20 interesting facts about Joseph Haydn

Joseph Haydn

The Austrian composer Joseph Haydn made an invaluable contribution to the development of classical music. He was once one of the most popular composers in Europe, despite the fact that he spent a significant part of his life working for only one noble family.

Amazing facts about Joseph Haydn

  • Joseph Haydn made a huge contribution to music, but it should be noted separately that it was he who became one of the founders of such musical genres as the symphony and the string quartet.
  • The composer owes part of his passion for music to his parents. They were fond of playing music themselves, and when they discovered their son’s talent, they began to develop it immediately.
  • One of the most outstanding facts of Joseph Haydn’s biography is that the melodies he created formed the basis for the national anthems of two countries at once, Austria-Hungary and Germany.
  • The future composer sang in the Church choir for 9 years in his youth.
  • The young Joseph Haydn wanted to study with the famous composer Nicola Porpora, but he couldn’t afford to pay for the lessons. Then he got a job as Porpora’s servant to be closer to his idol.
J. Haydn
Portrait of Joseph Haydn
  • Nicola Porpora has contributed to the development of Haydn as a composer. He allowed him to sit quietly and listen behind a curtain during private lessons that Porpora had been giving to wealthy clients.
  • Joseph Haydn made up for his lack of musical education with his diligence. He used his spare time to study the works of great composers, to get acquainted with music theory, and to try to compose his first music independently.
  • His first works were small sonatas. H also composed two masses a little later, and then the audience started to pay attention to him at long last.
  • At the age of 27, Joseph Haydn became a Kapellmeister with a small orchestra. Unfortunately, not for long, because his employer dismissed the musicians due to financial difficulties soon.
  • The composer’s wife had no respect for his work. It is known for certain that she used his recordings to light the fireplace, and used music books as a stand for dishes. Haydn wanted to get a divorce, but this was impossible according to the laws of that time.
  • The great composer left no descendants, so his line was ended.
  • Joseph Haydn spent many years of his life working for the influential Hungarian Esterhazy family. The contract was harsh – he had no right to cooperate with other publishers, and the rights to all the works he created were automatically transferred to Esterhazy.
  • The composer, who was bound by the contract, was in a very ambiguous position for many years. He was already famous all over Europe, but the contract required him to remain as Kapellmeister in a “remote Hungarian village”. In total, he worked for the Esterhazy family for about 30 years.
  • Joseph Haydn was personally acquainted with Mozart. Moreover, they were quite close friends.
  • Musicologists usually refer Haydn, along with Mozart and Beethoven, to the “Viennese classical school”, and they place these three composers in the same rank of importance.
Composer Haydn
Haydn spent half his life working for the Esterhazy family
  • Joseph Haydn earned more money in one season in London than in 20 years of service as a Kapellmeister for the Esterhazy family.
  • One of the great composer’s pupils was Beethoven. However, this did not last long because they disliked each other. Haydn considered Beethoven’s music too dark, and Beethoven believed that the teacher was not paying enough attention to him.
  • Joseph Haydn died of an illness in Vienna, Austria, when the city was besieged by Napoleon’s army. The last words he uttered were for his servants. All of a sudden a cannonball had fallen close by, the servants were frightened, and the composer tried trying to calm them down.
  • During his lifetime, Haydn wrote 104 symphonies, 24 operas, 83 string quartets, 52 sonatas, 137 trios, and a huge number of other works of a smaller scale.
  • One of the craters on Mercury is named after Joseph Haydn.

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