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Franz Joseph Haydn

Franz Joseph Haydn

(1732 - 1809)

Of humble origins, Franz Joseph Haydn (March 31, 1732 - May 31, 1809) was born in the village of Rohrau, near Vienna. When he was eight years old he was accepted into the choir school of Saint Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, where he received his only formal education. Dismissed from the choir at the age of 17, he spent the next several years as a struggling free-lance musician. 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 Furnberg, 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.

The turning point in Haydn's fortunes came in 1761, when he was appointed assistant music director to Prince Pal Antál Esterházy; he became full director, or Kapellmeister, in 1762. Haydn served under the patronage of three successive princes of the Esterházy family. The second of these, Pal Antál's brother, Prince Miklós Jozsef Esterházy, was an ardent, cultivated music lover. At Esterháza, his vast summer estate, Prince Miklós could boast a musical establishment second to none, the management of which made immense demands on its director. In addition to the symphonies, operas, marionette operettas, masses, chamber pieces, and dance music that Haydn was expected to compose for the prince's entertainment, he 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, and settle disputes among the musicians in his charge. 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 Miklós in 1790, his son, Prince Antál, greatly reduced the Esterházy musical establishment. Although Haydn retained his title of Kapellmeister, he 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 "Salomon" or "London" symphonies, they include several of his most popular works: "Surprise" (#94), "Military" (#100), "Clock" (#101), "Drum Roll" (#103), and "London" (#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.

Haydn was prolific in nearly all genres, vocal and instrumental, sacred and secular. Many of his works were unknown beyond the walls of Esterháza, most notably the 125 trios and other assorted pieces featuring the baryton, a hybrid string instrument played by Prince Miklós. Most of Haydn's 19 operas and marionette operettas were written to accommodate the talents of the Esterháza company as well as the tastes of his prince. Haydn freely admitted the superiority of the operas of his young friend Wolfgang Mozart. In other categories, however, his works circulated widely, and his influence was profound. The 107 symphonies and 68 string quartets that span his career are proof of his ever-fresh approach to thematic materials and form, as well as of his mastery of instrumentation. His 62 piano sonatas and 43 piano trios document a growth from the easy elegance suitable for the home music making of amateurs to the public virtuosity of his late works.

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 folkloric 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.

Haydn's signature

Recommended Recordings

Concertos for Cello

Cello Concertos, Hob VIIb:1 & 2/Philips 420923-2
Heinrich Schiff (cello), Neville Marriner/Academy of St. Martin-In-The-Fields
Cello Concertos, Hob VIIb:1 & 2/Sony SK36674
Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Jose Luis Garcia/English Chamber Orchestra
Cello Concerto, Hob VIIb:1 (w/ Symphonies)/Delos D/CD3062
János Starker (cello), Gerard Schwarz/Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Concertos for Horn

2 Horn Concertos, Hob VIId:3 & 4/Nimbus NIM5010
Michael Thompson (horn), Michael Warren-Green/Philharmonia Orchestra
Horn Concerto, Hob VIId:3 (w/ Trumpet Concerto)/L'Oiseau-Lyre 417610-2
Timothy Brown (horn), Christopher Hogwood/Academy of Ancient Music

Concertos for Keyboard

Piano Concertos #2-4 & 9 (w/ Sonatas)/Vox Music Group CDX 5017
Ilse von Alpenheim (piano), Antál Doráti/Bamberg Symphony Orchestra

Core Repertoire - Start Here! Concerto for Trumpet

Trumpet Concerto, Hob VIIe:1 (w/ Horn Concertos)/Nimbus NIM5010
John Wallace (trumpet), Michael Warren-Green/Philharmonia Orchestra
Trumpet Concerto, Hob VIIe:1 (w/ Horn Concerto)/L'Oiseau-Lyre 417610-2
Timothy Brown (horn), Christopher Hogwood/Academy of Ancient Music
Trumpet Concerto, Hob VIIe:1/Philips 420203-2
Hakan Hardenberger (trumpet), Neville Marriner/Academy of St. Martin-In-The-Fields

Concertos for Violin

Violin Concertos, Hob VIIa:1, 3 & 4/Archiv 427316-2
Simon Standage (violin), Trevor Pinnock/The English Concert

The Creation (oratorio)

The Creation ("Die Schöpfung")/Philips 416449-2
Edith Mattias, Aldo Baldwin, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Neville Marriner/Academy & Chorus of St. Martin-In-The-Fields
The Creation ("Die Schöpfung")/L'Oiseau-Lyre 417610-2
Emma Kirkby, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Michael George, Christopher Hogwood/Academy of Ancient Music Orchestra & Choir and Oxford New College Choir
The Creation ("Die Schöpfung")/Vox Music Group CDX 5025
Wolfgang Gonnenwein/Orchestra of the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele & South German Madrigal Choir

Mass #10 ("Paukenmesse")

Mass in Time of War ("Paukenmesse")/Philips 412734-2
Judith Blegen, Brigette Fassbaender, Leonard Bernstein/Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra & Chorus

Mass #11 ("Nelson")

"Nelson" Mass (w/ Vivaldi Gloria)/London Jubilee 421146-2
Sylvia Stahlman (soprano), Helen Watts (contralto), Wilfred Brown (tenor), Tom Krause (baritone), David Willcocks/London Symphony Orchestra & Choir of King's College, Cambridge
"Nelson" Mass & Te Deum/Archiv 423097-2
Felicity Lott, Carolyn Watkinson, Trevor Pinnock/The English Concert & Choir

