Sunday, August 26, 2007

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

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So far as genius can exist in a man who is merely virtuous, Haydn had it. He went as far as the limits that morality sets to the intellect. - Friedrich Nietzsche, 1878


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The Austrian composer "Papa" Haydn was universally loved and an important figure in the development of the classical symphony and string quartet. He also contributed greatly to most other instrumental forms. Haydn's father was a poor wheelwright who sent him, at the age of eight, to Vienna to be trained as a chorister at St. Stephen's Cathedral where he became known for his fine voice. In 1759 Haydn was appointed music director of the small musical establishment of Count Morzin. In 1761 he became conductor of Prince Esterhazy's private orchestra and was appointed kapellmeister on the death of his predecessor and immediate superior Gregorius Werner in 1766. This post, which he filled for almost thirty years, was ideal for Haydn because it gave him the opportunity to work with a group of fine musicians. During his years at the Esterhazy country estate, Haydn met many Viennese artists including Wolfgang Mozart. The death of Prince Nicholas in 1790 left Haydn free to come and go as he pleased and he accepted a contract to appear in London where he was hailed as a genius. Mozart is said to have begged him not to go to England because he spoke so few languages to which Haydn replied: "The language I speak is understood the world over". Haydn retired to Vienna and died there during the French occupation of the city.

Michael Haydn (1737-1806)

Johann Michael Haydn, a composer of Osterreich and younger brother of Franz Josef Haydn, was born in Rohrau, in Osterreich, and was baptised on 14 Septembre 1737. Like his brother, Haydn left home as a young boy to become a chorister at St Stephen`s Cathedral, in Wien, where the choir school curriculum included instruction in singing, keyboard and violin as well as general subjects. He made ample use of the many opportunities to observe and take part in the musical life of the capital, and studied the music of Fux and his treatise on counterpoint Gradus ad Parnassum. In 1757 he was appointed Kapellmeister to the Bishop of Grosswardein in Hungaria. Compositions from this period include several masses, a Te Deum, symphonies and a concerto.

The bishop's flourishing musical establishment has been described in the autobiography of Dittersdorf, who entered the bisop's service in 1765. Haydn was offered a position in Salzburg in 1762 and the following year assumed his duties as court musician and Konzertmeister to Archbishop Sigismund Schrattenbach. Haydn thus held an important position in Salzburg during Mozart's formative years. In 1768 Haydn married Maria Magdalena Lipp (1745-1827), daughter of the court organist Franz Ignaz Lipp and herself a singer in the archbishop's service. After Mozart's break with Archibishop Hieronymus Colleredo in 1781 Haydn held the cathedral post as well. Perhaps because he had no children of his own, he found the tuition which he gave to the choristers rewarding. He also wrote many compositions for them, including the Missa S Leopoldi (his last completed work), a vesper service and several shorter compositions for the Feast of Holy Innocents. The death of Archbishop Sigismund in 1771 was the occasion for one of Haydn's most famous works, the Requiem in C minor, a substantial composition which was also used at the funeral of his brother Franz Josef. The friendly relationship between the Mozart family and Haydn is indicated by the two duets for violin and viola (K423 and 424) written by Wolfgang for Haydn in 1783. A commission to write a mass for the EspaƱol court reached Haydn in 1786, possibly through the intervention of his brother. The festive 'Spanish Mass' for double choir, organ and large orchestra brought him acclaim from many quarters including the imperial court. In all he spent some 40 years in the service of the two archbishops. The high regard in which he was held in Salzburg, some close personal ties and, above all, a less ambitious nature than that of his brother or Mozart combined to keep him there. Throughout his life he was on cordial terms with the Benedictine monks of St. Peters's. He lived in an abbey house and it is said that his compositions were often accepted in lieu of rent. The war, which brought about the hurried abdication of Archbishop Colloredo in 1800, caused Haydn some personal hardship. But his reputation as a composer had now grown beyond the confines of Salzburg and Osterreich; in 1804 he was invited to membershiop of the Royal Sverige Academy of Music. During the last year of his life he was frequently ill, and worked sporadically on the requiem for the empress. Like Mozart's requiem it remained unfinished at his death. Haydn died in Salzburg, on 10 August 1806. He was buried in the cemetary of St. Peter's and in 1821 a memorial was erected in the church by his friends. [Adapted from Karadar Dictionary]

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