Franz Joseph Haydn


November 27, 2021

Franz Joseph Haydn (Rohrau, March 31, 1732 - Vienna, May 31, 1809) was an Austrian composer. One of the greatest exponents of Viennese classicism, he is considered the "father" of the symphony and the string quartet because he wrote works of great instrumental and formal balance. He spent most of his long career in Austria as a choirmaster with the Esterházy family. His vast production includes, among other things, 104 symphonies, 47 entertainments, more than 50 concerts for various instruments and orchestra.



He was the son of Maria Koller and Matthias Haydn, a humble carter, and came from a very large family, of which only his father and six of his children survived, the eldest was named Joseph. Haydn's father took pleasure in singing in his leisure hours, accompanying himself with the harp, an instrument he had learned to play from a miller friend, and little Franz Joseph became more and more passionate about following his father's example. Little Franz's musical abilities were soon recognized and in 1738 he was given the opportunity to study in Hainburg an der Donau, where at the age of six he learned to play the harpsichord and violin, and began to sing the solo soprano parts in the choir of the church. For composition he never had regular teachers who trained him, he studied entirely on his own, as he himself will declare many years later: "I have heard more than studied."


In 1749 Haydn had to leave the cathedral choir after his voice was silent. He remained in Vienna, but a difficult period began for him, of great economic hardship which, according to his first biographers, he was able to face with optimism. He began to put his musical skills to good use by playing for a fee at parties and serenades, giving some lessons, writing his first compositions both in the sacred genre and in that of "consumer" instrumental music (serenades, minuets). Haydn also tried, in every way, to broaden his theoretical and practical basis. The acquaintance of the old and illustrious Neapolitan composer Nicola Porpora was fundamental in this regard, which took place in Vienna when Porpora was visiting the city, who took him into his service as an accompanist on the harpsichord (Porpora gave singing lessons) and as a "valet" in exchange of free lessons. In some autobiographical notes of 1776, Haydn writes: "I did not compose correctly until I was lucky enough to learn the fundamental principles of composition from Mr. Nicola Porpora, who was then in Vienna". The figure of the gruff Porpora resurfaces in a memory reported by Greisinger: "Certainly there was no lack of" donkey "," coglione "," rascal ", or elbows in the kidneys, but I didn't take it, because I learned a lot about singing from Porpora, of composition and Italian. "Another aspect to which the first biographers draw attention is the strenuous self-teaching work: among the texts he later studied, Haydn held in great consideration the Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen, by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, whose first volume had appeared in 1753. He soon became acquainted with Emanuel Bach's first six sonatas for harpsichord, which he learned to perform and above all took as a model - like other subsequent works by that author - from the point of view compositional. He also studied Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum and Johann Mattheson's Der vollkommene Kapellmeister. As his compositional skills progress, Haydn tackles the composition of a Singspiel. Der krumme Teufel was given to the stage in 1753 at the Carinthian Gate Theater in Vienna, but did not have many replicas because the excessive satirical content against well-known characters caused the authorities to order its withdrawal. The music of this first haydnian theatrical rehearsal has been lost. Some strum compositions date back to the same years

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