Haydn, Franz Joseph
b Rohrau, Lower Austria 1732, d Vienna 1809. The firstborn of the 20 children of a rural and musical couple, a wheelwright and a cook; elder brother of JMH, qv. He became a choirboy in Vienna Cathedral, and when his voice broke he began to teach privately, playing the violin in one church and the organ in another, gradually moving from comparative poverty to a position of respect and influence. From 1760 (when he wrote his first symphony) to 1790 he was Kapellmeister for the Esterhazy family, leading an orchestra and choir, employing soloists and presenting operas. He became recognised as the finest living composer, while often unconscious of his own fame and a devoted admirer of his younger contemporary and friend W A Mozart, who for his part greatly admired Haydn. Living in London for 18 months in 1791–92 (Hon DMus, Oxford) and again 1794–95, he was widely honoured in UK where he was able to conduct his own symphonies. The Prince of Wales (the future George IV) entertained him on the ’cello; so did the astronomer Wm Herschel, one of his former oboists, with long hours spent marvelling at the night sky. He also toured several other European countries in a career mainly free of the troubles which afflicted so many other great composers. He settled in his Vienna cottage, composing his oratorio The Creation (at which he had laboured for 3 years ‘with a sort of reverential humility’) in 1798; his 800 or so works include over 100 symphonies, some 80 string quartets and more than 50 sonatas; oratorios The Seasons, 1801), cantatas, some less successful operas, and songs. Some of his greatest works are annotated with expressions of dedication and thanksgiving to God. Nos.195, 711.