FRANZ) JOSEPH HAYDN (1732-1809). Born in March 31, 1732  in Rohrau,  Austria  and died on May 31, 1809  in  Vienna.  Austrian composer who was one of the most important figures in the  devel­opment  of the Classical style in music during the 18th  century. He  helped  establish the forms for the string  quartet  and  the symphony.


Joseph was the second son of humble parents. His father  was a  wheelwright, his mother, before her marriage, a cook  for  the lords of the village. Joseph revealed unusual musical gifts,  and his parents’ problem of how to provide the proper type of  educa­tion  for  him  was solved by a cousin, a  school  principal  and choirmaster  in the nearby city of Hainburg, who offered to  take the  boy into his home and train him. Joseph, not yet  six years old,  left home, never to return to the parental  cottage  except for rare, brief visits.

The  boy sang in the church choir, learned to  play  various instruments,  and obtained a good basic knowledge of  music.  But otherwise, life at Hainburg was less satisfactory. The cousin was poor  and his modest salary hardly sufficed to support a  growing family. Joseph was not yet given the love and care a child needs; as he later reported, he received “more floggings than food”. But he  was able to take such disadvantages in his stride; he  had  a wiry resilience and a contented disposition.

Joseph’s  life  changed  when he was eight  years  old:  the musical director of St.Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna had observed the boy on a visit to Hainburg and invited him to serve as  chor­ister  at the Austrian capital’s most important  church.  Haydn’s parents  accepted  the  offer, for it secured  for  their  son  a through musical training and relieved them of all financial cares while  he boarded at the choir school. Thus, in 1740 Haydn  moved to  Vienna full of expectation. He stayed at the school for  nine years,  acquiring  an enormous practical knowledge  of  music  by constant  performances  but,  to  his  disappointment,  receiving little  instruction in music theory. The pattern of life in Hai­burg seemed to repeat itself. Again he had to work to fulfill all his obligations as a chorister; again he was badly fed. Gradually his voice deteriorated; when it broke, the cathedral choir had no use for him. Seizing on the pretext of punishing a practical joke the  director  had him expelled from the choir  school.  With  no money and three ragged shirts and an old coat as his only posses­sions, Haydn at 17 was left to his own devices. He found a refuge for  a while in the garret of fellow musician and supported  him­self “miserably” with odd musical jobs, performing at dances  and serenades, playing the organ at Sunday services, and teaching  at very at very modest fees. Hand in hand with these activities went an arduous course of self-instruction through the study of  musi­cal  works–notably those of Carl Philipp Emmanuel  Bach–and  of leading  manuals  of musical theory. A fortunate  chance  brought him  to  the  attention of the successful  Italian  composer  and singing teacher Niccolo Porpora, who accepted him as  accompanist for  voice  lessons and, in return for this as well  as  for  his services as a valet, corrected Haydn’s compositions.

With  persistence  and energy, Haydn made progress.  He  was eventually  engaged to teach some aristocratic pupils and  intro­duced  by them to the music-loving Austrian nobleman Karl  Joseph von  Furnberg,  in whose home he played chamber  music.  For the instrumentalists there he wrote his first string quartets, a form that he cultivated throughout his professional career,  composing some 80 such works.
Through  the recommendation of Furnberg, in 1758  Haydn  re­ceived  his first regular appointment. he was engaged as  musical director  and chamber composer for the Bohemian  count  Ferdinand Maximilian von Morzin, who lived mostly in his country estate  of Lukavec  in western Bohemia. Haydn had an orchestra of  about  16 musicians,  and  for this ensemble he wrote his  first  symphony. These first attempts were still conventional in character, yet  a certain freshness of melodic invention and sparkle marked as  the work of a future master.

