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Franz Joseph Haydn

Franz Joseph HaydnFRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN (1732 – 1809) is one of the three great composers of the Classical period, centered in Vienna, and one of the most creative and resourceful composers in the history of music. Born more than 20 years before Mozart and almost 40 years before Beethoven, “Papa Haydn” (as named by Mozart) greatly influenced the two younger composers.

It was Haydn who developed the symphony, the string quartet and the piano sonata into complex and meaningful structures, laying the foundation for Beethoven and Brahms and other great symphonic composers who followed him. Many composers still write music based on the models developed by Haydn more than 200 years ago.

Haydn was born to a musical family living in modest circumstances in Rohrau, Austria, a rural community where Slavonic folk music was to be heard. Haydn was sent at the age of 8 to Vienna to become a choirboy at Saint Stephen’s Cathedral; this beginning of his musical education was predominantly Austrian and urban. The Cathedral provided Haydn with musical instruction, and he learned to play harpsichord, organ and violin. After his voice changed and he was forced to leave the choir, Haydn spent 10 difficult years earning a living as a musician, while studying composition under J.J. Fux and C.P.E. Bach.

Haydn died peacefully in his sleep in Vienna, attended by a guard of honor outside his house. Haydn’s gravestone is at its original place, today called Haydn Park in the 12th district of Vienna. A memorial was created in the house where he died in the 6th district of Vienna, and the Haydn Museum was located in the house where he lived in Eisenstadt, Austria. In 1820, his body was taken to the Bergkirche in Eisenstadt, where there is a mausoleum with a marble sarcophagus.


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