Franz Joseph Haydn

Franz Joseph Haydn

Franz Joseph Haydn, often called "Father of the Symphony," spent most of his career away from the big city.  Working for his patrons, the Esterhazy family, he had a room at their palace in Eisenstadt (in the eastern part of Austria) and at Esterhaza (in northwestern Hungary).

Governed by a specific contract, which did not give him the type of respect he would receive today, Haydn nevertheless flouished in his rural environment. 

This excerpt, from a brief NPR biography about him, tells us why:

He worked and smiled through a thousand indignities. Chief among them: In service to the aristocratic Esterhazy family, Haydn's position on the organizational chart placed him among the kitchen staff. Even as Kapellmeister, Haydn wore a lackey's uniform.

Haydn's princely employer died in 1790, and his successor had no interest in a composer's services. Laid off after thirty years, with a decent severance and a handshake, Haydn confronted a pleasant surprise. His faithful and creative grindstone-tending (92 symphonies at that point, plus dozens of string quartets, masses, operas) had built his reputation in the wider world.

An impresario [it was the violinist, Johann Peter Salomon] came knocking on his door, asking, "Have you considered London, sir?"

Before, his symphonies had been, with scattered exceptions, written for home occasions — for the pride of the Esterhazy "brand." Now, they could be for the glory of Haydn; to show this wider world what he could do. And why not? He had worked at his craft, mastered its forms and still had untapped reserves of invention. Nearing sixty, Haydn was ripe, like a tasty new fruit from the frontier. And in a marvel of pre-industrial pickling, he would remain so, without withering, for the final two decades of his life.   (Bill Morelock, Haydn In Concert: Cue The 'Drum Roll')

It was that post-Esterhazy Haydn whom Beethoven met in Vienna.  This portrait, by Thomas Hardy, depicts Haydn as he appeared in 1792 - at about the time he worked with Beethoven.

See, also:

Hayden - Video Clips from "The Creation"

Haydn's Home in Vienna

Hayden's Signature (in Italian)

Media Credits

This portrait of Haydn was painted by Thomas Hardy in 1792.  Online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


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"Franz Joseph Haydn" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Oct 21, 2019.
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