Born: March 31, 1732, Rohrau, Austria
Died: May 31, 1809, Vienna, Austria
Franz Joseph Haydn was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms. He was also instrumental in the development of the piano trio and in the evolution of sonata form.
At about seven, Haydn entered the choir school at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. He learns singing, harpsichord, violin, and probably some theory. In 1753, Haydn was introduced to the Italian opera composer Nicola Porpora, who taught him opera composition and introduced him to noble patrons, including the wealthy Esterházy family. A lifelong resident of Austria, Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the Esterházy family on their remote estate. Isolated from other composers and trends in music until the later part of his long life, he was, as he put it, "forced to become original".
Haydn was invited to London for the 1791-92 season, and then returned in 1794-95. The London visits are the high point of his career. He was received as a celebrity and feted by royalty. He composes a wide variety of music for England, including his last 12 symphonies (nos. 93-104) and his last opera, Orfeo ed Euridice.
Joseph Haydn was the brother of Michael Haydn, himself a highly regarded composer, and Johann Evangelist Haydn, a tenor. He was also a close friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.