Haydn in Plain Sight

Haydn in Plain Sight

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period.

His brilliant Trumpet Concerto:

Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family. Being isolated from other composers and trends in music forced him to be original. Yet his music circulated widely, and for much of his career he was the most celebrated composer in Europe.

Haydn Piano Trio no. 44 in E major:

He was a friend and mentor of Mozart, and a tutor of Beethoven.

The Lord Nelson Mass:

Haydn wrote 107 symphonies in total, as well as 83 string quartets, 45 piano trios, 62 piano sonatas, 14 masses and 26 operas, amongst countless other scores. He was instrumental in the development of chamber music such as the string quartet and piano trio.

Cello Concerto No. 1:

The musicians who performed with him called him “Papa” Haydn. The nickname became increasingly meaningful as Haydn’s 30-plus years of service in the Eszterházy court went by; with each year, he became increasingly older than the average musician serving under him. Clemons Höslinger says, “Papa arose as a term of affection, commonly used by the Esterházy players … for a father figure, somebody who willingly gave advice and who was generally respected as a musician.” Eventually, musicians who called Haydn Papa expanded beyond the Esterházy court and included many who admired and acknowledged his work.

Piano Sonata in E-flat major, Hob. XVI/52, L. 62

Another sense of the term “Papa” Haydn came from his role in the history of classical music, notably in the development of the symphony and string quartet. While Haydn did not invent either genre, his work is considered important enough that the labels “Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet” are often attached to him.

The Creation, an oratorio on the scale of Handel’s Messiah:

Perhaps more than any other composer’s, Haydn’s music is known for its humor. The most famous example is the sudden loud chord in the slow movement of his “Surprise” symphony; Haydn’s many other musical jokes include numerous false endings (such as in his quartets Op. 33 No. 2 and Op. 50 No. 3), and the whimsical rhythmic play in the trio of the third movement of his string quartet Op. 50 No. 1, movement 3 (Menuetto):

According to Bachtrack, Symphony no. 45 in F sharp minor, “Farewell,” was composed while Haydn’s patron and his court were at the summer palace at Eszterháza in 1772. Their stay had been longer than expected and the musicians were anxious to return to their families back in Eisenstadt, so Haydn sent a not-so-subtle message. During the finale, each musician stopped playing, snuffed out the candle on his music stand and left the stage until only two violinists, Haydn himself and concertmaster, Luigi Tomasini, were left. Message received; the court returned home the following day! 

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

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