Esterhazy  Patronage:  Haydn stayed only  briefly  with  von Morzin,  as financial difficulties forced his patron  to  dismiss the  orchestra.  Soon Haydn was invited to enter the  service  of Prince  Pal Antal Esterhazy, who had heard his works at von  Mor­zin’s castle. The Esterhazys were one of the wealthiest and  most influential families of the Austrian empire and boasted a distin­guished record of supporting music and art. Prince Pal Antal  had a well-appointed orchestra performing regularly in his castle  at Eisenstadt,  a small town some 30 miles from Vienna. Because  his aged  music director was ailing, the Prince appointed  the  rela­tively unknown Haydn assistant conductor.

In  1766  Haydn  became musical director  at  the  Esterhazy court. He raised the quality and increased the size of the  Prin­ce’s musical ensembles by appointing many choice instrumentalists and singers. His ambitious plans were supported by Prince Miklos, who, on the death of his brother in 1762, had become head of  the family. Haydn served Prince Miklos for nearly 30 years. He  loved hunting,  fishing,  and other outdoor activities.  He frequently visited  Vienna in the Prince’s retinue. On these visits a  close friendship developed with Mozart, though he was 24 years  younger than  Haydn.  They  felt inspired by each  other’s  work.  Mozart declared that he had learned from Haydn how to write quartets and dedicated a superb set of six such works to his “beloved friend”. Haydn’s  music,  too, shows the impact of his young  friend.  The mature composer was by no means set in his ways; he was  flexible and receptive to new ideas.

Unlike  Mozart, Haydn became internationally famous  in  his own lifetime. His works were performed throughout Europe and were published  in Austria, Germany, Holland, France, and England.  He received  official commissions from many European  music  lovers. The  city of Cadiz in Spain, for example, commissioned The  Seven Last Words for a Good Friday service in 1796; the King of  Naples requested  compositions for the lira organizzata,  a  hurdy-gurdy (wheel  fiddle)  with a built-in tiny pipe organ; and  the  Paris Symphonies (numbers 82-87) were commissioned and composed in 1785 and  1786.  Haydn’s professional success was not matched  in  his personal life–a girl he loved entered a convent, and her parents induced Haydn, who had just obtained his position with Count  von Morzin,  to wed the elder sister. Not a pleasant, peaceful  home,
nor  any children. Haydn’s wife, two years his senior, was  quar­relsome  and bigoted. She did not understand music and showed  no interest in her husband’s work. Her disdain went to the  extremes of  using his manuscripts for pastry pan linings or curl  papers. For years  he carried on a love affair with Luigia  Polzelli,  a young Italian mezzo-soprano in the Prince’s service.

English  Period: In 1791 Haydn arrived in London.  The  many novel  impressions, the meeting with eminent musicians,  and  the admiration bestowed on him had a powerful impact on his  creative work.  The symphonies written for the first and second  visit  to London  represent  the  climax in his  orchestral  output.  Their virtuosity  of  instrumentation, masterly  treatment  of  musical forms,  freely flowing melodic inspiration, and sense  of  humour endeared  the works much to the British audiences. The  opera  he composed  for  the King’s Theatre was refused the license  to  be performed. In July 1791 Oxford University awarded him the  honor­ary  degree  of Doctor of Music. He performed for the  Prince  of Wales  and the Duke of York. Sixty years old, his face pitted  by smallpox, with a large aquiline nose, and too-short legs, he  was nonetheless attractive to women admirers.

In  June  1792  Haydn left London for  Germany,  for  Prince Esterhazy wanted the famous composer in his retinue at the  coro­nation  of  the emperor Francis II in Frankfurt am Main.  On  his journey  he stopped at Bonn, where the 22-year-old Beethoven  was introduced  to him, and it was arranged that the  young  composer should move to Vienna to receive Haydn’s instruction. On July  29 Haydn arrived in Vienna where he was able, thanks to his  consid­erable earnings in England, to buy a pleasant house still  stand­ing today and the site of a Haydn museum in the suburb of Gumpen­dorf.

