Franz Joseph Haydn


Dear President Schneider :
On behalf of the great Franz Joseph Haydn, I write this letter of recommendation to support the admission of a great composer into the International Enlightenment Society. In order for a musician to be eligible for your society, I understand that he must embody the characteristics of the Enlightenment and more specifically, as a composer, his music must possess the characteristics of the Classical period. I assure you that what you will find in this letter of recommendation will not be disappointing. Franz Joseph Haydn was a great composer of the Classical era. Known as the Father of Symphony and the inventor of string quartets, the examples and styles that Haydn set forth were relied upon by Mozart and Beethoven in creating their own respective masterpieces.

Born in a small town just inside Austrian borders, Haydn did not have much of a chance to be anything other than a wheelwright like his father. However, his father was a man who loved to sing and when Haydn was a boy, he memorized almost every song his father sang. This was his beginning in music. Later on, he received an education from his uncle where he gained more of an interest in music. Participation in a choir gave him the opportunity to go to Vienna and there, he studied the piano sonatas of Emanuel Bach and was given the chance to finally get a chance to compose; something he had always wanted to do. This is when the first string quartet was developed. Later on, he was employed by the Esterhazy family and was given the chance to conduct an orchestra and write symphonies. It was at this time and place that Haydn was "completely isolated from the world?he could experiment?improve, alter, add, or cut as boldly as he pleased." This was the start of a magnificent career.

To understand why Haydn was a great classical composer, it is important to understand the certain characteristics and themes of the Classical Period. Unlike baroque music, classical was secular; it was non-religious and it resided more in the homes of nobles or in public works rather than in the church. There was the creation of symphonies, string quartets, and piano sonatas using a method called the sonata form. Unlike the complicated baroque counterpoint and fugue, there was the galant style, a light hearted, simple, and elegant style to music. However, a style known as the Sturm and Drang also developed at this period dealing in gloomy and depressing music. Most importantly though was the use of dynamics and orchestral color in a thematic way to show emotion very clearly so as not to make music too complicated.
Haydn, as one of the greatest composers of his time, developed many key ideas of the Classical period that are still used today. Many of his major accomplishments portray vividly what they were. He was known was the Father of Symphony creating over a 100 symphonies during his life. His more famous ones include Symphony No.94 part of the London Symphonies and also the Paris Symphonies both of which he performed in public and in the homes of nobles. Symphonies where the uniform genre of the orchestra music in Classical era. Haydn is also considered the inventor of string quartet having brought equality to the four instruments in that quartet that had never really been used in that style before. His greatest works of these include a set of 6 he played for Mozart who was so impressed that he dedicated his "six sons" to Haydn. His best was the "Emperor Quartet" which was used as the Austrian National Anthem. Haydn also was the co-founder of the Sturm and Drang style, gloomy and sad music influenced by the German writers of his time. His greatest work in this department was "Farewell" and possibly "Trauersinfonie." Though of a Baroque genre, his greatest piece was The Creation, an oratorio. Despite being of baroque genre, it was of classical style and has been attributed as one of the most magnificent "classical "oratorios ever.

Being that Haydn was one of the greatest Classical composers in the history of music, it is important to understand not only his work but also what characteristics or themes of Classical music that have been accredited to him as a composer. During the Classical period, three new genres of music were formed.