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Franz Joseph Haydn (/ /; German: [ˈjoːzɛf ˈhaɪdən] ( listen); 31 March 1732 – 31 May 1809), known as Joseph Haydn, was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms. He was also instrumental in the development of the piano trio and in the evolution of sonata form.
A lifelong resident of Austria, Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family on their remote estate. Isolated from other composers and trends in music until the later part of his long life, he was, as he put it, "forced to become original". At the time of his death, he was one of the most celebrated composers in Europe.
Joseph Haydn was the brother of Michael Haydn, himself a highly regarded composer, and Johann Evangelist Haydn, a tenor. He was also a close friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.
Joseph Haydn was born in Rohrau, Austria, a village that at that time stood on the border with Hungary. His father was Mathias Haydn, a wheelwright who also served as "Marktrichter", an office akin to village mayor. Haydn's mother Maria, née Koller, had previously worked as a cook in the palace of Count Harrach, the presiding aristocrat of Rohrau. Neither parent could read music; however, Mathias was an enthusiastic folk musician, who during the journeyman period of his career had taught himself to play the harp. According to Haydn's later reminiscences, his childhood family was extremely musical, and frequently sang together and with their neighbours.
Haydn's parents had noticed that their son was musically gifted and knew that in Rohrau he would have no chance to obtain any serious musical training. It was for this reason that they accepted a proposal from their relative Johann Matthias Frankh, the schoolmaster and choirmaster in Hainburg, that Haydn be apprenticed to Frankh in his home to train as a musician. Haydn therefore went off with Frankh to Hainburg 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) away and never again lived with his parents. He was about six years old.
Life in the Frankh household was not easy for Haydn, who later remembered being frequently hungry and constantly humiliated by the filthy state of his clothing. However, he did begin his musical training there, and could soon play both harpsichord and violin. The people of Hainburg heard him sing treble parts in the church choir.
There is reason to think that Haydn's singing impressed those who heard him, because in 1739 he was brought to the attention of Georg von Reutter, the director of music in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, who happened to be visiting Hainburg. Haydn passed his audition with Reutter, and in 1740 moved to Vienna, where he worked for the next nine years as a chorister, after 1745 in the company of his younger brother Michael.
Haydn lived in the Kapellhaus next to the cathedral, along with Reutter, Reutter's family, and the other four choirboys. He was instructed in Latin and other school subjects as well as voice, violin, and keyboard. Reutter was of little help to Haydn in the areas of music theory and composition, giving him only two lessons in his entire time as chorister. However, since St. Stephen's was one of the leading musical centres in Europe, Haydn learnt a great deal simply by serving as a professional musician there.
Like Frankh before him, Reutter did not always bother to make sure Haydn was properly fed. As he later told his biographer Albert Christoph Dies, Haydn was motivated to sing very well, in hopes of gaining more invitations to perform before aristocratic audiences—where the singers were usually served refreshments.
By 1749, Haydn had matured physically to the point that he was no longer able to sing high choral parts—the Empress herself complained to Reutter about his singing, calling it "crowing". One day, Haydn carried out a prank, snipping off the pigtail of a fellow chorister. This was enough for Reutter: Haydn was first caned, then summarily dismissed and sent into the streets with no home to go to. He had the good fortune to be taken in by a friend, Johann Michael Spangler, who shared his family's crowded garret room with Haydn for a few months. Haydn immediately began his pursuit of a career as a freelance musician.
During this arduous time, 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". He was also briefly in Count Friedrich Wilhelm von Haugwitz's employ, playing the organ in the Bohemian Chancellery chapel at the Judenplatz.
When he was a chorister, Haydn had not received serious training in music theory and composition, which he perceived as a serious gap. To fill it, he worked his way through the counterpoint exercises in the text Gradus ad Parnassum by Johann Joseph Fux, and carefully studied the work of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, whom he later acknowledged as an important influence.
As his skills increased, Haydn began to acquire a public reputation, first as the composer of an opera, Der krumme Teufel, "The Limping Devil", written for the comic actor Johann Joseph Felix Kurz, whose stage name was "Bernardon". The work was premiered successfully in 1753, but was soon closed down by the censors. Haydn also noticed, apparently without annoyance, that works he had simply given away were being published and sold in local music shops. Between 1754 and 1756 Haydn also worked freelance for the court in Vienna. He was among several musicians who were paid for services as supplementary musicians at balls given for the imperial children during carnival season, and as supplementary singers in the imperial chapel (the Hofkapelle) in Lent and Holy Week.
