Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) were the two great figures of the last quarter of the eighteenth century. They were not men of the same generation, but they were contemporaries in the sense that they influenced one another, and there is a kind of likeness about them which makes them belong together as the outstanding representatives of their own particular period.
That period, known variously as the “Age of Haydn and Mozart,” the “Viennese Period,” or the “Classical Period,” is susceptible to two interpretations, depending upon whether the emphasis is placed on its relation to the preceding or to the succeeding period. If the relation to the preceding period is to be stressed, the age of Haydn and Mozart should properly be called the “Classical Period” because it marks the culmination of the principles of monophonic style and pure independent musical form, the growth of which had marked the period of Gluck, Stamitz, and C.
P. E. Bach. If, on the other hand, its relation to the succeeding period is to be emphasized, it must be looked upon as a transitional period leading to, or forming the beginning of, the “Viennese Period” of Beethoven. In the firest case the formal and stylistic perfection of Mozart, and to a less extent of Haydn, is considered as a culmination, as an end in itself; in the second case that perfection is considered as a necessary but secondary step in an evolutionary chain leading to the achievement of a new expressive medium.
(Sieghard Brandenburg, 1998) Franz Joseph Haydn was born in Rohrau, lower Austria, on March 31, 1732. As a child he went to live in the house of a relative, Johann Matthias Frankh, who gave him a thorough musical training. Between 1740 and 1748 Haydn was a chorister at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. During that period he earned his living by teaching, playing the harpsichord, and doing hack work, but all the while immersing himself deeply into serious music study.
In 1755 he was engaged by Karl Joseph von Furnberg as conductor of his orchestra, for which he wrote various nocturnes and divertimentos. It was during this period that he also created his first string quartets. While employed at the palace of Count Morzin, between 1758 and 1760, he wrote his first symphonies. In 1760 he married Maria Anna Keller, a marriage that proved unhappy from the beginning and soon gave way to a permanent separation. In 1761, Haydn became second Kapellmeister for Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy at his estate in Eisenstadt.
When the Esterhazys built a new palace at Esterhaz, Haydn assumed the status of full Kapellmeister (1766) and held this post for almost a quarter of a century. For the many concert and opera performances at Esterhaz, Haydn produced a vast repertory of compositions in virtually every field and form, arriving at full maturity as creative artist. He rarely left Esterhaz, except for occasional visits to Vienna where he met Mozart and became one of his most devoted friends and admirers.
In 1790, Haydn withdrew from his Esterhaz post and went to live in Vienna. In 1791 and 1794, Johann Peter Salomon, impresario and violinist, invited him to London to lead orchestral concerts. For these performances Haydn wrote twelve celebrated symphonies now identified as the London or Salomon Symphonies. Back in Vienna after the second visit, Haydn wrote in 1797 a patriotic hymn which became the Austrian national anthem. Between 1798 and 1801 he completed two choral masterworks, The Creation and The Seasons, his first attempts at writing oratorios.
He died in Vienna on May 31, 1809, and was buried in the Hundsthurm churchyard; in 1820 his remains were reinterred in the upper parish church of Eisenstadt. (Jay Parini, Brett C. Millier, 1993) HAYDN’S CONNECTION WITH THE ESTERHAZY FAMILY Following the disbanding of Count Morzin’s musical establishment Haydn secured a post in 1761 with the Esterhazy family, thus forming a relationship which was to continue until the end of his life.
First as assistant, and then as first chapelmaster, Haydn was given every incentive necessary to the realization of his genius. Prince Esterhazy was a capable amateur, and in such genial surroundings Haydn gradually developed a remarkable orchestra and a group of singers adequate for the performance of dramatic and religious music. (Ralph De Toledano, 1987) The Esterhazy family, at Eisenstadt and later at Esterhazy, maintained one of the most splendid courts in Europe. Music furnished there, as it did all over Germany, a large part of the entertainment.
Almost daily concerts of chamber and orchestral music, interspersed with marionette operas and true operas, to say nothing of the regular use of music at religious services, kept the time of the prince’s musicians completely filled. Life for men like Haydn was a constant round of concerts, performances and rehearsals, for which most of the music must be composed in otherwise unoccupied moments. The routine was broken by the occasional appearance of troupes of traveling musicians and by the removal of the prince, sometimes accompanied by the whole musical corps, to the capital for the winter season.
Fortunately for Haydn, the trips to Vienna furnished opportunity both for the dissemination of his own works and for him constantly to renew his acquaintance with the musical life of the city which had become the musical center of the whole of Europe. (James E. Perone, 1995) THE MUSIC OF THE ESTERHAZY PERIOD A list of the music composed by Haydn during the twenty-nine years of his active connection with the Esterhazy family would be far too long to be included here.
His compositions ranged over every musical form characteristic of the time: symphonies, operas, Masses, string quartets, piano sonatas, concertos for various instruments with orchestra, and music for numerous other combinations of instruments and voices. The addition of a famous harpist to the musical forces brought forth a series of compositions for harp; having a famous ‘cellist as a member of the orchestra necessitated concertos for ‘cello and orchestra, which Haydn straightway produced; a ball attended by the emperor brought out the whole orchestra with proudly performed new ballroom music.
Haydn stood ready to compose, genially and to the best of his lavish ability, music for any occasion. At the death of Prince Esterhazy in 1790, the musical establishment was disbanded, but Haydn retained his title of “Kappelmeister,” and although he was now free to devote himself to other affairs, he retained an income from his patrons. The story of the rest of his life recounts constantly increasing fame and honor. His works were performed throughout Europe; Naples, Berlin, Madrid, and London were all anxious to hear his latest composition.
Pupils flocked to him, and contemporary composers were almost unanimous in acknowledging his greatness. (David Ewen, 2007 ) LONDON: SYMPHONIES AND ORATORIOS Haydn’s later life was rich in incident, but that aspect must be left to the biographer. The two journeys to London, in 1790-1792 and 1794-1795, during which he composed the twelve great “London” symphonies, and conceived the desire to compose oratorios, are most important from the historical standpoint.
On his first return to Vienna he devoted himself largely to the two oratorios, the Creation, first performed in 1798, and the Seasons, first performed in 1801. In 1803 he made his last public appearance as a conductor, and from then until his death in 1809, in a Vienna conquered by the armies of Napoleon, his life was that of an honored old man gradually succumbing to his infirmities. (Robert L. Marshall, 2003)
David Ewen. Composers of Yesterday; Kessinger Publishing, 2007 James E. Perone. Musical Anthologies for Analytical Study: A Bibliography; Greenwood Press, 1995 Jay Parini, Brett C. Millier. The Columbia History of American Poetry; Columbia University Press, 1993 Ralph De Toledano. “Haydn, Beethoven & Old Instruments”; National Review, Vol. 39, April 10, 1987 Robert L. Marshall. Eighteenth-Century Keyboard Music; Routledge, 2003 Sieghard Brandenburg. Haydn, Mozart, & Beethoven: Studies in the Music of the Classical Period; Clarendon Press, 1998