Franz Joseph Haydn : biography
Childhood and youth.
Joseph Haydn (the composer himself never used Franz in his name) was born on the 31st of March in 1732. The future composer was born and grown up in village Rohrau not far from the border with Hungary. His father was Mathias Haydn (1699-1763). Joseph’s parents were very fond of vocal and playing music at home. When Joseph Haydn was 5 years old his parents found out that the boy had talent for music and decided to send him to Hainburg an der Donau where their relatives lived just to let the boy study chorus singing and music. In 1740 Joseph Haydn was noticed by Georg von Reutter, the musical director in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna by that time. Georg von Reutter took the boy to Vienna where he sang in a chorus. Joseph Haydn would sing in chorus for nine more years together with his brothers.
Singing in chorus made a good school for Haydn but still that kind of education was not enough. As he was improving his singing skills they let him sing more and more difficult vocal parts. Together with the chorus Haydn often took part in city celebrations, weddings, funerals and court festivals.
In 1749 Joseph Haydn’s voice started to change and he had to leave the chorus. The following ten years period was rather hard for Haydn. He took almost job he could get, for example he worked as a servant of composer Nicola Porpora who was Joseph’s musical teacher at the same time. Haydn was trying hard to fill in the lacks in his musical education studying persistently Emanuel Bach’s compositions and musical theory. The sonatas for harpsichord he composed at that period were released and drew audience’s attention. The first serious compositions by Haydn were two masses Brevis, F-dur and G-dur – actually they were composed in 1749 before he left singing in chorus in St. Stephen's Cathedral. He also composed opera “Limping demon” (which is lost nowadays), about ten quartets and his first symphony.
In 1759 Joseph Haydn was given a position of Bandmaster at the court of Karl fon Morcin. Haydn became the leader of a small orchestra and he could compose his first symphonies for that. Unfortunately the court soon got into financial troubles and had to close his musical project.
In 1760 Joseph Haydn married Maria Anna Aloysia Apollonia Keller. They never had children and Haydn was very upset by the fact.
In 1761 an exciting event turned up in Joseph Haydn’s life – he was given a position of the second bandmaster at the court of Esterhazy family. Esterhazy were one of the most authoritative and powerful families in Austria. The bandmaster duties were: composing music, leadership of the orchestra, playing chamber music for the patron and performing operas.
Haydn worked for the court for more than 30 years. During that period he composed most f his compositions known nowadays. Joseph Haydn was becoming more and more popular. In 1781 got acquainted and made friends with Mozart while visiting Vienna. Haydn also was a teacher of Sigismund von Neukomm he became the composer’s close friend.
On the 11th of February in 1785 Joseph Haydn was consecrated into Masonic lodge «Zur wahren Eintracht». Mozart couldn’t be present at the event as he was visiting his father Leopold’s concert.
During the whole 18th century in Italy, Germany, Austria, France and other countries were going processes of innovation music. New genres and musical forms of instrumental music were appearing. Those processes finally formed and reached their highest level in so-called classical Vienna school. It consisted of the compositions by Hayden, Mozart and Beethoven. Harmonious texture was almost replaced with the polyphonic one. However polyphonic episodes were still included in large instrumental compositions making the music more dynamic.
Free musician again.
Passing Bonn in 1792 Joseph Haydn got acquainted with young Beethoven and after a while decided to teach him. Then Haydn settled down in Vienna where he composed his two famous oratorios: “The creation” of 1799 and “The seasons” of 1801.
Haydn tried himself in all forms of musical composition but it should be honest to say that he could fully show his great talent in all the genres he tried. In the field of instrumental music he was truly one of the most important composers of the second half of 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. The greatness of Haydn as a composer was fully expressed in his two concluding oratorios “the creation” and “The seasons”. Those writings can be considered to be perfect examples of musical classicism. Joseph Haydn was a very famous and respected composer by the end of his life.
Working at the oratorios undermined Joseph Haydn’s health. His last compositions became “Harmoniemesse” of 1802 and unfinished string quartet op. 103 of the same year. The latest sketches were made in 1806 after that Haydn never composed a thing. The composer passed away in Vienna on the 31th May in 1809.
The musical heritage by Joseph Haydn includes: 104 symphonies, 83 quartets, 52 piano sonatas, two oratorios, 14 masses and 2 operas.
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