With the increase in his reputation, Haydn eventually obtained 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, that is, 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. His wife was the former Maria Anna Aloysia Apollonia Keller (1729–1800), the sister of Therese (b. 1733), with whom Haydn had previously been in love. Haydn and his wife had a completely unhappy marriage, from which the laws of the time permitted them no escape. 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) by Prince Paul Anton, head of the immensely wealthy Esterházy family. Haydn's job title was only Vice-Kapellmeister, but he was immediately placed in charge of most of the Esterházy musical establishment, with the old Kapellmeister, Gregor Werner, retaining authority only for church music. When Werner died in 1766, Haydn was elevated to full Kapellmeister.
As a "house officer" in the Esterházy establishment, Haydn wore livery and followed the family as they moved among their various palaces, most importantly the family's ancestral seat Schloss Esterházy in Eisenstadt and later on Eszterháza, a grand new palace built in rural Hungary in the 1760s. Haydn had a huge range of responsibilities, including composition, running the orchestra, playing chamber music for and with his patrons, and eventually the mounting of operatic productions. Despite this backbreaking workload, the job was in artistic terms a superb opportunity for Haydn. The Esterházy princes (Paul Anton, then from 1762–1790 Nikolaus I) were musical connoisseurs who appreciated his work and gave him daily access to his own small orchestra. 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.
1779 was a watershed year for Haydn, as his contract was renegotiated: whereas previously all his compositions were the property of the Esterházy family, he now was permitted to write for others and sell his work to publishers. Haydn soon shifted his emphasis in composition to reflect this (fewer operas, and more quartets and symphonies) and he negotiated with multiple publishers, both Austrian and foreign. Of Haydn's new employment contract Jones writes,
The new publication campaign resulted in the composition of a great number of new string quartets (the six-quartet sets of Op. 33, 50, 54/55, and 64). Haydn also composed in response to commissions from abroad: the Paris symphonies (1785–1786) and the original orchestral version of The Seven Last Words of Christ (1786), a commission from Cadiz, Spain.
The remoteness of Esterháza, which was farther from Vienna than Eisenstadt, led Haydn gradually to feel more isolated and lonely. He longed to visit Vienna because of his friendships there. Of these, a particularly important one was with Maria Anna von Genzinger (1754–93), the wife of Prince Nikolaus's personal physician in Vienna, who began a close, platonic, relationship with the composer in 1789. Haydn wrote to Mrs. Genzinger often, expressing his loneliness at Eszterháza and his happiness for the few occasions on which he was able to visit her in Vienna; later on, Haydn wrote to her frequently from London. Her premature death in 1793 was a blow to Haydn, and his F minor variations for piano, Hob. XVII:6, may have been written in response to her death.
Another friend in Vienna was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whom Haydn had met sometime around 1784. According to later testimony by Michael Kelly and others, 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. For further details see Haydn and Mozart.
In 1790, Prince Nikolaus died and was succeeded as prince by his son Anton. Following a trend of the time, Anton sought to economize by dismissing most of the court musicians. Haydn retained a nominal appointment with Anton, at a reduced salary of 400 florins, as well as a 1000-florin pension from Nikolaus. Since Anton had little need of Haydn's services he was willing to let Haydn travel elsewhere, and the composer accepted a lucrative offer from Johann Peter Salomon, a German impresario, to visit England and conduct new symphonies with a large orchestra.
The visit (1791–92), along with a repeat visit (1794–95), was a huge success. Audiences flocked to Haydn's concerts; he augmented his fame and made large profits, thus becoming financially secure. He received the Doctor Honoris causa in the University of Oxford, and, in 1792, he also contributed to save the honour of his friend, the music editor William Napier. Charles Burney reviewed the first concert thus: "Haydn himself presided at the piano-forte; and the sight of that renowned composer so electrified the audience, as to excite an attention and a pleasure superior to any that had ever been caused by instrumental music in England."
Musically, the visits to England generated some of Haydn's best-known work, including the Surprise, Military, Drumroll, and London symphonies, the Rider quartet, and the "Gypsy Rondo" piano trio. The only misstep in the venture was an opera, L'anima del filosofo, which Haydn was contracted to compose, but whose performance was blocked by intrigues. Haydn made many new friends and was involved for a time in a romantic relationship with Rebecca Schroeter.
While traveling to London in 1790, Haydn had met the young Ludwig van Beethoven in his native city of Bonn. On Haydn's return, Beethoven came to Vienna and during the time up to the second London visit was Haydn's pupil. For discussion of their relationship, see Beethoven and his contemporaries.
