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Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 - 1809

F.J.Haydn was born in Austria and became a choirboy in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna when he was eight.  Here, he showed a sense of humour which led to his dismissal from the school in 1749, when his voice was breaking.

Teaching and performing, Haydn met Niccolo Porpora, an Italian composer, singer and singing teacher, who gave lessons to Haydn in return for being a general assistant in the household.  By 1755, Haydn was sometimes asked to the houses of the wealthy to give music lessons or to take part in musical performances, when Karl Joseph, Count von Furnberg, took a personal interest in him.

Count von Furnberg like music, but was apparently unable to afford particularly good players.  Haydn wrote his first string quartets for the Count.  Haydn discovered the possibilities of the string quartet and set out to exploit them.

In 1759, haydn became music director for Count Morzin and wrote his first symphony.  Even though his contract forbade it, Haydn married, and the Count ran out of money, so all the musicians were dismissed.

In 1761, Haydn became Deputy Music Director to Paul Anton Esterhazy, Prince of Galanta.  Paul Anton died in 1762 and was succeeded by his brother Nicholas, who loved the arts.  His favourite instrument was the baryton, a bass viol with six main strings and sixteen supplementary wire strings plucked by the left thumb, and Haydn wrote over one hundred and sixty works for it, including solos, duets, concertos, and included it in trios and divertimenti.

For Prince Nicholas, Haydn had to provide music for all occasions that demanded it, such as dramatic performances, balls, private family pleasurre, formal occasions and chapel services.  Haydn composed an opera "Acide e Galatea" for the marriage festivities of Nicholas' son Anton.

During his first five years at Eisenstadt, Haydn composed about fifteen symphonies.  Haydn also wrote for Empress Maria Theresa's visit to Esterhaz in 1773.  The symphony in C major (no. 48) was composed in honour of this occasion.  In 1773, the Empress "borrowed" Haydn and his team to perform at celebrations in Vienna.

Haydn became famous and well-known in Vienna, and wished to travel, but the Prince did not want to let him out of his sight.  However, orchestral players when they left, and visiting virtuosi, spread the music of Haydn.  His works were published in Germany, Holland, France and England.

During the 1780s, Haydn met W.A.Mozart and was also invited to visit England.  In 1780, Haydn began a business arrangement with Artaria, a Viennese publishing house, and the next year, did the same with a London publisher, William Forster.  Haydn sold works to both houses.

In 1790, Prince Nicholas died, and his son Anton cared little for music.  Haydn retained his title and salary, but without duties.  Now he had the opportunity to visit England.  At Westminster Abbey, he heard a great Handel Festival and was greatly impressed by the splendour of the music.  Ar Oxford, Haydn conducted the "Oxford" Symphony (no. 92), which had actually been written before leaving Austria for another purpose.  He received an honorary Doctor's degree, of which he was very proud.

When he returned to Austria, Beethoven had become one of Haydn's students, but his youth and the difference in age led to the end of the lessons.

In 1794, Haydn returned to England.  Here he was popular and enjoyed success.  During this time, Prince Anton died, succeeded by Nicholas II, who though music at the court should be taken seriously.

Returning to Austria, Haydn started rebuilding the orchestra.  His symphonies were extremely popular in Vienna, including the "Surprise".

Nicholas II enjoyed church music.  Once a year, for his birthday, Haydn was expected to produce a Mass.  Because of the Napoleonic Wars, patriotism was on the rise.  Impressed by "God Save the King" in England, Haydn composed music for the words of the poem "God sustain Emperor Franz" by Lorenz Haschka.

Handel's oratorios inspired Haydn to consider the composition of an oratorio in similar style.  "The Creation" was first performed in Vienna, on April 30, 1798.

In 1809, French armies invaded Austria and Vienna, and in May, Haydn's friends knew he was near the end of his life.  French officers visited to pay their respects, and he died on May 31st.

Haydn's music includes: