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Franz Josef Haydn

March 31, 1732 - May 31, 1809
born in Rohrau, Austria, composed during the Classical period
Franz Joseph Haydn is the composer who, more than any other, epitomizes the aims and achievements of the Classical era. Perhaps his most important achievement was that he developed and evolved in countless subtle ways the most influential structural principle in the history of music: his perfection of the set of expectations known as sonata form made an epochal impact. In hundreds of instrumental sonatas, string quartets, and symphonies, Haydn both broke new ground and provided durable models; indeed, he was among the creators of these fundamental genres of classical music. His influence upon later composers is immeasurable; Haydn's most illustrious pupil, Beethoven, was the direct beneficiary of the elder master's musical imagination, and Haydn's shadow lurks within (and sometimes looms over) the music of composers like Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Brahms.

Part and parcel of Haydn's formal mastery was his famous sense of humor, his feeling for the unpredictable, elegant twist. In the Symphony No. 94 ("Surprise") (1791), the composer tweaks those audience members who typically fall asleep during slow movements with the sudden, completely unexpected intrusion of a fortissimo chord during a passage of quietude. Haydn's pictorial sense is much in evidence works like his epic oratorio The Creation (1796-1798), in which images of the cosmos taking shape are thrillingly, movingly portrayed in tones. By one estimate, Haydn produced some 340 hours of music, more than Bach or Handel, Mozart or Beethoven. Few of them lack some unexpected detail or clever solution to a formal problem.

Haydn was prolific not just because he was a tireless worker with an inexhaustible musical imagination, but also because of the circumstances of his musical career: he was the last prominent beneficiary of the system of noble patronage that had nourished European musical composition since the Renaissance. Born in the small Austrian village of Rohrau, he became a choirboy at St. Stephen's cathedral in Vienna when he was eight. After his voice broke and he was turned out of the choir, he eked out a precarious living as a teenage freelance musician in Vienna. His fortunes began to turn in the late 1750s as members of Vienna's noble families became aware of his music, and on May 1, 1761, he went to work for the Esterházy family. He remained in their employ for the next 30 years, writing many of his instrumental compositions and operas for performance at their vast summer palace, Esterháza.

Musical creativity may often, it is true, meet a tragic end, but Haydn lived long enough to reap the rewards of his own imagination and toil. The Esterházys curtailed their musical activities in 1790, but by that time Haydn was known all over Europe and widely considered the greatest living composer. (He himself deferred to Mozart in that regard, and the friendly competition between the two composers deepened the music of both.) Two trips to London during the 1790s resulted in two sets of six symphonies each (among them the "Surprise" symphony) that remain centerpieces of the orchestral repertoire. Haydn's final masterpieces included powerful choral works: the Creation and Seasons oratorios and a group of six masses. Haydn stopped composing in 1803, after which he prefaced his correspondence with a little musical quotation (from one of his part-songs) bearing the text "Gone is all my strength; I am old and weak." He died in Vienna on May 31, 1809. ~ Rovi Staff, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Great Haydn Symphonies

Disc 1
Title: Symphony No. 6 In D Major ("Le Matin"), H. 1/6
Title: Symphony No. 45 In F Sharp Minor ("Farewell"/"candle"/"letter B"), H. 1/45
Title: Symphony No. 48 In C Major ("Maria Theresia"), H. 1/48
Disc 2
Title: Symphony No. 82 In C Major ("The Bear"), H. 1/82
Title: Symphony No. 92 In G Major ("Oxford"/"letter Q"), H. 1/92
Title: Symphony No. 94 In G Major ("Surprise"/"the Drumstroke"/"mit Dem Paukenschlag"), H. 1/94
x

Track List: Haydn - Armida / Bartoli · Petibon · Prégardien · M. Schäfer · Wier · Harnoncourt

Disc 1
Title: Armida, Opera, H. 28/12
Disc 2
x

Track List: Haydn - Il Ritorno Di Tobia

Disc 1
Title: Il Ritorno Di Tobia, Oratorio For 4 Soloists, Chorus & Orchestra, H. 21/1
Disc 2
Disc 3
x

Track List: Haydn: 6 London Symphonies

Disc 1
Title: Symphony No. 94 In G Major ("Surprise"/"the Drumstroke"/"mit Dem Paukenschlag"), H. 1/94
Title: Symphony No. 100 In G Major ("Military") H. 1/100
Title: Symphony No. 101 In D Major ("Clock"), H. 1/101
Disc 2
Title: Symphony No. 96 In D Major ("Miracle"), H. 1/96
Title: Symphony No. 103 In E Flat Major ("Drumroll"), H. 1/103
Title: Symphony No. 104 In D Major ("London"), H. 1/104
x

Track List: Haydn: 6 String Quartets, op. 76 No.1 No.2 No.3 No.4 No.5 No.6

Disc 1
Title: String Quartet No. 60 In G Major, Op. 76/1, H. 3/75
Title: String Quartet No. 61 In D Minor ("Fifths"/"The Bell'/"The Donkey"), Op. 76/2, H. 3/76
Title: String Quartet No. 62 In C Major ("Emperor"), Op. 76/3, H. 3/77
Disc 2
Title: String Quartet No. 63 In B Flat Major ("Sunrise"), Op. 76/4, H. 3/78
Title: String Quartet No. 64 In D Major ("Largo"), Op. 76/5, H. 3/79
Title: String Quartet No. 65 In E Flat Major, Op. 76/6, H. 3/80
x

