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Franz Joseph Haydn 1732-1809

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Arnold1740-1802 Gluck1714-1787
Beethoven 1770-1827  
Boccherini1743-1805 Haydn1732-1809
Clementi1752-1832 Hummel1778-1837
Czerny1794-1857 Mozart1756-1791
Diabelli1781-1858 Rossini1792-1868
Dussek1760-1812 Schubert1797-1828
Field1782-1837 Weber1786-1826
Haydn - online jigsaw puzzle - 64 pieces
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Listen to Allegro con brio from Sonate in D No. 37

Franz Joseph Haydn was born and spent his life in Austria. He was one of the most prolific composers of the Classical period and he is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of the important influence he had on the development of these two forms. He was also instrumental in the development of the piano trio and in the evolution of sonata form.

Haydn's works are listed in a comprehensive catalogue prepared by Anthony van Hoboken, which provides each work with an identifying number, called its Hoboken number (abbreviation: H. or Hob.).


Haydn spent most of his life working as a court musician for the wealthy Huungarian Esterhazy family on their remote estate. He was isolated from other composers and trends in music until late in life and so was forced to become original. He was a close friend of Mozart and a teacher of Beethoven.At the time of his death he was one of the most celebrated composers in Europe.

Haydn's parents had noticed that their son was musically gifted and so sent him to train as a musician when he was 6 years old. He was apprenticed to the Frank household and learned to play the harpsichord and violin. He also sang treble in the Hainburg church choir.

In 1740 Georg von Reutter, the director of music in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, happened to be visiting Hainburg and Haydn auditioned for him and was taken on as a chorister and music student.He stayed there for the next 9 years later joined by his younger brother Michael.

In 1749 he was chastised and dismissed from St Stephens after he cut off the pigtail of a fellow student.Haydn was then able to begin immediately his pursuit of a career as a freelance musician. Haydn worked at many different jobs: as a music teacher, as a street serenader, and eventually, in 1752, as valet–accompanist for the Italian composer Nicola Porpora, from whom he later said he learned "the true fundamentals of composition". As his skills increased, Haydn began to acquire a public reputation, first as the composer of an opera, Der krumme Teufel "The Limping Devil" and eventually was able to obtain aristocratic patronage, crucial for the career of a composer in his day. Countess Thun, having seen one of Haydn's compositions, summoned him and engaged him as her singing and keyboard teacher. In 1756, Baron Carl Josef Fürnberg employed Haydn at his country estate, Weinzierl, where the composer wrote his first string quartets. Fürnberg later recommended Haydn to Count Morzin, who, in 1757,became his first full time employer.

Haydn's job title under Count Morzin was Kapellmeister,( music director). He led the count's small orchestra and wrote his first symphonies for this ensemble. In 1760, with the security of a Kapellmeister position, Haydn married but he and his wife had a completely unhappy marriage, from which the laws of the time permitted them no escape; and they produced no children. Both took lovers.

Count Morzin soon suffered financial reverses that forced him to dismiss his musical establishment, but Haydn was quickly offered a similar job (1761) as Vice Kapellmeister to the Esterházy family, one of the wealthiest and most important in the Austrian Empire. When the old Kapellmeister, Gregor Werner, died in 1766, Haydn was elevated to full Kapellmeister.

During the nearly thirty years that Haydn worked at the Esterházy court, he produced a flood of compositions, and his musical style continued to develop. His popularity in the outside world also increased. Haydn met Mozart sometime around 1784and the two composers occasionally played in string quartets together. Haydn was hugely impressed with Mozart's work and praised it unstintingly to others. Mozart evidently returned the esteem, as seen in his dedication of a set of six quartets, now called the "Haydn" quartets, to his friend.

In 1790, Prince Nikolaus died and was succeeded by a thoroughly unmusical prince who dismissed the entire musical establishment and put Haydn on a pension. Haydn was then able to accept a lucrative offer from Johann Peter Salomon, a German impresario, to visit England and conduct new symphonies with a large orchestra.

The visit (1791–1792), along with a repeat visit (1794–1795), was a huge success. Audiences flocked to Haydn's concerts; Haydn augmented his fame and made large profits, thus becoming financially secure.Musically, the visits to England generated some of Haydn's best-known work, including the SurpriseMilitaryDrumroll, and London symphonies, the Rider quartet, and the "Gypsy Rondo"piano trio. Between visits, Haydn taught Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven found him unsatisfactory as a teacher and sought help from others; the relationship between the two was sometimes rather tense. 

Haydn returned to Vienna in 1795, and turned to the composition of large religious works for chorus and orchestra. These include his two great oratorios (The Creation and The Seasons) and six masses for the Eszterházy family, which by this time was once again headed by a musically-inclined prince. Haydn also composed instrumental music: the popular Trumpet Concerto and the last nine in his long series of string quartets, including the FifthsEmperor, and Sunrise quartets.

In 1802, an illness from which Haydn had been suffering for some time had increased in severity to the point that he became physically unable to compose.  Haydn suffered from nasal polyposis for much of his adult life; this was an agonizing and debilitating disease in the 18th century, and at times it prevented him from writing music.

Haydn died at the end of May in 1809, shortly after an attack on Vienna by the French army under Napoleon. He was 77. Among his last words was his attempt to calm and reassure his servants when cannon shot fell in the neighborhood. Two weeks later, a memorial service was held in theSchottenkirche on June 15, 1809, at which Mozart's Requiem was performed.

Haydn made a fortune from his composition, and at his death left a net estate of over 10,000 florins, hundreds of times the median estate of a composer in Vienna at that time, and solidly in the upper-middle class.

Haydn had a robust sense of humor, evident in his love of practical jokes and often apparent in his music, and he had many friends. For much of his life he benefited from a "happy and naturally cheerful temperament",but in his later life, there is evidence for periods of depression. He was a devout Catholic who often turned to his rosary when he had trouble composing .

Haydn was short in stature, perhaps as a result of having been underfed throughout most of his youth. He was not handsome, and like many in his day he was a survivor of smallpox, his face being pitted with the scars of this disease. His biographer Dies wrote, "he couldn't understand how it happened that in his life he had been loved by many a pretty woman. 'They couldn't have been led to it by my beauty'".



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