Haydn, Franz Joseph (1732-1809)

“Papa” Haydn was also known as the father of the symphony (of which he composed 104!) and grandfather of the string quartet. Though he did not invent these forms, he did quite a bit to perfect them with wisdom and good taste. “Papa” Haydn was respected as a man of good character who looked out for those around him, like a good father. His love of learning made him a model of the Enlightenment, but he was not above playing a good practical joke on his peers. Haydn’s genuine curiosity and contentment with life are evident by the joy that is heard in much of his music.

Since God has given me a cheerful heart, He will forgive me for serving Him cheerfully.

~ Franz Joseph Haydn

Though Haydn is now considered a master composer, his first symphony was not written until he was 27, masterpieces were not composed until he was in his 40s and his oratorio The Creation, considered his greatest work by many, was composed by Haydn in his 7th decade. If you ever think it is too late for you to become good at something, study Haydn’s life that you might reconsider!

Haydn’s life spans the end of Johann Sebastian Bach and the Baroque Era through the beginning of Beethoven’s musical explorations into Romanticism. A young Haydn enjoyed the innovative new ideas that the Classical Era of music brought, and an older Haydn suffering from health problems looked longingly as Beethoven increasingly broke through the boundaries of form that Haydn and other Classical composers perfected. Haydn began his career in patronage of the wealthy Esterhazy family, a common means of Baroque composers to earn a living, and ended as a freelance musician, as would become common in the Romantic Era. Young Mozart learned from Haydn, and the two composers admired the work of the other.

Click here to find out what all of those Hob. numbers mean.

Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano in G Major, Hob. XV:15

The Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano in G Major, Hob. XV:15, is a true example of chamber music. Sometimes the flute has the melody in this work while other times it provides flourishes and decorations around the piano melody. Several times the flute echos the piano. All parts interact as equals and the melody flows between instruments,

Video: Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano in G Major, Hob. XV:15

Flute Quartet Op. 5 No. 1 in D major, Hob II:D9

The Flute Quartet instrumentation includes flute, violin, viola and cello. This is very near the string quartet instrumentation (two violins, viola, cello) for which Haydn was so well known. The Flute Quartet Op. 5 No. 1 in D major, Hob II:D9 shows the elegance, clarity and blend that Haydn was known for achieving with this instrumentation.

Video: Flute Quartet Op. 5 No. 1 in D major, Hob II:D9

Divertissement No. 2, Op. 100 Hob. IV:7 for Flute, Violin and Cello

This energetic performance opens with the sound of cheerfulness that you would expect from a composer who said the quote at the top of this page! Listen in the first movement as the melody shifts between the flute and violin, then at times becomes a duet between the two.

Video: Divertissement No. 2, Op. 100 Hob. IV:7 for Flute, Violin and Cello

London Trio No. 1 in C major, Hob IV:1

This trio is performed by two period flutes and cello by the Kuijken Ensemble.

Video: London Trio No. 1 in C major, Hob IV:1

Bonus Listening

Symphony 94 in G Major, Andante “Surprise”

This symphony certainly came from the practical joker in Haydn. The ever so quiet opening makes a “surprise” dynamic change which would have caused his audience to jump a bit the first time and maybe even giggle a bit when they heard it.

Video: Symphony 94 in G Major, Andante “Surprise”

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