Track List: Haydn: 7 London Symphonies

Disc 1
Title: Symphony No. 93 In D Major, H. 1/93
Title: Symphony No. 101 In D Major ("Clock"), H. 1/101
Disc 2
Title: Symphony No. 96 In D Major ("Miracle"), H. 1/96
Title: Sinfonia Concertante For Violin, Cello, Oboe, Bassoon & Orchestra, H. 1/105
Disc 3
Title: Il Mondo Della Luna, Opera, H. 28/7
Title: Symphony No. 98 In B Flat Major, H. 1/98
Title: Symphony No. 100 In G Major ("Military") H. 1/100
Disc 4
Title: Symphony No. 102 In B Flat Major, H. 1/102
Title: Symphony No. 103 In E Flat Major ("Drumroll"), H. 1/103
x

Track List: Haydn: Complete Piano Trios

Disc 1
Title: Piano Trio In F (H. 15 No. 37)
Title: Piano Trio In C (H. 15 No. C1)
Title: Piano Trio In G (H. 14 No. 6 / H. 16 No. 6)
Title: Piano Trio In F (H. 15 No. 39)
Title: Piano Trio In G Minor (H. 15 No. 1)
Disc 2
Title: Piano Trio In F (H. 15 No. 40)
Title: Piano Trio In G (H. 15 No. 41)
Title: Piano Trio In A (H. 15 No. 35)
Title: Piano Trio In E (H. 15 No. 34)
Title: Piano Trio In Eb (H. 15 No. 36)
Title: Piano Trio In Bb (H. 15 No. 38)
Disc 3
Title: Piano Trio In F Minor (H. 15 No. F1)
Title: Piano Trio In D (H. Deest)
Title: Piano Trio In C (H. 14 No. C1)
Title: Piano Trio In F (H. 15 No. 2)
Title: Piano Trio In G (H. 15 No. 5)
Title: Piano Trio In F (H. 15 No. 6)
Disc 4
Title: Piano Trio In D (H. 15 No. 7)
Title: Piano Trio In B Flat (H. 15 No. 8)
Title: Piano Trio In A (H. 15 No. 9)
Title: Piano Trio In E Flat (H. 15 No. 10)
Title: Piano Trio In E Flat (H. 15 No. 11)
Disc 5
Title: Piano Trio In E Minor (H. 15 No. 12)
Title: Piano Trio In C Minor (H. 15 No. 13)
Title: Piano Trio In D (H. 15 No. 16)
Disc 6
Title: Piano Trio In G (H. 15 No. 15)
Title: Piano Trio In F (H. 15 No. 17)
Title: Piano Trio In G (H. 15 No. 32)
Title: Piano Trio In A (H. 15 No. 18)
Title: Piano Trio In G Minor (H. 15 No. 19)
Disc 7
Title: Piano Trio In B Flat (H. 15 No. 20)
Title: Piano Trio In C (H. 15 No. 21)
Title: Piano Trio In E Flat (H. 15 No. 22)
Title: Piano Trio In D Minor (H. 15 No. 23)
Disc 8
Title: Piano Trio In D (H. 15 No. 24)
Title: Piano Trio In G (H. 15 No. 25)
Title: Piano Trio In F Sharp Minor (H. 15 No. 26)
Title: Piano Trio In E Flat (H. 15 No. 31)
Disc 9
Title: Piano Trio In E Flat (H. 15 No. 30)
Title: Piano Trio In C (H. 15 No. 27)
Title: Piano Trio In E (H. 15 No. 28)
Title: Piano Trio In E Flat (H. 15 No. 29)
x

Track List: Haydn: Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons)

Disc 1
Title: Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons), Oratorio, H. 21/3
Disc 2
x

Track List: Haydn: Die Jahreszeiten, Part 1

x

Track List: Haydn: Die Schöpfung (The Creation)

Disc 1
Title: Die Schöpfung (The Creation), Oratorio, H. 21/2
Disc 2
x

Track List: Haydn: Greatest Works

Disc 1
Title: Symphony No. 6 In D Major ("Le Matin"), H. 1/6
Title: Symphony No. 94 In G Major ("Surprise"/"the Drumstroke"/"mit Dem Paukenschlag"), H. 1/94
Title: Trumpet Concerto in E flat major, H. 7e/1
Disc 2
Title: Sinfonia Concertante For Violin, Cello, Oboe, Bassoon & Orchestra, H. 1/105
Title: String Quartet No. 62 In C Major ("Emperor"), Op. 76/3, H. 3/77
Title: Keyboard Trio In G Major ("Gypsy Trio") H. 15/25
x

Track List: Haydn: Harmoniemesse/Salve Regina

Title: Mass For Soloists, Chorus, Organ & Orchestra In B Flat Major ("Harmoniemesse"), H. 22/14
Title: Salve Regina, For Soprano, Chorus, 2 Violins & Organ, In E Major, H. 23b/1