Joseph Haydn


Joseph Haydn was one of the most prominent composers of the classical period. Hailing from Austria, he is often called the "Father of the Symphony." He spent much of his life as a musician entertaining the wealthy Esterhazy family, where, isolated from other composers, his work was truly original.

Haydn grew up in a musical family (he played or sang with his brothers and father), but at the age of six he left home to be apprenticed to a relative, his parents knowing that he would not achieve a quality education in his hometown. Haydn did not enjoy his time in Hainburg, where he was often ignored and left to go hungry, but he soon learned to play both violin and harpsichord, while still singing in the church choir. After passing an audition for the director of music at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, he was brought to Vienna, where he lived for nine years as a chorister. Once his voice deepened, however, he was sent out into the streets, where he was taken in by a friend and began an intense study of form and composition in order to pursue a career as a freelance musician.

As Haydn became more skilled, he gained aristocratic patronage, a necessity for an artist of that time. He eventually went to work for the Esterhazy family, where he directed a small choir and accompanied the family to their many estates. The first two princes of the family were musical connoisseurs who enjoyed Haydn’s music, but the third did not care for the orchestra and dismissed the entire musical company. Haydn took advantage of his freedom by traveling to London twice, where he composed symphonies for a large orchestra and grew wealthy enough to support a comfortable standard of living. He returned to Vienna in 1975, where he began creating religious works. He was overcome by a long-term illness in his final years, which at its worst reached such intensity that he could no longer write out the symphonies in his head. He died in Vienna at the age of 77, just before the attack on the city by Napoleon.

Key events during the life of Joseph Haydn:

Born in Rohrau, Austria
Apprenticed to a choirmaster and sent to live in Hainburg
Moved to Vienna to become a chorister at St. Stephen's Cathedral
Dismissed from the choir and sent into the streets, taken in by a friend
Worked as a musician for the court in Vienna
Became music director under Count Morzin, led small orchestra
Met an dbecame friends with Amadeus Mozart
1791, 1794
Visited London and conducted new symphonies
Returned to Vienna and began composing religious works
Became so ill that he could no longer write music
Died in Vienna

Book Links
Josph Haydn  by  George Upton

Image Links

Joseph Haydn.
 in  Joseph Haydn

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