|Haydn, Franz Joseph (1732-1809)|
composer, recognized as a dominant force in the development of the musical
style of the classical era (circa 1750-circa 1820) and especially the
Of humble origins, Haydn was born in the village of Rohrau, near Vienna. He studied on his own the standard textbooks on counterpoint and took occasional lessons from the noted Italian singing master and composer Nicola Porpora.
In 1755 Haydn was engaged briefly by Baron Karl Josef von Fürnberg, for whom he apparently composed his first string quartets. A more substantial position followed in 1759, when he was hired as music director by Count Ferdinand Maximilian von Morzin. Haydn's marriage in 1760 to Maria Anna Keller proved to be unhappy as well as childless.
Career at Esterháza ( Hungary ) The turning point in Haydn's fortunes came in 1761, when Haydn served under the patronage of three successive princes of the Esterházy family. The second of these, Prince Nicolas Jozsef Esterházy, was an ardent, cultivated music lover. At Esterháza (Hungary), his vast summer estate, Prince Miklós could boast a musical establishment second to none, the management of which made immense demands on its director (Haydn). In addition to compositions for the prince's entertainment, Haydn was required to rehearse and conduct performances of his own and others' works; coach singers; maintain the instrument collection and music library; perform as organist, violist, and violinist when needed. Although he frequently regretted the burdens of his job and the isolation of Esterháza, Haydn's position was enviable by 18th-century standards. One remarkable aspect of his contract after 1779 was the freedom to sell his music to publishers and to accept commissions. As a result, much of Haydn's work in the 1780s reached beyond the guests at Esterháza to a far wider audience, and his fame spread accordingly.
After the death of Prince Nokolas in 1790 his son, Prince Anton, greatly reduced the Esterházy musical establishment. Haydn was at last free to travel beyond the environs of Vienna. The enterprising British violinist and impresario Johann Peter Salomon lost no time in engaging the composer for his concert series in London. Haydn's two trips to England for these concerts, in 1791-92 and 1794-95, were the occasion of the huge success of his last symphonies. Known as the "London" symphonies, they include several of his most popular works: Surprise (no. 94), Military (no. 100), Clock (no. 101), Drum Roll (no. 103), and London (no. 104).
In his late years in Vienna, Haydn turned to writing masses and composed his great oratorios : The Creation (1798) and The Seasons (1801). From this period also comes his "Emperor's Hymn" (1797), which later became the Austrian national anthem. He died in Vienna, on May 31, 1809, a famous and wealthy man. Evaluation Haydn was prolific in nearly all genres, vocal and instrumental, sacred and secular. Haydn's productivity is matched by his inexhaustible originality. His manner of turning a simple tune or motive into unexpectedly complex developments was admired by his contemporaries as innovative. Dramatic surprise, often turned to humorous effect, is characteristic of his style, as is a fondness for folklike melodies.
A writer of Haydn's day described the special appeal of his music as "popular artistry," and indeed his balance of directness and bold experiment transformed instrumental expression in the 18th century.