Joseph Haydn

Franz Joseph Haydn was among the creators of the fundamental genres of classical music, and his influence upon later composers is immense. Haydn's most celebrated pupil was Ludwig van Beethoven, and his musical form casts a huge shadow over the music of subsequent composers such as Schubert, Mendelssohn and Brahms.

Franz Joseph Haydn was recruited at age 8 to the sing in the choir at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, where he went on to learn to play violin and keyboard. After he left the choir, he supported himself by teaching and playing violin, while studying counterpoint and harmony.

Haydn soon became an assistant to composer Nicola Porpora in exchange for lessons, and in 1761 he was named Kapellmeister, or "court musician," at the palace of the influential Esterhazy family, a position that would financially support him for nearly 30 years. Isolated at the palace from other composers and musical trends, he was, as he put it, "forced to become original."

While Haydn rose in the Esterhazy family's esteem, his popularity outside the palace walls also increased, and he eventually wrote as much music for publication as for the family. Several important works of this period were commissions from abroad, such as the Paris symphonies (1785-1786) and the original orchestral version of "The Seven Last Words of Christ" (1786). Haydn came to feel sequestered and lonely, however, missing friends back in Vienna, such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, so in 1791, when a new Esterhazy prince let Haydn go, he quickly accepted an invitation to go to England to conduct new symphonies.

Audiences flocked to Haydn's concerts, and during his time in England he generated some of his best-known work, including the "Rider" quartet and the Surprise, Military, Drumroll and London symphonies.

Haydn returned to Vienna in 1795 and took up his former position with the Esterhazys, although only part-time. At this point, he was a public figure in Vienna, and when he wasn't at home composing, he was making frequent public appearances. With his health failing, his creative spirit outlasted his ability to harness it, and he died at age 77.

Haydn is remembered as the first great symphonist and the composer who essentially invented the string quartet. The principal engineer of the classical style, Haydn exerted influence on the likes of Mozart, his student Ludwig van Beethoven and scores of others.

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Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1762-1774 Sturm und Drang Symphonies 4.50 stars 6 CD
Comments:
Nos. 26 (Lamentations),
35, 38, 39, 41, 42,
43 (Mercury),
44 (Mourning),
45 (Farewell),
46-47
48 (Maria Theresia),
49 (La Passione)
50-52, 58,
59 (Fire),
65.

The English Concert cond. Trevor Pinnock

1780-1783 Piano Concerto No 11 4.00 stars 7 CD
Comments:
Martha Argerich - Piano
Wurttemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn cond. Jorg Faerber
1785 Symphony No 83 The Hen 3.50 stars LP
Comments:
Suisse Romande Orchestre cond. Ernest Ansermet
1786 Symphony No 82 The Bear 3.50 stars LP
Comments:
Suisse Romande Orchestre cond. Ernest Ansermet
1786 Symphony No 84 In nomine Domini 3.50 stars LP
Comments:
Suisse Romande Orchestre cond. Ernest Ansermet
1785 Symphony No 85 La Reine 3.50 stars LP
Comments:
Suisse Romande Orchestre cond. Ernest Ansermet
1785 Symphony No 85 La Reine 3.50 stars LP
Comments:
Bamberger Symphoniker cond. Joseph Keilberth
1786 Symphony No 86 3.50 stars LP
Comments:
Suisse Romande Orchestre cond. Ernest Ansermet
1786 Symphony No 87 3.50 stars LP
Comments:
Suisse Romande Orchestre cond. Ernest Ansermet
1787 Symphony No 88 3.50 stars LP
Comments:
Philharmonica Hugarica cond. Antal Dorati
1787 Symphony No 89 3.50 stars LP
Comments:
Philharmonica Hugarica cond. Antal Dorati
1788 Symphony No 91 3.50 stars LP
Comments:
Sinfonie-Orchestrer des Bayrischen Rundfunk cond. Eugen Jochum
1790 Lerchen (Lark) Quartet No 53 Opus 64 No 5 4.00 stars LP
Comments:
Quartetto Italiano
1793-1794 Symphony No 85 The Clock 3.50 stars LP
Comments:
Bamberger Symphoniker cond. Joseph Keilberth
1795 Symphony No 103 Rolldrum 3.50 stars LP
Comments:
Sinfonie-Orchestrer des Bayrischen Rundfunk cond. Eugen Jochum
1795 Piano Trio No 39 Gipsy 4.00 stars 8 CD
Comments:
Renauld Capucon - Violin
Gautier Capucon - Cello
Martha Argerich - Piano
1796-1798 Die Schopfung 4.50 stars 2 CD
Comments:
Solists
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists cond. John Eliot Gardiner
1801 Die Jahreszeiten 4.00 stars 2 CD
Comments:
Solists
Arnold Schoenberg Chor
Wiener Symphoniker cond. Nikolaus Harnoncourt