Haydn had neither the flashy individuality of Mozart or the romantic passion of Beethoven. He was more of a middle management type. Many of the composers from the Classical and Romantic periods were either bizarre and eccentric, misguided, half-insane, disliked by most other people of the time, or had terribly tragic lives. Haydn is the exception to that rule. He was a hard worker who was well-liked by others who led a somewhat normal life
Haydn was born very poor with 11 brothers and sisters. 6 of his siblings died before they reached adulthood. Joseph (as he was called) went to live with a musical cousin who taught him how to sing. It was common in this time period for some of your children to die before they had children of their own due to the lack of knowledge about sanitation and how to treat illnesses.
Still a boy, he got accepted to sing in the choir at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. He studied religion, Latin, math, writing, violin, clavier, and voice. The school only lacked in teaching theory and composition, so he began to educate himself.
His younger brothers Johann Michael and Johann Evangelist later joined the choir and Joseph instructed them in the musical arts that he had only recently learned himself. His brother Michael went on to be a very good composer.
Franz Joseph sang at St. Stephens for 9 years, but was eventually kicked out for two reasons: 1)His voice broke 2) He cut off the pigtail of another boy during choir rehearsal (he was always pulling pranks)
He lived to regret it: she was ugly, ill-tempered, and a bad housekeeper. Worst of all, she had no appreciation for his life as a musician. She would annoy him in any way she could. She even used sheets of his musical compositions as tablemats, cake tins, or she would cut them into strips to curl her hair! After getting booted from the choir, Haydn fell madly in love with a lovely, young woman named Therese Keller. Unfortunately for Haydn though, she became a nun. Too upset to think straight, he married her older sister, Anna Maria Keller. He would purposely work late every night to avoid her as much as possible.
Haydn soon got a job as a composer to the court of Prince Esterhazy, a Hungarian nobleman. Haydn worked for the Esterhazy family for about 50 years. Haydn lived in a giant castle built for the Prince, called Esterhaza. They were one of the wealthiest families in the whole country. Prince Paul Prince Nicholas This Palace is only the summer home of the Esterhazys. The Prince that hired him, Prince Paul, died one year after Haydn came aboard, but the Prince’s brother, Nicolas, became the new Prince and he enjoyed music even more than Prince Paul. Haydn ended up working for Prince Nicolas for the next 29 years, writing music for all of the splendid parties that Nicolas held all the time. When Nicolas died, his son, Anton, was not interested in music, so he disbanded the orchestra. Prince Anton kept Haydn on as choir director, but there were very few concerts throughout the year, so Haydn traveled around a lot during this time. When Prince Anton died, his son, Prince Nicolas II wanted Haydn to come back and rebuild the orchestra as it used to be. Haydn returned to work for Prince Nicolas II for the remainder of his life.
The Esterhazy family still lives in Hungary to this day. Shown here is Countess Melinda Esterhazy on the left and Count Eugen Esterhazy on the right.
Esterhaza was a huge place. It had many buildings including the main castle, the living quarters for servants, a concert hall, and an opera house. It was like a college campus. Everything you need is on the grounds somewhere.
Franz was responsible for everything. He repaired the instruments, he composed all the music, and he recruited performers. Musical events took place almost every day. It’s hard enough putting 2 concerts a year together, and that’s without writing the music, recruiting performers and singers, and fixing all the instruments! Putting on musical events almost everyday must have been rough.
The Esterhazy Estate attracted some of the most important people from around Europe. There were parties all the time and Haydn had to compose NEW music to be played at each one. He wrote 84 string quartets, giving him the name “Father of the String Quartet.” You are listening to the “Emperor” String Quartet
The Esterhaza Estate still stands today. Here is a recent photo of a part of the Esterhaza castle. It is a tourist attraction.
Here is the Esterhaza concert hall. Haydn loved to experiment with musical ideas in his symphonies and then hear the results almost right away. He wrote the most symphonies of any composer. Extremely few composers have passed the 9 symphonies mark. Guess how many Haydn wrote: At least 107! Experts think some may be lost.
Here are more pictures of the Esterhazy concert hall taken by Mr. Tychinski when an orchestra he belongs to played there in the summer of 2004. (click to see more)
Click to hear what Haydn did to help the musicians (let it play before clicking again) There are nicknames for many of Haydn’s symphonies based on the circumstances of their performance. For example, when Prince Nicholas had the grand Esterhaza Palace finished, he told the musicians of the Esterhazy orchestra to move in, but their wives had to stay at home. The musicians had to stay longer than expected and really missed their families. Because of this, the symphony became known as the Farewell Symphony.
Haydn was a diligent, humble, positive man with a big nose, stubby legs, and a mischievous sense of humor. He was well respected by all his musicians and other composers of the time. Since he was so well liked by everyone, and because he was older than most of the other people in the Esterhazy Castle, he was affectionately nick-named “Papa Haydn”. Haydn is the only composer that we’ll study from the Classical period that was actually likable. As we’ll see, Mozart and Beethoven rubbed people the wrong way and made many people angry.
Both Mozart and Beethoven respected Haydn. In fact, Haydn gave music lessons to each of them several times. Here, Haydn is seen giving a lesson to Mozart, with whom he had a very close friendship. After a couple lessons, Haydn told Mozart’s father that Mozart was the best composer he’d ever met. He became good friends with Mozart and was very upset at Mozart’s death at an early age. Haydn also thought Beethoven was a fantastic composer, but they had difficult moments in their relationship. He once remarked to Beethoven “you give me the impression of being a man who has several heads, several hearts and several souls.”
It was called “The Miracle,” because a miracle actually occurred at the premiere of the piece. When the final movement ended, the audience moved forward to praise the composer onstage. At that moment, a large chandelier crashed down in the now empty seats, not injuring a soul. In 1790, Nicholas Esterhazy and his wife died and his son Anton became Prince. Anton was not interested in music and disbanded the orchestra and choir, freeing Haydn from his obligations to the family. Haydn then traveled to London to present some new works to the English people. His first large work was called Symphony No.96 in D, The Miracle. Prince Anton Haydn Haydn traveled to England quite often and they loved him there. He wrote a group of 12 symphonies for performances in London called the London Symphonies.
It was soon after this that news of Mozart's death first reached London. Haydn refused to believe the news. After all, his own death had been rumored several times. About a month later, Haydn learned that the news was true and the loss of his friend who was like a son affected him deeply. Mozart
Around this time, the 22-year-old Beethoven traveled to Vienna to accept Haydn's offer of lessons. Beethoven and Haydn had a somewhat bumpy relationship due to differing interests within musical theory. Beethoven wanted to learn about the technical aspects of music and Haydn was more interested in the emotional impact music had on the audience. Even so, Haydn respected Beethoven's talent and tried to help him stay in Vienna as long as possible. Young Beethoven
To celebrate his 76th birthday, a performance of Haydn’s work, “The Seasons,” was held at Vienna University. Despite his poor health, Haydn managed to attend the celebration with his doctor in a carriage. When Haydn arrived, a crowd of students greeted him, cheering "Long live Haydn!" and a fanfare of trumpets and percussion welcomed him into the concert hall. Unfortunately, Haydn had to leave partway through the performance as he was weakened by all of the excitement.
Haydn died at the ripe old age of 77 in 1809 in Austria. He was born 24 years before Mozart and outlived him 18 years. How old does that make Mozart when he died? Do the math to solve this problem in the white space at the bottom of your sheet? Haydn: b. 1732 Mozart: b. 1756 Mozart: d. 1791 Haydn: d. 1809 35
Pieces to listen to: The End a) Surprise Symphony