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Franz Joseph Haydn

Haydn, Franz Joseph (fränts yōˈzĕf hĪˈdən) [key], 1732–1809, Austrian composer, one of the greatest masters of classical music. As a boy he sang in the choir at St. Stephen's, Vienna, where he received his principal musical training. He struggled in poverty for years, earning a meager living as a teacher and accompanist. Eventually, his compositions came to the attention of some of Vienna's music-loving aristocrats, and under their patronage his career progressed rapidly. Most of his prodigious musical output was produced during the 29 years of his service as musical director to the princes Esterházy, beginning in 1761. During the 1780s, when he received commissions from London and Paris and honors from all over Europe, he formed a close friendship with Mozart, an association that influenced the music of each. In 1791 and 1794 he made lucrative visits to London, where he held concerts featuring his own music. During this period he wrote the 12 so-called Salomon Symphonies (after the impresario who had arranged his tours), much chamber music, and a large number of songs with English texts. Haydn's works are notable for their originality, liveliness, optimism, and instrumental brilliance. He established the basic forms of symphonic music and string quartet, which were to be a model and inspiration for the works of Mozart, and of Beethoven, who studied under Haydn. Important in the development of the classic sonata form, his string quartets and symphonies expanded the three-movement sonata form of C. P. E. Bach, adding one or two minuets before the last movement. Two great oratorios, The Creation (1798) and The Seasons (1801), were written in his old age. His works include over 100 symphonies, many known by such names as the Farewell Symphony (1772), the Surprise Symphony (1791), the Military Symphony (1794), and the Clock Symphony (1794); over 80 string quartets; much other chamber music; more than 50 piano sonatas; and numerous operas, masses, and songs.

See biographies by L. Nohl (1902, 7th ed. 1971), R. Hughes (rev. ed. 1978), and K. and I. Geiringer (3d ed. 1982); C. Rosen, The Classical Style (1972); H. C. R. Landon, The Symphonies of Joseph Haydn (1955), Haydn: Chronicle and Works (5 vol., 1976–80).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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