Born: March 31st, 1732
Died: May 31st, 1809
Country of origin: Austria
Joseph Haydn, Austrian composer, founder of the Viennese Classical School of Music
Life and Work:
Born as son of a wheelwright and blacksmith in Hainburg, Haydn was a choirboy at St. Stephen's in Vienna since 1740. When he had to leave the choir in 1749 because his voice broke, he earned his living as a piano accompanist at Nicola Porpora's singing lessons and as a dance hall violinist. At Porpora's Haydn met music patrons, such as Baron Joseph of Fürnberg who arranged entertaining musical events at his country seat of Weinzierl and at whose suggestion Haydn wrote his first string trios ('Weinzierler') and his first string quartet in B flat major, probably around 1755. He also composed his first major piano works, piano trios and serenades as well as his first stage work as early as 1752, the comic opera 'Der krumme Teufel' which is no longer extant. In 1759 Haydn became Kapellmeister of Count Karl Morzin in Lukavec (Bohemia) for whom he wrote his First Symphony in D major in the same year. In 1761 he became second, in 1766 first Kapellmeister of Prince Esterházy in Eisenstadt. This position, which also included other services, was held by Haydn all his life. When the orchestra was dismissed in 1790, Haydn moved to Vienna where he received an annual pension of 1,400 gulden. The years in Eisenstadt and at Eszterháza (near Neusiedler Lake) where the prince had moved to in 1766 had been very productive years. Haydn had written mainly orchestral works and Italian operas to represent and entertain the court. Since the mid-1760s Haydn's works began to become known in Paris and London.
The decade between 1781 and 1791 was characterized by Haydn's friendship with Mozart which is noticeable in the works of both composers (Mozart dedicated six quartets to Haydn). In 1785/86 he wrote the six Paris Symphonies (Hob.I: 8287) commissioned by the society Le Concert de la Loge Olympique. At the instigation of the violinist and concert manager Johann Peter Salomon (*1745, 1815) who worked in England, Haydn was invited to London at the end of 1790 in order to perform six new symphonies of his own. In 1791 the University of Oxford awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Music (performance of the 'Oxford Symphony'). His great success in London in 1791/92 was repeated during his second stay in 1794/95 (another six symphonies which, together with the first ones, form the 12 'London Symphonies'; Hob.I: 93104). In the period between the two trips he taught Beethoven who dedicated three piano sonatas (Op. 2) to him.
In 1795 Prince Nikolaus II Esterházy of Galántha asked him to return to Vienna. Haydn composed six masses the style of which he also used in his great oratorios 'The Creation' and 'The Seasons' together with suggestions of Mozart ('The Magic Flute') and Handel. The vocal version of 'Seven Last Words' has to be regarded as a transition to these vocal works. In 1797 Haydn wrote the melody of the Austrian emperor's hymn 'Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser', inspired by the English hymn 'God save the king', which he set in the variation setting of the 'Emperor's Quartet'. It remained the Austrian national anthem until 1920 and in 1929-46 with various arrangements of the text and since 1922 has also been the melody of the German national anthem on a text by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben from 1841. Haydn died a few days after the city of Vienna was conquered by the French. In 1820 he was buried in the Bergkirche in Eisenstadt.
Well familiar with the Viennese and Mannheim pre-classical schools of music as well as with the contemporary Italian composers in his youth, Haydn was gradually influenced by the emotional style of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. As a 50-year-old, he had developed the form which made him the principal founder of the Viennese Classical School of Music. It was particularly the string quartets and the symphonies that stand for the new instrumental style that characterized this era. Based on a relatively simple harmonic progression and a metric time principle, the setting develops into a differentiated structure in which the segmentable theme and the thematic work are used deliberately. The number of Haydn's works is huge. They are all registered in the Hoboken Catalogue (Hoboken, Anthony van).
Orchestral works: 106 symphonies (only the 'Daytime' symphonies were named by Haydn), e.g. »Le matin« in D major (Hob.I: 6, 1761); »Le midi« in C major (Hob.I: 7, 1761); »Le soir« in G major (Hob.I: 8, 1761); »Abschiedssinfonie« in F sharp minor (Hob.I: 45, 1772); »La chasse« in G major (Hob.I: 73, 1781); »La poule« in G minor (Hob.I: 83, 1785); »La reine« in B flat major (Hob.I: 85, 1786); »L'ours« in C major (Hob. I: 82, 1786); »Oxford« in G major (Hob.I: 92, 1788); »Sinfonie mit dem Paukenschlag« in G major (Hob.I: 94, 1791); »Militär« in G major (Hob.I: 100, 1794); »Die Uhr« in D major (Hob.I: 101, 1794); »Sinfonie mit dem Paukenwirbel« in E flat major (Hob.I: 103, 1795); Symphonie concertante (1792); »Instrumentalmusik über die Sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze« (1785; also for string quartet, 1796 as oratorio); 59 divertimentos; 24 piano concertos; 24 concertos for various instruments: 4 for violin, 5 for violoncello, 3 for baryton, one each for double-bass, flute and trumpet, 4 for one and two horns, 5 for two street organs.
Chamber music: 68 string quartets, e.g. 6»Sonnenquartette« Op.20 (Hob.III: 3136, 1772); 6»Russian« Quartets Op.33 (Hob.III: 3742, 1781; incl. No.3 »Vogelquartett« in C major); 6Quartets Op.50 (Hob.III: 4449, 1790; incl. No.6 »Froschquartett« in D major); 6Quartets Op.64 (Hob.III: 6368, 1790; incl. No.5 »Lerchenquartett« in D major); 3Quartets Op.74 (Hob. III: 7274, 1793; incl. No.3 »Reiterquartett« in G minor); 6Quartets Op.76 (Hob. III: 7580, 1797; incl. No.2 »Quintenquartett« in D minor and No.3 »Kaiserquartett« in C major). 41 piano trios, 21 string trios, 126 baryton trios, 11 trios for winds and strings, 25 baryton duos, 52 piano sonatas as well as 12 other piano pieces, 32 pieces for mechanical musical clock.
Vocal works: 24 Italian operas, e.g. Lo speziale (1768); Le pescatrici (1769); L'infedeltà delusa (1773); L'incontro improvviso (1775); Il mondo della luna (1777); La vera costanza (1777/78); L'isola disabitata (1779); Orlando Paladino (1782); Armida (1783); L'anima del filosofo (1791). Oratorios, e.g. Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze (1796); The Creation (1798); The Seasons (1801). 14 masses, e.g. »Paukenmesse« (Missa in tempore belli, in C major, 1796); »Heiligmesse« (Missa Sti Bernardi of Offida, in B flat major, 1796); »Nelsonmesse« (Missa in angustiis, in D minor, 1798); »Theresienmesse« in B flat major (1799); »Schöpfungsmesse« in B flat major (1801); »Harmoniemesse« in B flat major (1802); 2 te deums, 1 stabat mater (1767), numerous other church music pieces.
Songs, e.g. 48 one-part songs, 13 three- to four-part songs with piano, 57 canons, 445 arrangements of Irish, Scottish and Welsh folk songs.