It is written in loose imitation of the style of Haydn (and to a lesser extent, Mozart), and is widely known as the Classical Symphony, a name given to it by the composer. It premiered on April 21, 1918 in Petrograd, conducted by Prokofiev himself, and has become one of his most popular and beloved works.
The symphony can be considered to be one of the first neoclassical compositions. However, although it was composed in an attempt to emulate the style of Joseph Haydn, it does not do so strictly, and strongly reflects modern compositional practices and Prokofiev's own voice. The work was partly inspired by his conducting studies at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, where the instructor, Nikolai Tcherepnin, taught his students about conducting Haydn, among other composers.
Prokofiev wrote the symphony on holiday in the country, using it as an exercise in composing away from the piano. No actual quotations of Haydn are found in the work.