Haydn returned to Vienna in 1795. Prince Anton had died, and his successor Nikolaus II proposed that the Esterházy musical establishment be revived with Haydn serving again as Kapellmeister. Haydn took up the position, though only on a part-time basis. He spent his summers with the Esterházys in Eisenstadt, and over the course of several years wrote six masses for them. But by this time Haydn had become a public figure in Vienna. He spent most of his time in his own home, a large house in the suburb of Windmühle, and wrote works for public performance. In collaboration with his librettist and mentor Gottfried van Swieten, and with funding from van Swieten's Gesellschaft der Associierten, Haydn composed his two great oratorios The Creation (1798) and The Seasons (1801). Both were enthusiastically received. Haydn frequently appeared before the public, often leading performances of The Creation for charity benefits. He also composed instrumental music: the popular Trumpet Concerto and the last nine in his long series of string quartets, including the Fifths, Emperor, and Sunrise quartets.
During the later years of this successful period Haydn faced incipient old age and fluctuating health, and he had to struggle to complete his final works. By about 1802, his condition had declined to the point that he became physically unable to compose. This was doubtless very difficult for him because, as he acknowledged, the flow of fresh musical ideas waiting to be worked out as compositions did not cease. Haydn was well cared for by his servants, and he received many visitors and public honours during his last years, but they could not have been very happy years for him. During his illness, Haydn often found solace by sitting at the piano and playing Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser, which he had composed himself as a patriotic gesture in 1797. This melody was later used for the Austrian and German national anthems.
A final triumph occurred on 27 March 1808, when a performance of The Creation was organized in Haydn's honour. The very frail composer was brought into the hall on an armchair to the sound of trumpets and drums, and was greeted by Beethoven, by Salieri (who led the performance), and by other musicians and members of the aristocracy – many of whom probably sensed that they were saying goodbye to the elderly composer. Haydn was both moved and exhausted by the experience, and had to depart at intermission.
Haydn lived on for another year. He died, aged 77, at the end of May 1809, shortly after an attack on Vienna by the French army under Napoleon. Among his last words was his attempt to calm and reassure his servants when cannon shot fell in the neighbourhood: "My children, have no fear, for where Haydn is, no harm can fall." Two weeks later, a memorial service was held in the Schottenkirche on 15 June 1809, at which Mozart's Requiem was performed.
James Webster writes of Haydn's public character thus: "Haydn's public life exemplified the Enlightenment ideal of the honnête homme (honest man): the man whose good character and worldly success enable and justify each other. His modesty and probity were everywhere acknowledged. These traits were not only prerequisites to his success as Kapellmeister, entrepreneur and public figure, but also aided the favourable reception of his music." Haydn was especially respected by the Eszterházy court musicians whom he supervised, as he maintained a cordial working atmosphere and effectively represented the musicians' interests with their employer; see Papa Haydn and the tale of the "Farewell" Symphony.
Haydn had a robust sense of humour, 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, notably in the correspondence with Mrs. Genzinger and in Dies's biography, based on visits made in Haydn's old age.
Haydn was a devout Catholic who often turned to his rosary when he had trouble composing, a practice that he usually found to be effective. He normally began the manuscript of each composition with "in nomine Domini" ("in the name of the Lord") and ended with "Laus Deo" ("praise be to God").
Haydn's primary character flaw was greed as it related to his business dealings. Webster writes, "As regards money, Haydn was so self-interested as to shock [both] contemporaries and many later authorities .... He always attempted to maximize his income, whether by negotiating the right to sell his music outside the Esterházy court, driving hard bargains with publishers or selling his works three and four times over; he regularly engaged in 'sharp practice' and occasionally in outright fraud. When crossed in business relations, he reacted angrily." Webster notes that Haydn's ruthlessness in business might be viewed more sympathetically in light of his struggles with poverty during his years as a freelancer, and notes that outside of the world of business—in dealings with relatives and servants, and in volunteering his services for charitable concerts—Haydn was a generous man.
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'".
His nose, large and aquiline, was disfigured by polypus, which he suffered from 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.
James Webster summarizes Haydn's role in the history of classical music as follows: "He excelled in every musical genre... He is familiarly known as the 'father of the symphony' and could with greater justice be thus regarded for the string quartet; no other composer approaches his combination of productivity, quality and historical importance in these genres."
