FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN 1732 -
(G2, G3a, G3b, G3c)
xxxxxThe Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn, one of the great composers of the Classical Period, has been called the father of the symphony, and the founder of the string quartet. He was also a leading exponent of the sonata, and he produced operas, songs, choral work, and a vast amount of church and chamber music. Most of this was composed during his 30 years of service at the court of Esterhazy at Eisenstadt, Austria (1761-
xxxxxThe Austrian Franz Joseph Haydn was one of the great composers of the Classical Period, alongside Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. He has been called the father of the symphony -
xxxxxHe was born of humble parents in the village of Rohrau, near Vienna (birthplace illustrated), and showed musical ability at an early age. As a boy he joined the school and choir at Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, and then studied and worked in this city as a young man, struggling to make a living as a free lance musician. In 1758 he managed to obtain the post of musical director to Count Ferdinand Maximilian von Morzin on his estate near Pizen, Bohemia, but three years later was appointed court musician to the wealthy and influential Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy at Eisenstadt in Austria. This marked a turning point in his career. The prince died the following year, but he then stayed on in the service of his brother Miklos -
xxxxxThese years at the court of Esterhazy were highly productive ones, and gave him practical experience in almost the entire range of musical form. As part of a strict regime, he provided a daily performance of chamber music and, during the week, was responsible for the production of two operas and two formal concerts. As a result, most of his operas -
xxxxxWithin a short time of working at Eisenstadt his musical talent had come to be well known in Vienna, some 30 miles away. He made frequent visits to this city and it was here in the 1780s that he struck up a close friendship with his fellow countryman, the brilliant composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a friendship which proved of musical benefit to both men. And it was here, too, that for a brief time, having met him in 1792, he taught the equally talented German musician Ludwig van Beethoven, a man who much admired Haydn’s works.
xxxxxWith the death of Prince Miklos in 1790, Haydn’s life changed dramatically. His son Antal had little interest in music so, although Haydn remained as music director, he was not required to provide any performances. For the first time in 30 years he was a free man. It was in that year, therefore, that he accepted an invitation to go to London for a series of public concerts. He arrived in England in 1791 -
xxxxxHaydn returned to Vienna in 1795, and spent his last fourteen years there. To this period belong some of his great masterpieces, including his finest choral work The Creation. This was probably inspired during his stay in London when he attended one of the great Handel festivals. It took him two years to write -
xxxxxHaydn showed the musical world the true potential of the symphony, string quartet and keyboard sonata. He was a master of instrumentation, and innovative over a wide variety of musical forms. In general, his music was free flowing, light hearted, and full of fresh, beautiful melodies, much of it based on old folk songs. His later compositions often revealed a greater depth of emotion, but the humour, gaiety and sparkle which typified his work overall was in contrast to the sombre mood and intensity of feeling of the early Romantic movement which was to follow, seen in the works of composers like the German Carl Maria von Weber and the Austrian Franz Schubert.
xxxxxIn 1809 Napoleon’s forces besieged Vienna and entered the city in May. The house next door to where Haydn lived had been hit by cannon fire, but he refused to leave his home and, as a mark of respect to the frail but famous composer, Napoleon (illustrated) placed a guard of honour outside his house. We are told that each day, as a mark of defiance, Haydn played his Emperor’s Hymn on his piano, a stirring song which was later adopted as the Austrian imperial anthem. He died on the last day of the month and his tomb is now in the Mount Calvary Church at Eisenstadt. In June, Mozart’s Requiem, played at his own funeral in 1791, was included in the music for Hadyn’s memorial service.
xxxxxIncidentally, Haydn journeyed to England in 1791 at the invitation of one of London’s leading impresarios named Johann Peter Salomon (1745-
xxxxx…… The two years that Haydn took to compose The Creation were regarded by him as the happiest and most devout years of his life. This work, seen as the crowning glory of his later years, was in three parts, with the third section providing a glorious vision of paradise. A strong believer in the Catholic faith, he always wrote the words nomine Domini (“in the name of the Lord”) at the top of his compositions. ……
xxxxx…… Whilst Haydn’s professional career was crowned with success, it would seem that his home life was nothing short of a disaster. His wife Maria (illustrated), whom he married in 1760, proved of no comfort to him. She had not the slightest interest in music, nor in her husband’s work. We are told that she would often use his manuscripts to line cake tins, use as tablemats, or tear into strips to make curlers for her hair! It is perhaps little wonder that Haydn’s name was romantically linked, among others, with a young Italian mezzo-
xxxxx…… Early on in his career Haydn met the Austrian opera composer Christoph Gluck, and in 1773 the Archduchess of Austria, Maria Theresa, visited the Esterhazys. A puppet show and opera were laid on for her, and the symphony played on that occasion (number 48) was named after her. Haydn also met Lord Nelson in 1800 and they exchanged gifts. Haydn gave Nelson a pen -
xxxxxThe English music critic Charles Burney (1726-
xxxxxA man who greatly admired the work of Haydn was the English organist, composer and music critic Charles Burney (1726-
xxxxxBurney was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, and attended Chester Free School until the age of 16. Two years later he began studying music at Drury Lane, London, -
xxxxxBurney moved in high society. His brilliant circle of friends included the king himself, the prime minister William Pitt the Younger, Samuel Johnson and the Frenchman Jean Jacques Rousseau. Following his death his valuable collection of books was acquired by Parliament, and placed in the British Museum as the Burney Library (and transferred to the British National Library in the 1990s). His novelist daughter Fanny compiled his memoirs in 1832.
xxxxxIncidentally, Burney was not the first to produce a history of music in English. This honour goes to a Middlesex magistrate named John Hawkins (1719-
xxxxx…… Anotherxcomposer who was much influenced by Haydn’s works was the Italian Luigi Boccherini (1743-
Haydn: detail, by the English portrait painter Thomas Hardy (1757-