Classical Composers

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Classical Composers

Franz Joseph Haydn

Haydn, born March 31, 1732, was one of three boys born to Mathias Haydn and Anna Maria Koller. Everyone in Haydn's family seemed to be musically inclined. Haydn's father played the harp while his mother sand the melodies. Haydn's brother Michael composed music and his youngest brother Johann sang tenor in the church choir.

When Haydn was eight years old, Johann Franc, being impressed by Haydn's voice, insisted that Mathias and Anna Maria allow Haydn to move to Vienna and study music and to serve as a choirboy in the Cathedral of St. Steven. As it was customary for the older choirboys to instruct the younger ones, Haydn trained his younger brother when he joined the choir school three years later. Although Haydn had a great voice, when he went through puberty it was lost. At the age of 18, Haydn was dismissed from the school, penniless.

Haydn earned a living by giving music lessons to children, being a freelance musician, and composing. When he was 25, Haydn was hired as music director for Count Morzin. While under this employment, Haydn wrote 15 symphonies, concertos, and piano sonatas. He married Maria Anna Keller on November 26, 1760. In 1761, Haydn entered the service of the Esterhazy's, the richest and most powerful of the Hungarian noble families. During Haydn's 30 years here, most of his music was composed for performance in the palaces of the family which contained an opera house, a theater, two concert halls, and 126 guest rooms.

From 1791-1792 and 1794-1795, Haydn went to London. This period was the high point of his career, the point at which the servant became the celebrity. Haydn was wined and dined by aristocrats, given an honorary doctorate at Oxford, and received by the royal family. In...