A central characteristic of Haydn's music is the development of larger structures out of very short, simple musical motifs, often derived from standard accompanying figures. The music is often quite formally concentrated, and the important musical events of a movement can unfold rather quickly.
Haydn's work was central to the development of what came to be called sonata form. His practice, however, differed in some ways from that of Mozart and Beethoven, his younger contemporaries who likewise excelled in this form of composition. Haydn was particularly fond of the so-called "monothematic exposition", in which the music that establishes the dominant key is similar or identical to the opening theme. Haydn also differs from Mozart and Beethoven in his recapitulation sections, where he often rearranges the order of themes compared to the exposition and uses extensive thematic development.
Haydn's formal inventiveness also led him to integrate the fugue into the classical style and to enrich the rondo form with more cohesive tonal logic (see sonata rondo form). Haydn was also the principal exponent of the double variation form—variations on two alternating themes, which are often major- and minor-mode versions of each other.
Perhaps more than any other composer's, Haydn's music is known for its humour. The most famous example is the sudden loud chord in the slow movement of his "Surprise" symphony; Haydn's many other musical jokes include numerous false endings (e.g., in the quartets Op. 33 No. 2 and Op. 50 No. 3), and the remarkable rhythmic illusion placed in the trio section of the third movement of Op. 50 No. 1.
Much of the music was written to please and delight a prince, and its emotional tone is correspondingly upbeat. This tone also reflects, perhaps, Haydn's fundamentally healthy and well-balanced personality. Occasional minor-key works, often deadly serious in character, form striking exceptions to the general rule. Haydn's fast movements tend to be rhythmically propulsive and often impart a great sense of energy, especially in the finales. Some characteristic examples of Haydn's "rollicking" finale type are found in the "London" symphony No. 104, the string quartet Op. 50 No. 1, and the piano trio Hob XV: 27. Haydn's early slow movements are usually not too slow in tempo, relaxed, and reflective. Later on, the emotional range of the slow movements increases, notably in the deeply felt slow movements of the quartets Op. 76 Nos. 3 and 5, the Symphonies No. 98 and 102, and the piano trio Hob XV: 23. The minuets tend to have a strong downbeat and a clearly popular character. Over time, Haydn turned some of his minuets into "scherzi" which are much faster, at one beat to the bar.
Haydn's early work dates from a period in which the compositional style of the High Baroque (seen in Bach and Handel) had gone out of fashion. This was a period of exploration and uncertainty, and Haydn, born 18 years before the death of Bach, was himself one of the musical explorers of this time. An older contemporary whose work Haydn acknowledged as an important influence was Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
Tracing Haydn's work over the six decades in which it was produced (roughly from 1749 to 1802), one finds a gradual but steady increase in complexity and musical sophistication, which developed as Haydn learned from his own experience and that of his colleagues. Several important landmarks have been observed in the evolution of Haydn's musical style.
In the late 1760s and early 1770s Haydn entered a stylistic period known as "Sturm und Drang" (storm and stress). This term is taken from a literary movement of about the same time, though it appears that the musical development actually preceded the literary one by a few years. The musical language of this period is similar to what went before, but it is deployed in work that is more intensely expressive, especially in the works in minor keys. James Webster describes the works of this period as "longer, more passionate, and more daring." Some of the most famous compositions of this time are the "Trauer" (Mourning) Symphony No. 44, "Farewell" Symphony No. 45, the piano sonata in C minor (Hob. XVI/20, L. 33), and the six string quartets of Op. 20 (the "Sun" quartets), all from c. 1771–72. It was also around this time that Haydn became interested in writing fugues in the Baroque style, and three of the Op. 20 quartets end with a fugue.
Following the climax of the "Sturm und Drang", Haydn returned to a lighter, more overtly entertaining style. There are no quartets from this period, and the symphonies take on new features: the scoring often includes trumpets and timpani. These changes are often related to a major shift in Haydn's professional duties, which moved him away from "pure" music and toward the production of comic operas. Several of the operas were Haydn's own work (see List of operas by Joseph Haydn); these are seldom performed today. Haydn sometimes recycled his opera music in symphonic works, which helped him continue his career as a symphonist during this hectic decade.
