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HAYDN Franz Joseph

HAYDN Franz Joseph

HAYDN Franz Joseph (31 March 1732 – 31 May 1809), known as Joseph Haydn, was one of the most prominent and prolific composers of the Classical period. He was born in Rohrau, Austria, a village that at that time stood on the border with Hungary. In 1739 he was brought to the attention of Georg von Reutter, the director of music in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, who happened to be visiting Hainburg and was looking for new choirboys. Haydn passed his audition with Reutter, and after several months of further training moved to Vienna (1740), where he worked for the next nine years as a chorister. While a chorister, Haydn had not received any systematic training in music theory and composition. As a remedy, he worked his way through the counterpoint exercises in the text Gradus ad Parnassum by Johann Joseph Fux and carefully studied the work of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, whom he later acknowledged as an important influence.

Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family at their remote estate. This isolated him from other composers and trends in music until the later part of his life, when he was, as he put it, “forced to become original”.  At the time of his death, aged 77, he was one of the most celebrated composers in Europe.

He was instrumental in the development of chamber music such as the piano trio and his contributions to musical form have earned him the epithets “Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet”. 

Joseph Haydn was the brother of Michael Haydn – himself a highly regarded composer – and Johann Evangelist Haydn, a tenor. He was also a friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.

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