Franz Joseph Haydn, referred to as the “Father of the Classical Period,” was a musician, choirboy, husband and one of the notable and prolific composers of all time. He became rich composing music despite being born from a simple family. Here are 10 Interesting Facts about Franz Joseph Haydn.
1. Personal Facts
Franz Joseph Haydn was born in a village in Austria on March 31, 1732 from poor parents. His father, Mathias Haydn was a master wheelwright while his mother, Maria Kohler Haydn, was an under-cook for an aristocratic family of Count Harrach. Haydn had 11 other siblings but six of them died in infancy. He was married to Maria Anna Theresia Keller.
2. Family of Musicians
Haydn was also the brother of another highly regarded prolific composer of secular music, Johann Michael Haydn and Johann Evangelist Haydn, a tenor and the youngest of the siblings.
3. Early Life
At an early age, Haydn showed signs of being gifted in music. They had a relative who was a choirmaster and the family decided that the young Haydn should learn music and at the age of six, he went to live with his relative. He learned to play the violin and the harpsichord. Haydn also became a choirboy.
4. On Pranks
Haydn also had a funny side in him and he loved to prank other boys. In one of his practical jokes, he cut the ponytail of another choir member which resulted to him being sent to live in the streets.
5. His Marriage
Records of his marriage show that he married Maria Anna Keller on November 26, 1760 in the Eligius Chapel in Vienna, the St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Keller was the eldest daughter of her parents who was given music lessons by Haydn. An interesting story behind this is that Haydn was really in love with the younger sister of Anna, Therese, who entered the convent to become a nun, thus, he went to marry Anna.
6. What People Affectionately Call Him
He was given the nickname “Papa” Haydn for several reasons. One of which was his affection for his mischievous orchestra musicians whom he would defend while in the court of Prince Esterhazy. He is also referred to as the “Father of the String Quartet” and the “Father of the Symphony”, despite not being the inventor of both.
7. Relation to Mozart and Beethoven
He was friends with another composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and was even cited as having a bit influence in the music of Mozart, who was very much younger than him. Beethoven, on the other hand, studied music with Haydn in the 1700s but it was short-lived since the latter was too busy with his work.
8. His Works
The Austrian composer was able to write 107 symphonies, including the “Surprise” Symphony No. 94 and “London” Symphony (No. 104). He also wrote 45 piano trios, 62 piano sonatas, 14 masses, 83 string quartets and 26 operas.
9. About His Death
Haydn died at the age of 77 on May 31, 1809 from an undiagnosed illness. His health gradually declined and he was said to have suffered from dizziness and swollen legs, among others.
10. Bits and Pieces
Other interesting facts about Haydn include his short stature and his looks. He was also almost castrated when he was young but did not push through. Haydn was also said to be greedy when it comes to his business dealings, thus, he became rich. Lastly, Haydn was said to be re-buried several times, the last was in 1954.
Haydn must not have reached the stature of Mozart as a composer but he remains to be one of the greatest composers in the 18th century or perhaps, of all time.