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Haydn

Classical Period
 
 



Josesph Haydn (1732-1809)


One of the most prolific and prominent composers of the classical period. Ηe produced   an unusually large amount of work which he  pulled  out from court to the general public. He was called "the father of the symphony " and "father of the string quartet." He  also contributed to the development of  piano trio  and  sonata form. He was a close friend of Mozart and  teacher of Beethoven. Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the  Esterházy family at their estate, isolated  from other composers and trends in music. As he said, that is the reason  he was "forced to become original''
He was born in Rohrau, a village that at that time stood at  the border with Hungary. His  parents  were of low social class. None of his  parents could read music. They had noticed that their son was musically gifted and because  Joseph had no chance to be trained well in Rohrau, he was sent to live with a relative family in Hainburg.
Later he became a member of the choir of St. Stephen in Vienna. He had already started writing his own music. At the age of 17 he was dismissed   because he had matured physically and he was  hosted at the home of a tenor. He lived by teaching music and singing , so he was able to continue his studies in music  composition. His favorite composer was C.P.E. Bach.
He had various jobs before entering in Esterhazy court. He was  hired as an escort harpsichordist and teacher. During 1759  he worked as a  musical director for a  Count  and in 1761 he entered in the service of Esterhazy  in Eisenstadt, Hungary. He had already written several symphonies, string quartets and he was married. Although his marriage  did not go well, the social rules of that  time would not allow a divorce.
He worked for the Esterhazy court for about thirty years, until he retired. He led an orchestra of about 20 musicians including  singers for operatic roles and a choir for  Sunday´s liturgy. In the 1760s he acquired a great reputation.
When he retired from the Esterhazy began taking a lot of professional offers  from  abroad. He traveled in Italy and  twice in England. In  England  he learned about Mozart's death.
He composed his last symphony,  the London symphony  in D minor,  in Vienna in 1795. During that year he also took back his old position in the court of Esterhazy, this time as a part-time position.  At that time, however, he was very popular in Vienna and this meant a heavy workload for him. He ended up staying most of the time at home, alone, writing music for public performances. In collaboration with his  librettist and with an appropriate  funding he  composed  his 2 large Oratorios: The "seasons" and "Creation". He also composed the " concerto for trumpet " and the his long series for string  quartets, including  the "fifths", "Emperor", "Sunrise".
He died at the age of 77.
Haydn composed his 104 symphonies within forty  years. The main feature of his music is the development of larger structures out of  small, simple motifs, The music is  often concentrated and musical events unfold quickly. His music is  well-known for the humor governing it.  The most famous example is the sudden fortissimo  during  the slow part of 94th  symphony, "surprise", in G major.
People were talking about an honest man, and -later- for a man who embodied the ideals of the Enlightenment.

                 Haydn: "London" Symphony No. 104 in D major - Movement 4

        
                  London symphonies were composed between 1791-1795


                 Haydn: Symphony No. 94 in G major ("Surprise") - Movement 2




                                           Haydn: "The Joke" Presto

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