Franz Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809) is the father of the Viennese Classic. Haydn was not born in Vienna, but in the village of Rohrau in the eastern part of Lower Austria on 31st March.
Various paternity charges have been levelled at the composer Haydn. His career coincided with the development of classical style and forms, with the symphony, sonata, string quartet and other instrumental forms, in the moulding of which he played an important part. Born in Rohrau in 1732, the son of a wheelwright, he was trained as a chorister at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, where he made his early living, before appointment to the small musical establishment of Count Morzin in 1759. In 1760 he entered the service of the Esterházy Princes, and succeeded to the position of Kapellmeister on the death of his predecessor and immediate superior Gregorius Werner in 1766. Much of Haydn's life now centred on the magnificent palace and estate at Esterháza, where his employer Prince Nikolaus Esterházy had moved his entourage for most of the year. The death of the Prince in 1790 released Haydn and allowed travel to London. There followed further service of the successors of Prince Nikolaus, now at the former residence at Eisenstadt, and concluding retirement in Vienna, where he died in 1809, as the soldiers of Napoleon again entered the city.
It was Haydn’s voice which first brought him to the capital to join the choir of St. Stephen’s cathedral. When his voice broke, the young Haydn had to leave the choir, and he began to earn a living by giving lessons and playing in various orchestras. At the same time he studied piano and composition. From 1761 to 1790 he was court conductor to Prince Esterházy, first in Eisenstadt and later in Fertod. Haydn enjoyed tremendous success in London, which he visited twice on concert tours. Nevertheless, he turned down a position offered to him by King George III.
Haydn composed over one hundred symphonies, of which the "Drum Roll" is probably the most famous, in addition to seventy string quartets and several operas. The oratorio "The Creation", the libretto for which he brought with him from London, is one of the supreme examples of his powers of artistic creation. Haydn died on 31st May 1809 in Vienna.