- Papa Haydn - Father of the Symphony [Biography]
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Joseph Haydn

"It is the melody which is the charm of music, and it is that which is most difficult to produce. The invention of a fine melody is a work of genius. "

Haydn was a kindly, fatherly figure, which earned him the nickname "Papa." He is also widely regarded as the "father" of the symphony. While this may not be strictly true, he was the first to write symphonies of real strength and character. Haydn did the same for the string quartet, the piano trio, the keyboard sonata, and other new forms of the Classical period. In his finest music, his bright, vigorous personality shines though.

By the standards of the time, Haydn lived to a ripe old age. When Haydn was born, Bach and Handel were still writing imposing oratorios and operas; by the time he had grown up, things had changed. Exciting new forms of orchestral and instrumental music marked the transition from the Late Baroque to the Classical style. Haydn emerged as the first great master of the Classical period.

Circumstances helped him. During his years of service at the Esterhazy court, often at the palace itself, Haydn had the time and the opportunity to perfect the four-movement symphony, the string quartet, and the keyboard sonata - the pillars of the new Classical style. By the time Haydn left the Esterhazy court, he was already famous.

Haydn died as Napoleon's revolutionary army occupied Vienna. By then, Beethoven had already written some of his own most revolutionary works. But in a less spectacular way, Haydn, too, was at the heart of a period of dramatic musical and cultural change.

contributed by Gifford, Katya


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