Haydn, Franz Joseph

In 1755 came the first great opportunity of his career. Karl Joseph Edler von Fürnberg invited Haydn to his country house at Weinzirl, near Melk. He found the usual countryhouse orchestra, consisting of a few strings, a couple of horns and oboes. He saw his opportunity, made use of the principles gained by his study of Bach and applied them to the needs of a miniature orchestra. Here he produced his quartets which are printed in the Paris and London editions. After his year with yon Furnberg he spent some time in Vienna teaching and composing principally for Countess Thun, an enthusiastic amateur musician, who had earlier been attracted by one of his sonatas. She sent for him and engaged him to give her harpsichord and singing lessons. Through Countess Thun and Fürnberg he was introduced to Count Ferdinand Maximilian Morzin, a very wealthy Bohemian nobleman and a lover of music. He appointed Haydn his music-director and composer in 1757. He went to Morzin's home at Lukavec, near Pilsen, where he found a very fair orchestra. This was an important stage of his life. He found opportunity of experimenting in orchestral work. Here he wrote the symphony in D which reflects Bach but at the same time foreshadows the future style of the composer, and was the forerunner of one hundred and twenty-five symphonies. He also at this period composed other concerted works, among them divertimenti.

Prince Paul Esterhazy, after hearing some of Haydn's compositions, invited him to Eisenstadt after Morzin was obliged to disband his orchestra. The contract between Esterhazy and Haydn is still in existence. He went to Eisenstadt in 1761 as second musical director to the great princely family of Esterhazy, one of the most wealthy and influential of the noble families of Hungary. Prince Paul died after Haydn's residence in the family of one year, and Prince Nicholas succeeded him. The demands upon Haydn were severe, but in return he had many advantages. He came in contact with many clever people who were either social or professional guests of Esterhazy. He had a good orchestra at his command, for which he was obliged to compose incessantly. This incited him to close study, and it was during the thirty years with the Esterhazys that he produced many of his masterpieces of chamber and orchestral music.

From 1761 to 1776 Haydn lived at Eisenstadt as second director, and then upon the death of Werner became head director at Eisenstadt, and remained until 1786. While a resident there many honors were conferred upon him. In 1780 the Philharmonic Society of Modena elected him a member; in 1784 Prince Henry of Prussia sent him a gold medal and his portrait in return for six quartets which Haydn had dedicated to him. King Frederick William II. gave him, in 1787, a diamond ring in recognition of his merit as a composer. In 1785 he was commissioned by the chapter of the Cathedral of Cadiz to write music appropriate for Good Friday. The result was The Seven Words of Jesus on the Cross, sometimes called The Passion, a work Haydn declared to be one of his most successful efforts. It was at first composed as an instrumental work, and as such was produced in London by Haydn as a Passione instrumentale. He afterwards introduced solos and choruses. In 1797 it was given at Eisenstadt and four years later published in the new form with a preface by the composer.