Joseph Haydn is one of the epitomes of the classical era, who has cast a hugely influential shadow on chamber music and has been the inspiration for many legends such as Beethoven and Brahms. He is entirely deserves the appellations given to him such as ‘Father of Symphony’ and ‘Father of String Quartet’. His countless symphonies have contributed immensely towards pioneering the Classical style of music.
Born on 31 March, 1732, Haydn spent his childhood in Rohrau, Austria with his musical family. At the young age of six his parents sent him to live with a choirmaster in Hainburg so he could begin his musical training. Haydn fluently began playing the violin and harpsichord and gained attention from St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, where he was recruited to join the choir. His years as a musician at the church taught him a lot, however, he still craved to be more original and in 1749, he left his position and began cultivating his career as a freelancer. Haydn kept growing as a musician over the years since he paid much attention to learning the fundamentals, which he is said to have done under the tutelage of Nicola Porpora.
He began attracting public attention especially after he made his debut as a composer with ‘The Limping Devil’, a comic opera. His skills helped him enter the aristocratic arena of music, which was considered as a hallmark in a composer’s career; He was employed as music director by Count Morzin and then by the famous Esterhazy family in 1761, who he worked with for the next 30 years. During these years not only was he revered by the royal court but also by the music industry which was ever ready to publish his work. Some of his most important pieces were written on requests from abroad such as ‘The Paris Symphonies’ and ‘The Seven Last Words of Christ’.
Soon Haydn became a very popular public figure who always received a very warm welcoming and large audience at his concerts. His demand within Europe also began to reach the skies, for instance, he was given invitations to come to England to compose symphonies. Two of such trips to London proved very successful for Haydn since this is the time when he produced some of his most influential and innovative pieces such as, the ‘Rider Quartet’, ‘Surprise Symphony’, ‘Military Symphony’, ‘London Symphony’ and the ‘Gypsy Rondo’ piano trio. In his later years Haydn began to work part-time with the Esterhazy family and put in more time in cultivating his public career that was reaching new heights every day. During this time Haydn composed two of his most magnificent oratorios, ‘The Creation’ and ‘The Seasons’ and also instrumental music such as the ‘Trumpet Concerto’, ‘Fifths’ and ‘Sunrise’ quartets.
In 1802, the maestro’s health declined to the point where it rendered him incapable to compose and on 31 May 1809, he passed away in Vienna. Haydn was often visited by people and honored during his illness as well. It is reported that Joseph Haydn met Beethoven when he was young and was good a friend of Mozart as well. These legends were greatly influenced by Hayden, one of the essential creators of string quartets. He is often remembered and praised as one of the most high-ranking people in Classical music industry and rightfully so.