Haydn, Franz Joseph

Nowhere among his many biographies do we find anything disparaging concerning Haydn as a man. He was an affectionate and devoted son, supporting his parents, caring for relations and friends as soon as he was able, making good a loss Michael Haydn suffered in 1801 when the French pillaged Salzburg; a staunch friend, remembering in his will all those who had in any way succored him. His religion was a strong influence in his life; he possessed great faith in the goodness and greatness of an omnipotent and omnipresent Creator. His was a cheerful, joyous religion, whose creed seemed to be to do justice and kindness, and to give to mankind the best expression of the Divine in man. He said when he was composing The Creation, " I never was so devout as then. Daily I prayed for strength to express myself in accordance with His will." His most marked characteristic was his constant aim at perfection in his art. He disliked anything unreal. He knew the power that was his, and toward the end of his life said, " I know that God has bestowed a talent upon  me and thank Him for it. I think I have done my duty and been of use in my generation by my works; let others do the same."

Haydn was first among the great masters to make himself intelligible to the masses. Father, or Papa Haydn was an affectionate term of address applied to him by his younger contemporaries and is significant. He was the father of the sonata form and of the modern symphony, in fact the father of modern instrumental music and of musical humor. His symphonies are known for clearness of style, grace and playfulness; always lucid, finished and free from technical display, serious and profound when occasion demands. He gave impulse to both Mozart and Beethoven as far as their symphony writing is concerned.

Haydn was really the originator of the quartet; it seemed to be a natural means of expressing himself, and his influence on music through it has been greater than that exerted by his symphonies. Although Emanuel Bach was really the reformer of the sonata, Haydn 'left his impress upon it. He wrote many graceful and delicate songs, but they do not display the genius of his other works and many are now forgotten. Of his masses, the Mariazell in C major, and the Cecilia in same key, will always maintain their place among masterpieces of their kind. His operas and other light vocal works seem to have passed away, obscured, as it were, y his greater works. The Creation and The Seasons, which have been performed all over the world and which even in Haydn's time became immensely popular, are the culmination of a long, well-lived life. The following is a partial list of Haydn's compositions: one hundred and twenty-five symphonies; thirty trios for strings and wind; seventy-seven quartets for strings; twenty concertos for clavier; thirty-one concertos for various instruments; thirty-eight trios for piano and strings; fifty-five sonatas and divertissements for clavier; four sonatas for clavier and violin; fourteen masses; one Stabat Mater; eight oratorios and cantatas, nineteen operas; forty-two canons for voice in two or more parts; one hundred and seventy-five pieces for barytone; and a vast collection of other works, numbering over three hundred.