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Haydn cdc 012

Haydn belongs to the category of infant prodigies, and this was true in everything both music and mischief making. At the age of six he already knew how to play a large number of musical instruments which had been learnt, in his own words, "receiving more blows than food". At the age of eight he had an audition, singing in Italian and German, in order to be admitted to the choir of the Viennese St. Stephen's cathedral.

In payment he received a handful of cherries. At the age of nine he was an altar boy at the funeral of a famous Italian musician who died in poverty a certain Vivaldi by name. At the age of sixteen he was expelled from his choir school for cutting the hair of a choir boy who was standing in front of him he would have had to have left anyway because his voice was breaking. From that moment onwards his existence as a poor student began but he was always careful to absorb whatever he could from the important people he had the fortune to be close to Emanuel Bach, Pietro Metastasio and Nicola Porpora. For this last he also acted as a personal servant. In the meantime he managed to make ends meet by playing in improvised orchestras and by writing "divertimento" pieces. In all this he displayed a great aptitude for every kind of musical activity. His name began to be known amongst the musicians of Vienna and because he was excellent in what he did his fame spread. An appointment which was to last for a very long time found him finally at the court of the Princes Esterhazy, and there he would stay for the next thirty years. Despite this isolation it was from here that he would acquire great renown throughout Eurospe. However, his art touched its highest levels in England a country which, after leaving the Esterhazy household, he visited in 1791 and 1794. London broadened his horizons and rewared him with great successes. He became the darling of English society and in particular of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) who invited him to perform in his residence, Carlton House, in Pall Mall. The last years of Haydn's life were marked by an exceptional artistic fertility and productivity; his masterpieces closed one epoch and begun another. Haydn is considered the leading figure of Viennese Classicism, and the "father" of the symphony, of the sonata and of the quartet, because it was he who achieved their true balance in terms of form and harmony. His merits as an innovator and an "architect of music" are equal to those which he achieved as a composer a composer marked by a personal style of exceptional balance. His notable production covers all the musical forms and includes over one hundred symphonies, eighty quartets and the same number of "divertimentos", two hundred chamber compositions, fifteen masses (another hundred are considered "spurious"), twenty works for theatre and a number of cantatas and lieders.

Essential Chronology

1732: (31 March or 1 April). Born in Rohrau, Lower Austria, to Mathias, a master wheelwright and amateur harp player, and Anna Maria Koller, a cook and music lover, who was gifted with a fine singing voice.

1737: Takes violin and harpsichord lessons from his cousin Johann Natthias Frick, a singing master.

1740 49: Studies at the Schola Cantorum of St.Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna where he learns to sing and to play all the instruments which were then in use. When he leaves this school he meets Pietro Metastasio and Nicola Antonio Porpora whose follower and servant he subsequently becomes. With Porpora he enters into the detailed study of composition and also learns Italian.

1759: He writes the first symphony in D Major and dedicates it to Prince Morzin for whom he conducts a small private orchestra in Pilsen in Bohemia.

1760: He marries Maria Ann Keller but this did not turn out to be a happy choice (Haydn was really in love with her sister Therese).

1761: He joins the service of Paul Anton Esterhazy as chapel vicemaestro.

1762: Paul Anton is succeeded by his brother Nicolaus "the magnificent", an enthusiastic patron of music who would in time display great affection and forbearance towards Haydn.

1775: He composes his first great oratorio "Il ritorno di Tobia".

1780: He signs a contract with the publisher Artaria of Vienna to compose a series of sonatas for the harpsichord. He also has an affair with the Italian singer Luigia Polzelli.

1781: His "Stabat Mater" is a triumph in Paris. He meets Mozart in Vienna and a deep friendship begins between them.

1791: He goes to London, invited by the impressario and violinist Johann Peter Salomon, for a series of concerts in the famous Hanover Square Concert Rooms. He stays in London for eighteen months and during this period he composes six symphonies. In July he receives the title of "Doctor of Music" from the University of Oxford and expresses his gratitude by calling his symphony in G major the Oxford symphony. He composes his last melodrama "Orfeo e Euridice" for the Italian Theatre of London.

1792: A brief meeting in Bonn with the young Beethoven but the two composers would not enjoy a happy relationship. He composes his "quartet in C major op. 74 n. 1", one of the few pieces belonging to a collection personally listed by Haydn.

1791 95: The twelve "London" symphonies (nn. 93 104) see the light which include n. 94 in G major "the surprise", n.96 in D major "the miracle", n. 101 in D major "the clock", and n. 103 in E flat major "the drum roll". The sonata for pianoforte n. 62 in E flat major is also produced.

1796/98: He composes the oratorio "Die Schopfung" ("the Creation") based on the text by Gottfried van Swieten from Milton's "Paradise Lost".

1799/1801: He composes his last oratorio "Die Jahreszeiten" based on "the Seasons" by James Thomson.

1809: He dies (31 May) in Vienna as a result of "general debility" in his home in Kleine Steingasse.

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