Born March 31, 1732 in Rohrau, Austria
Died May 31, 1809 in Vienna, Austria
Franz Joseph Haydn was born in Rohrau, Austria on March 31, 1732. Known as “the father of the symphony,” he composed 108 symphonies and many other works including string quartets and other chamber music, sonatas and concertos for piano and other instruments, oratorios, church music, vocal music, operas, and other orchestral works. Much of his life he spent in service to the Prince of Esterhazy, as musicians in this era depended upon the patronage of the court or church. His music was inventive, original, and for the most part classically optimistic, sometimes reflecting his playful sense of humor:
“That will make the ladies scream.” Haydn, speaking of the “surprise” in the 2nd movement of the Surprise Symphony No. 94.
Speaking of himself he wrote:
‘I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original.”
At one time the teacher of Beethoven, Haydn left an enormous and rich legacy of music and helped define the Classical Era. He died in 1809 in Vienna, following Napoleon’s occupation of the city. In tribute to the dying composer, the conquering emperor posted an honor guard around his house.