Offers of work came to Haydn from many quarters; the composer ultimately accepted an invitation from the impresario J.P. Salomon to work in the more bourgeois atmosphere of the London concert scene. For his two visits there, during the years 1791-92 and 1994-95, Haydn produced some of his best-known works, including the "Oxford" Symphony (No. 92), the first six "London" or "Salomon" symphonies (Nos. 93-98), the opera L'Anima del filosofo, and his final six London symphonies (Nos. 99-104).
Haydn directed the first performance of his Symphony No. 103 ("Drum Roll") at the second of the newly launched "Opera Concerts" at King's Theatre, where, under the artistic direction of Giovanni Battista Viotti, an unusually large and competent orchestra of sixty musicians was put at his disposal. Of his London symphonies the editor has this to say:
The most remarkable feature of these compositions written in the nineties is that they occasionally present a somewhat problematical and experimental character. They show a definite tendency toward trying out new devices, even at the sacrifice of the poise of former years.... Again and again episodes are to be found in his music in which expressiveness and passionate feeling break through classical composure.... We shall be nearer the truth if we consider the little irregularities in his later music to be the first indications of a movement that was shortly to exercise a profound influence over the whole artistic world: romanticism.
The edition of the score presented in this volume was prepared by Dr. Hubert Unverricht for the scholarly edition of this work published by G.Henle Verlag in 1962. The main sources used were Haydn's original autograph score and the orchestral pars written by Johann Elssler, which include numerous corrections and additions by Haydn.