Composer of the Week: Franz Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn (pronounced “Franz Yo-sef Hi-den”) was a Classical period composer. Haydn was born 1732 in the nation of Austria. His parents could not read music, but recognized young Haydn’s talent and moved so he could attend a good school of music. Despite being fairly poor as a boy, Haydn excelled in music.
As a teenager, Haydn enjoyed practical jokes—something he started writing into his music. During his early adult years, he served as a music teacher, choir director and accompanist for singers. By the age of 30, Haydn was accepting employment as a royal court music director, which was common at the time. He ended up working for the extremely wealthy Esterhazy family. The princes of the family always supported and appreciated music, and the family gave him huge responsibilities, which led to Haydn becoming extremely successful. He wrote symphonies, directed the orchestra, performed and even wrote operas.
Haydn’s most famous work is often considered the “Surprise Symphony” (No. 94), but he wrote literally thousands of other well-known pieces, including solos for trumpet, duets, quartets, concertos, symphonies and operas. He was one of Beethoven’s composition teachers, and became friends with Mozart as well. At his final concert, Beethoven and other composers were in attendance. In 1809, at the age of 77, Haydn died of natural causes. Mozart’s Requiem Mass was performed at his memorial service. Today, he is considered one of the greatest composers of all-time, and is known as the “Father of the Symphony.”
Map of Austria (Current)
Map of Austria (1789)