Haydn  stayed in Vienna only briefly. His  English  admirers urged  him  to  visit London once more, and in  January  1794  he returned to England, staying until August 15, 1795Again he won  a great  acclaim. Various members of the royal family made  efforts
to keep him in England, but Haydn declined, because a change  had occurred  in the leadership of the Esterhazy family.  Miklos  II, the  new  head of the princely house, was eager  to  restore  the former  orchestra under Haydn’s direction, and the composer  felt compelled  to  accept the assignment. His trunks bulged  with  no fewer  than  768 pages of music he had written, and  the  musical stimulus  and  the  financial rewards for this labour  had  been gratifying.

The  late Esterhazy and Viennese period: In 1791 when  Haydn had  attended  the Handel Commemoration at Westminster  Abbey  in London,  he had been deeply moved by Handel’s masterly  oratorios and  by the veneration with which they were received by the  Eng­lish  audience. Deciding to compose in this genre, he obtained  a suitable  libretto, allegedly prepared for Handel himself.  After settling in Vienna and resuming his duties for Prince  Esterhazy, Haydn  started work on the oratorio The Creation  (“Schöpfung”), the  text of which had been translated into German by Baron  Got­tfried  van  Swieten.  The libretto was based on  the  epic  poem Paradise  Lost by John Milton and on the Genesis chapter  of  the Bible.  Composing  the oratorio proved a  truly congenial  task. Haydn was deeply religious and throughout his career had contributed Latin masses of great beauty for the Roman Catholic  Church. In  the oratorio he could express his gratitude to God in a  work with  German text and at the same time depict in music the  beau­ties  of nature that so greatly delighted him. The years  devoted to  this  task were among the happiest in Haydn’s life.  He  felt uplifted  and in communion with the divine spirit. In April  1798 the  oratorio had its first performance in a princely palace and produced a profound effect. Before long a public performance took place with equal results, and, henceforth, The Creation was again and  again performed with great success, the proceeds  going,  at the composer’s request, to charitable institutions.

This  success encouraged Haydn to produce another  oratorio, which  absorbed  him until 1801. A poem, The  Seasons,  by  James Thomson  (1700-1748), was chosen for the libretto and  translated by van Swieten. The libretto allowed Haydn to compose  delightful musical genre pictures of events in nature, and the oratorio  was also  triumphantly successful, both at court, where the  Austrian empress  sang the soprano solos, where the Austrian empress  sang the soprano solos, and in public performances.
Haydn’s late creative activity also produced the six  masses written  for  his patron Esterhazy, among  the  most  significant masses of the 18th century. He also continued to compose magnifi­cent string quartets and, in 1797, he gave tot he Austrian nation the stirring  song “Gott erhalte Franz den  Kaiser”  (“God  Save Emperor  Francis”).  It was used for more than a century  as  the national  anthem  of the Austrian monarchy and as the  patriotic song  “Deutschland,  Deutschland über alles”  (“Germany,  Germany above all else”) in Germany. The music is heard today under  many titles  as a Protestant hymn in English-speaking  countries.  The song  was so beloved that Haydn decided to use it as a theme  for variations  in  one of his finest string  quartets,  the  Emperor Quartet, Opus 76, No.3. The French capital, after the premiere of The Creation, had a gold medal engraved in Haydn’s honour. In the village of Rohrau, Haydn’s birthplace, a monument was erected  to its famous son, and Haydn had the gratification of seeing it. The city  of Vienna conferred on him the great golden Salvator  Medal and  named him an honorary citizen. Particularly notable was  the Vienna  concert of 1808 in celebration of Haydn’s 76th  birthday. The Creation was performed by eminent musicians in the presence of  the  ailing composer, carried in on an  armchair  and  seated amid  jubilant exclamations among members of the  high  nobility. Poems  were read in his honour, applause shook the hall,  and  on Haydn’s  departure Beethoven knelt down and kissed the  hands  of his former teacher. This was Haydn’s last public appearance.


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