Core Repertoire - Start Here! String Quartets Op. 71, 74, Core Repertoire - Start Here!76 & 77 (76/3 "Emperor")

6 Quartets #54-59 "Apponyi" Op. 71 & 74 /Hungaroton HCD12246/7-2
Tatrai Quartet
6 Quartets #60-65 "Erdody" Op. 76/Deutsche Grammophon 415867-2
Amadeus Quartet
2 Quartets #66 & 67 "Lobkowitz" Op. 77/Hungaroton HCD11776-2
Tatrai Quartet
2 "Apponyi" Quartets #1 & 2, Op. 71 #1 & 2/Hyperion CDA66065
The Salomon String Quartet
2 "Apponyi" Quartets #3 & 4, Op. 71 #3 and Op. 74 #1/Hyperion CDA66098
The Salomon String Quartet
2 "Apponyi" Quartets #5 & 6, Op. 74 #2 & 3 (The Rider)/Hyperion CDA66124
The Salomon String Quartet
3 Quartets #66 & 67 "Lobkowitz" Op. 77 #1 & 2 and Op. 103/Hyperion CDA66348
The Salomon String Quartet

The Seasons (oratorio)

The Seasons ("Die Jahreszeiten")/Archiv 431818-2
Barbara Bonney, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, John Eliot Gardiner/English Baroque Soloists & Monteverdi Choir
The Seasons ("Die Jahreszeiten")/Vox Music Group CDX 5045
Wolfgang Gonnenwein/Orchestra of the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele & South German Madrigal Choir

Sonatas (miscellaneous) for Piano

6 Early Sonatas #1-3, 5, 6 & 9/Partridge 1122-2
Anthony Kooiker (piano)
5 Sonatas #8, 9, 11, 13 & 16/Koch Schwann CD310094H1
Christine Faron (fortepiano)
4 Sonatas #20, 29, 31 & 33/Hungaroton HCD11618-2
Zoltán Kocsis (piano)
6 Sonatas #34-38/Albany TROY045
Lola Odiaga (fortepiano)
6 Sonatas #39-41, 48, 49 & 51/Albany TROY062
Lola Odiaga (fortepiano)
3 Sonatas #50, 54 & 62/Philips 416365-2
Alfred Brendel (piano)

Core Repertoire - Start Here! Symphonies (6-8, Core Repertoire - Start Here!45, 88, Core Repertoire - Start Here!94, 100, Core Repertoire - Start Here!101, 103, Core Repertoire - Start Here!104)

3 Symphonies, #6 "Le Matin", 7 "Le Midi" & 8 "Le Soir"/Archiv 423098-2
Trevor Pinnock/The English Concert
6 Symphonies, #42, 45 "Farewell", 46, 47, 51 & 65/CBS M3K39685
Derek Solomons/L'Estro Armonico
6 Symphonies, #35, 38, 39, 49 "La Passione", 58 & 59 "Fire"/CBS M2K37861
Derek Solomons/L'Estro Armonico
3 Symphonies, #70-72/Hyperion CDA66526
Roy Goodman/Hanover Band
3 Symphonies, #73 "La Chasse", 74 & 75/Hyperion CDA66520
Roy Goodman/Hanover Band
3 Symphonies, #76-78/Hyperion CDA66525
Roy Goodman/Hanover Band
3 "Paris" Symphonies, #82 "The Bear", 83 "The Hen" & 84 "In Nomine Domini"/Virgin Classics Veritas VC790793-2
Sigiswald Kuijken/Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment
3 "Paris" Symphonies, #85 "La Reine de France", 86 & 87/Virgin Classics Veritas VC790844-2
Sigiswald Kuijken/Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment
2 Symphonies, #91 & 92 "Oxford"/Philips 410390-2
Colin Davis/Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam
2 "London" Symphonies, #94 "Surprise" & 96 "Miracle"/L'Oiseau-Lyre 414330-2
Christopher Hogwood/Academy Of Ancient Music
12 "London" Symphonies, #93-104/Deutsche Grammophon 437201-2
Eugen Jochum/London Philharmonic Orchestra

Trios for Flute & Strings (various)

4 "London" Trios & 2 Divertimentos Op. 100/2,6/CBS MK37786
Jean-Pierre Rampal (flute), Isaac Stern (violin), Mstislav Rostropovich (cello)
6 Trios (transcribed from baryton trios)/Accent ACC68641D
Kuijken Barthold (flute), Sigiswald Kuijken (violin), Wieland Kuijken (cello)
6 Trios, Op. 38/Accent ACC47807D
Kuijken Barthold (flute), Sigiswald Kuijken (violin), Wieland Kuijken (cello)

Trios for Piano & Strings (various)

43 Trios, Divertimentos & Partitas (complete piano trios)/Philips 432061-2
Beaux Arts Trio
3 Trios, Hob XV:12-14/Harmonia Mundi HMC901277
Patrick Cohen (fortepiano), Erich Hobarth (violin), Christophe Coin (cello)
3 Trios #16-18 Op. 70, Hob XV:18-20/Harmonia Mundi HMC901314
Patrick Cohen (fortepiano), Erich Hobarth (violin), Christophe Coin (cello)
3 Trios, Hob XV:35-37/Harmonia Mundi HMC901400
Patrick Cohen (fortepiano), Erich Hobarth (violin), Christophe Coin (cello)