Franz Joseph Haydn

Selection from "Symphony No.104 in D Major"

Haydn grew up in a musical family who lived in Rohrau, Austria, where he was born on March 31, 1732. His parents often invited neighbors to their home, where they gave impromptu concerts. When he was 5 years old, Haydn was sent to live with a relative for comprehensive music instruction. When he was 8 years old, Haydn became a chorister at St. Stephen's Cathedral, where he stayed until his voice broke at age 17.

After leaving St. Stephen's, Haydn was forced to fend for himself in Vienna, where he taught music and played the violin. In 1752, Haydn met Nicola Porposa, a singing teacher and composer, who gave him singing instruction in return for Haydn serving as his house servant and accompanist. Through this arrangement, Haydn met some of Vienna's most prominent composers. In 1759, Haydn went to work for Count Ferdinand Maximilian von Morzin, as Kapellmeister, where he created his first symphony. In 1761, he became second Kapellmeister for Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy. Later, he assumed the post of first Kapellmeister, a position he retained for 25 years.

Haydn composed a vast number of operas, masses, symphonies, quartets, concertos, and sonatas. In 1781, Haydn met Mozart, and familiarity with his music brought a new technique and style to Haydn's compositions.

In 1790, Haydn left his position upon the death of Prince Esterhazy, and went to live in Vienna. He traveled to London in 1790 and again in 1794 to direct concerts that featured his compositions. The 12 London Symphonies are described as the crowning achievement of his vast symphonic output. In 1797, Haydn was commissioned to write a patriotic hymn, and he produced Gott, erhalte Franz, den Kaiser. Since then the hymn has become the Austrian national anthem. Haydn conducted his last concert in 1803 before his health began to deteriorate. He died on May 31, 1809.

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