn.

excerpt #3, from clip: bass Kyle Ketelson,

No. 22. Nun scheint in vollem Glanze der Himmel (Now shines heaven in the brightest glory)

Aria for bass in D major, in 3/4 time. The theme is

Doch war noch alles nicht vollbracht
Dem Ganzen fehlte das Geschöpf
Das Gottes Werke dankbar seh'n
Des Herren Güte preisen soll.
"Yet not all was complete,
The whole lacked a being
Who would behold God's work with thanks
And praise the Lord's goodness."

Thus the movement is preparatory to the creation of man.

The first part of the movement contains another brief but notable bit of tone painting: a fortissimo bottom B-flat (sounding in octaves) for bassoons and contrabassoon accompanying the last word of the line, "By heavy beasts the ground is trod."

No. 23. Und Gott schuf den Menschen (And God created Man)

Battistero di San Giovanni, 13th century

Tenor recitative (Genesis 1:27, 2:7), leading to:

No. 24. Mit Würd' und Hoheit angetan (In native worth and honor clad)

A prized aria for tenor, in C major, celebrating the creation of man, then woman. Often sung outside the context of The Creation. Although the aria relates a Biblical story, the virtues attributed to Adam (and not Eve) clearly reflect the values of the Enlightenment.

This was almost certainly the last music from The Creation that Haydn ever heard: it was sung for him several days before his death in 1809 as a gesture of respect by a French military officer, a member of Napoleon's invading army.

No. 25. Und Gott sah jedes Ding (And God saw every thing)

Brief recitative for bass (text amplifying Genesis 1:31), leading to:

No. 26. Vollendet ist das große Werk (The great work is complete)

A celebration for chorus alone, in B flat, of the sixth day.

No. 27. Zu dir, o Herr, blickt alles auf (All look up to thee, O Lord)

Another meditation for the three angels (compare No. 18), in E flat major, on God's omnipotence and mercy, quoting Psalm 145:15–16. The bass solo line "Du wendest ab dein Angesicht" requires the singer to terrify the audience with barely-audible pianissimo. The end of the trio is followed without pause by...

No. 28. Vollendet ist das große Werk (Fulfilled at last the great work)

This chorus begins with the same music and words as No. 26, and is in the same key of B flat. It quickly moves into large double fugue on the words "Alles lobe seinen Namen, denn er allein ist hoch erhaben" ("Let all praise his name, for he alone is sublime"). As appropriate to the finale of Part II, this repeat chorus is longer and ends more intensely than the first.

The pattern of the last three numbers of Part II, with two celebratory movements on the same theme flanking a slower meditative movement, echoes countless settings of the Latin Mass, where similar or identical choruses on Hosanna in excelsis flank a meditative section on Benedictus.

Part III

No. Title Form Voice Key Tempo Time Translation
Day 7
29 Aus Rosenwolken bricht Recitative Tenor E major Largo 3/4 In rosy mantle appears
30 Von deiner Güt, o Herr und Gott / Gesegnet sei des Herren Macht Duet with chorus S B C major Adagio common time By thy goodness, O bounteous Lord / Forever blessed be his Pow'r
Der Sterne hellster / Macht kund auf eurer weiten Bahn F major Allegretto 2/4 Of stars the fairest / Proclaim in your extended course
Heil dir, o Gott! Chorus Hail, bounteous Lord!
31 Nun ist die erste Pflicht erfüllt Recitative S B Allegro common time Our first duty we have now performed
32 Holde Gattin, dir zur Seite Duet S B E-flat major Adagio 3/4 Sweet companion, at thy side
Der tauende Morgen Allegro 2/4 The dew dropping morn
33 O glücklich Paar, und glücklich immerfort Recitative secco Tenor common time O happy pair, and ever happy henceforth
34 Singt dem Herren alle Stimmen! Chorus B-flat major Andante common time Sing the Lord, ye voices all
Des Herren Ruhm, er bleibt in Ewigkeit Chorus (fugue) with soli S A T B Allegro The praise of the Lord will endure forever

Part III takes place in the Garden of Eden, and narrates the happy first hours of Adam and Eve.

No. 29. Aus Rosenwolken bricht (In rosy mantle appears)

The Garden of Earthly Delights (detail 3) by Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450–1516)

Orchestral prelude in slow tempo depicting dawn in the Garden of Eden, followed by recitative for tenor representing Uriel. Adam and Eve are seen walking hand in hand.

The key is E major, very remote from the flat-side keys that have dominated the work so far. Various commentators suggest that this was meant by Haydn to convey the remoteness of Earth from Heaven, or to contrast the sinfulness of people with the perfection of angels.

No. 30. Von deiner Güt', o Herr und Gott (By thy goodness, O bounteous Lord)

Adam and Eve offer a prayer of thanks in C major, accompanied by a chorus of angels.

This movement, the longest in The Creation, has three parts. In the first, marked adagio, Adam and Eve sing their prayer, with the chorus singing underneath them accompanied by soft timpani rolls. In the second section, the tempo picks up, and Adam, Eve, and the angels praise the newly created world. The final section is for chorus and orchestra alone, a celebration on the words "Wir preisen dich in Ewigkeit" ("We praise thee eternally").

