“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. If heed is not paid to this it is not true music but a diabolical bawling and twanging.” -Johann Sebastian Bach
“In The Name Of The Lord”
Who was Franz Joseph Haydn?
Firstly, like his predecessor Bach, he was a man who had respect for his God. Indeed, he would usually dedicate each performance to the glory of God , with such words as “in nomine Domini” (“in the name of the Lord”).
Today we take a snippet into the life of the “most celebrated composer of his time,’ Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 -1809),
– affectionately known as “Papa.”
Haydn has been acclaimed as “the principal engineer of the classical style,” and his influence knew no boundaries. Among those his music impacted were Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven, who was also his student.
Born in Rohrau, Austria in 1732, Haydn – among all his many accomplishments – was the developer of the string quartet. He performed as a keyboardist and had a major influence on symphonic composition.
Chorister At Five
At aged five , Hayden was asked to join the school choir at St.Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. There, he learned singing, harpsichord, violin and theory.
“That boy doesn’t sing, he crows”
However, began to go downhill for Haydn, when, at aged 16, he lost his angelic voice. He left the choir after his voice was described by Habsburg Empress, Maria Theresa, as crowing, instead of singing.
It was later discovered that Haydn had developed Nasal polyps, in which his nose had a bulbous and disfigured look to it. This, at times became so uncomfortable, he was unable to compose.
The Miracle Symphony
During the premiere of Haydn’s symphony No.96, a chandelier fell from the ceiling, but miraculously no one was injured. Thus it became known as the miracle symphony.
Haydn spent several years in London composing symphonies and it was there he created a piece which is still used as the national anthems for both Austria and Germany.
A Musical Prankster
Not only did Haydn have a keen sense of humor, but was also known as a prankster. As a chorister, he cut the pigtail of another boy chorister and was canned in public. This humor also translated into his music such as his string quartet in E-flat (sub-titled the “Joke”), in which there are false endings in an effort to “catch” the audience.
Napoleon & Haydn
In 1809, Napoleon invaded Vienna. However, Haydn, now ailing, had gained such respect all across Europe that he was given protection. In fact, Napoleon had assigned two sentries to guard Haydn so that he wouldn’t have to move.
Friends, contemporaries, and musical greats, Mozart and Haydn invited each other to their musical performances. In fact, so strong was the bond that Mozart’s Requiem was the music played at Haydn’s funeral in 1809.
Any comments, questions and suggestions will be are greatly appreciated.
Sources: San Francisco Classical Voice & Classic FM, the world’s greatest music.