In 1779, an important change in Haydn's contract permitted him to publish his compositions without prior authorization from his employer. This may have encouraged Haydn to rekindle his career as a composer of "pure" music. The change made itself felt most dramatically in 1781, when Haydn published the six string quartets of Opus 33, announcing (in a letter to potential purchasers) that they were written in "a new and completely special way". Charles Rosen has argued that this assertion on Haydn's part was not just sales talk, but meant quite seriously; and he points out a number of important advances in Haydn's compositional technique that appear in these quartets, advances that mark the advent of the Classical style in full flower. These include a fluid form of phrasing, in which each motif emerges from the previous one without interruption, the practice of letting accompanying material evolve into melodic material, and a kind of "Classical counterpoint" in which each instrumental part maintains its own integrity. These traits continue in the many quartets that Haydn wrote after Opus 33.
In the 1790s, stimulated by his England journeys, Haydn developed what Rosen calls his "popular style", a method of composition that, with unprecedented success, created music having great popular appeal but retaining a learned and rigorous musical structure. An important element of the popular style was the frequent use of folk or folk-like material, as discussed in the article Haydn and folk music. Haydn took care to deploy this material in appropriate locations, such as the endings of sonata expositions or the opening themes of finales. In such locations, the folk material serves as an element of stability, helping to anchor the larger structure. Haydn's popular style can be heard in virtually all of his later work, including the twelve London symphonies, the late quartets and piano trios, and the two late oratorios.
The return to Vienna in 1795 marked the last turning point in Haydn's career. Although his musical style evolved little, his intentions as a composer changed. While he had been a servant, and later a busy entrepreneur, Haydn wrote his works quickly and in profusion, with frequent deadlines. As a rich man, Haydn now felt that he had the privilege of taking his time and writing for posterity. This is reflected in the subject matter of The Creation (1798) and The Seasons (1801), which address such weighty topics as the meaning of life and the purpose of humankind, and represent an attempt to render the sublime in music. Haydn's new intentions also meant that he was willing to spend much time on a single work: both oratorios took him over a year to complete. Haydn once remarked that he had worked on The Creation so long because he wanted it to last.
The change in Haydn's approach was important in the history of classical music, as other composers were soon following his lead. Notably, Beethoven adopted the practice of taking his time and aiming high.
Haydn's works are listed in a comprehensive catalogue prepared by Anthony van Hoboken. This Hoboken catalogue provides each work with an identifying number, called its Hoboken number (abbreviation: H. or Hob.). The string quartets also have Hoboken numbers, but are usually identified instead by their opus numbers, which have the advantage of indicating the groups of six quartets that Haydn published together; thus for example the string quartet Opus 76, No. 3 is the third of the six quartets published in 1799 as Opus 76.
By the mid eighteenth century, Jewish stereotypes were engrained in European culture, and frequently caricatured in a comedic manner in the theatre. Haydn incorporated coded Jewish caricatures in two works for the stage: Der (neue) krumme Teufel (The [new] limping devil, 1752; rev. 1759) for the German Theatre in Vienna; and the comic opera Lo speziale (The apothecary, 1768) for Eszterháza. Haydn had many occasions to observe and possibly interact with Jews near his places of employment in both Vienna and Eisensadt, where he worked with the well-known Viennese comic actor Johann Joseph Felix (von) Kurz (known as Bernardon), who specialized in Jewish portrayals. Leopoldstadt in Vienna, which was home to the Judenstadt (Jewish ghetto), was located directly across from the church of the Barmherzige Brüder (Brothers Hospitallers) where Haydn worked in the 1750s, and in the small town of Eisenstadt Jews lived a protected ghetto just west of the Esterházy palace.
Haydn’s setting of the Missa brevis Joannis de Deo (c. 1775), honouring St. John of God, the patron saint of the Brothers Hospitallers,has been interpreted as a Mass modified to accommodate congregants in the process of transitioning to the Catholic faith. In the setting of the Credo in this Mass, the second article of faith (describing Jesus Christ as the only Son of God) is omitted. Its absence is disguised by the mellifluous texture created by the missa brevis style, whereby different lines of text are delivered simultaneously by the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass parts. While textual omissions in this and other Mass settings have traditionally been attributed to Haydn’s absentmindedness, the consistency of the omissions suggests they were intentional: the omissions likely acted as a symbol of the composer's discontent with the rigidity and authoritarian nature of the religious institution, revealing his sociopolitical ideals, empathetic enlightened views, and efforts toward easing the process of conversion.
Performed by the Amigos do JPC with Pedro Carlos Silva (piano)
Performed by Kristian Cvetković
Performed by Kristian Cvetković
MIDI performance by Bernd Krueger
MIDI performance by Bernd Krueger
Performed by orchestra with cellist John Michel
Performed by orchestra with cellist John Michel
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