No. 31. Nun ist die erste Pflicht erfüllt (Our first duty we have now performed)

Recitative for Adam and Eve, leading to:

No. 32. Holde Gattin, dir zur Seite (Sweet companion, at thy side)

Love duet for Adam and Eve in E flat major. There is a slow initial section, followed by an Allegro. The style is clearly influenced by opera, and some commentators invoke a parallel between Adam and Eve and the characters Papageno and Papagena, from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte.

No. 33. O glücklich Paar, und glücklich immerfort (O happy pair, and ever happy henceforth)

Uriel briefly explains to the pair that they will be happy always if they will refrain from wanting to have, or wishing to know, more than they should. This is the only reference to the fall of humanity.

No. 34. Singt dem Herren alle Stimmen! (Sing the Lord, ye voices all)

Final chorus in B flat major. There is a slow introduction, followed by a double fugue on the words "Des Herren Ruhm, er bleibt in Ewigkeit" ("The praise of the Lord will endure forever"), with passages for the vocal soloists and a final homophonic section.

Selected recordings

Recordings of The Creation / Die Schöpfung
Conductor / Choir / Orchestra Soloists Label Year
Krauss, ClemensClemens Krauss
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Phonographie PH 5029/30 1942 (1942) in Vienna
Jochum, EugenEugen Jochum
BR Choir
Melodram GM 4.0055 1951-04-28 28 April 1951 (1951-04-28) in Munich (live)
Forster, KarlKarl Forster
Chor der St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale Berlin
EMI CZS 7 62595 2 1960 (1960)
Keilberth, JosephJoseph Keilberth
Kölner Rundfunkchor
Andromeda ANDRCD 9037 1962 (1962)
Karajan, Herbert vonHerbert von Karajan
Singverein der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Wien
Wiener Philharmoniker
Arkadia CDKAR 203.2 1965-08-08 8 August 1965 (1965-08-08) in Salzburg (live)
Karajan, Herbert vonHerbert von Karajan
Wiener Singverein
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Deutsche Grammophon 289449 761–2 1966 (1966) and later, released 1969
Dorati, AntalAntal Dorati
Brighton Festival Chorus
Decca 443 027-2 1977 (1977)
Marriner, NevilleNeville Marriner
The Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields
Philips 416 449 1980 (1980)
Kuijken, SigiswaldSigiswald Kuijken
Collegium Vocale Gent
La Petite Bande
Accent / Harmonia Mundi ACC8228 1982 (1982) (on period instruments in concert at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique de Liege)
Bernstein, LeonardLeonard Bernstein
BR Choir
Deutsche Grammophon (CD and DVD) 1986 (1986) (concert in the Benedictine Abbey of Ottobeuren)
Hogwood, ChristopherChristopher Hogwood
The Academy of Ancient Music
The Academy of Ancient Music
Decca 430 397–2 1990 (1990) (sung in English, period instruments)
Levine, JamesJames Levine
  • Rundfunkchor Stockholm
  • Stockholmer Kammerchor
Berliner Philharmoniker
Deutsche Grammophon B000024Z74 1991 (1991)
Gardiner, John EliotJohn Eliot Gardiner
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
Deutsche Grammophon Archiv 449 217–2 1995 (1995) (period instruments)
Christie, WilliamWilliam Christie
Les Arts Florissants
Virgin Classics 0946 3 95235 2 8 2007 (2007) (period instruments)
Davies, ColinColin Davies
London Symphony Chorus
London Symphony Orchestra
LSO Live LSO0628 2007 (2007)
McCreesh, PaulPaul McCreesh
Chetham's Chamber Choir
Gabrieli Consort and Players
Deutsche Grammophon Archiv 477 7361 2008 (2008) (issued)
Jacobs, RenéRené Jacobs
RIAS Kammerchor
Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Harmonia Mundi Archiv 992039.4 2009 (2009) (issued)

The 2009 recording won a Grammy Award in 2011 and was the top pick by pianist Iain Burnside on the 2013 broadcast of BBC 3'S CD Review – Building a Library.[4]


Haydn's original autograph score has been lost since 1803. A Viennese published score dated 1800 forms the basis of most performances today. The 'most authentic' Tonkünstler-Societat score of 1799, with notes in the composer's hand, can be found at the Vienna State Library. There are various other copyist scores such as the Estate, as well as hybrid editions prepared by scholars during the last two centuries.


  1. ^ suddenly forte in C major on "light"
  2. ^ various keys and tempo markings to illustrate different animals


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Wigmore, Richard (10 January 2009). "Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) / The Creation (Die Schöpfung), HobXXI/2 (1796–8)" (PDF).  
  2. ^ Temperley, Nicholas (1991). Haydn: The Creation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 26. 
  3. ^ Haydn, Joseph (2001). The Creation in Full Score. Dover.  
  4. ^ Burnside, Iain. "Building a Library: Haydn: The Creation". CD Review – Building a Library. BBC Radio 3. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 

External links

  • Die Schöpfung, Hob.XXI:2: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
  • The Creation: MIDI/MP3-version, with German text and practice files for choristers
  • Betsy Schwarm: The Creation Encyclopedia Britanica
  • Libretto (German) 1804 print
  • Libretto (German) HTML
  • Annotated score at New York Philharmonic Archives
  • 1803 edition at IMSLP (including English text)
  • partial editions at cpdl
  • Joseph Haydn: The Creation Carus-Verlag
  • Neil Jenkins: Haydn: The Libretto of "The Creation"
  • Mark Berry: Haydn’s Creation and Enlightenment Theology
  • The ideology of musical ”greatness”: Haydn’s late oratorios in a political context