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COMPOSERS

Franz Joseph Haydn

Franz Joseph Haydn

La Vera Costanza  Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège  27-01-2012
Franz Joseph Haydn
Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège
2012

Franz Joseph Haydn's life

Franz Joseph Haydn was born in Rohrau, Austria. Haydn’s father served as an assistant or a wheelwright to the village head and his mother was a cook in the Palace of Count Harrach. He showed great musical skills from an early age and he was trained by a schoolmaster at Hainburg, Johann Matthais Frankh. Haydn was introduced to a variety of instruments and began to sing in choirs where he was noticed for being able to hit treble parts with his vocal cords. George Von Reutter, director of music at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna granted him a seat at this prestigious institution and went on to work as a chorister for the next nine years. In 1749, Haydn’s voice seasoned and was no longer fit to sing high, choral parts and was soon after sent away from the institution with the only chance left but pursuing his career as a freelance musician. During this time, he worked hard and tried his hand at different jobs and was finally accepted as an apprentice to the Italian composer Nicola Porpora from whom he learnt the basics of composition. He also made a living by playing the organ in the Bohemian chancellery chapel. Haydn’s popularity began to increase with his number of works. He worked for a freelance court in Vienna and was one of the several musicians at balls and other important court arrangements. He was also summoned by the Countess Thun as her royal keyboard and singing teacher. Haydn was then called to the important country estate, Weinzierl, where he first began to compose his string quartets. This was followed by a brief period of compositions and performances after which he was picked by Count Morzin, in 1757 to be Kappelmeister. Haydn was a composer who embodied classical music in the heart of the renaissance period. His music mirrored the refinement, the elegance and the purity of the era and created a new genre of music. He was among the very few who created different genres of music that defined a new musical period and had considerable influence on composers such as Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Mendelssohn. He was also a key factor in developing the 'Sonata', which became one of the most creative genre of music.

Haydn's Operas

Acide e Galatea (1762), La canterina (1766), La marchesa nespola (1763), Lo speziale (1768), Le pescatrici (1769), L'infedeltà delusa (1773), Philemon und Baucis (1773), L'incontro improvviso (1775), Il mondo della luna (1777), La vera costanza (1779), L'isola disabitata (1779), La fedeltà premiata (1780), Orlando paladino (1782), Armida (1783).

Curiosities

Haydn's La Vera Costanza

To Haydn, who was of humble origins, working for the Prince Esterházy as court musician and living in his magnificent mansion, was a chance to good to be missed. In fact, his contract lasted from 1761 to 1790. In this golden isolation, Haydn personally looked after the representation of many operas, among which eighty eight were his own, both seria and buffa ones. They were shown at the theatre of the castle, which had the most innovative technical resources, considering the period, and also at the puppet theatre, which had quite a bizarre structure. It was here that on the 24th of April 1779, La vera costanza, a three acts drama with a libretto written by Francesco Puttini and revised by Pietro Travaglia, debuted for the very first time, however it was previously put in music by Anfossi.
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