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Franz Joseph Haydn Essay, Research Paper


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. They were the symphony (use of orchestra), the string quartet, and the piano sonatas. Haydn showed exemplary usage of all three of these. He is often referred to as the Father of Symphony having written over 100 symphonies in his life and also developing the way the music is played. During the classical era, there were generally 3 or more movements to a symphony with the sequence of a fast-slow-fast-etc. rhythm. Haydn was one of the few composers who developed this throughout their music and he was a master of it. In his London Symphonies, he shows exemplary usage of this rhythmic style. This symphony was composed of 5 movements: The Miracle, The Surprise, The Military, the Clock, the Drum Roll, and London. The movements go in the sequence of fast-slow-fast-etc. These movements were the type of music that kept you captivated now matter how slowly or fast it was played.

The genre of the string quartet occupies a special place in Haydn s oeuvre. He was central to its establishment as a major genre-a status that it has maintained to the present day-and he composed quartets from the beginning to the end of his lengthy career. He was probably attracted to the medium of two violins, viola, and cello because of its inherent musicality. The instruments blend together but are also capable of their own distinctive voices. They can play with both delicacy and power and with both flamboyant agility and lyrical sweetness. Known as the inventor of string quartets, his best ever was the Emperor Quartet where he took a wonderfully simple hymn and used its melody as a theme for a set of variations. The emperor of Austria was so impressed that he made it the Austrian National Anthem until the end of World War I.

The piano sonatas were also part of many of the new genres of music we can attribute to Haydn being that in these sonatas developed the sonata form, a type of structure and rhythm that is used and expected of all classical music even until today. A great example of this is his Sonata No.37 in D minor, one of his first sonatas where the sonata form was gradually developed. He wrote a total of 49 in his life time.

In the second quarter of the eighteenth century, well before Haydn and Mozart, the classical style began to emerge in works by a large number of composers scattered throughout Europe. Although it is impossible to interpret the music of these pioneers as establishing a unified style, their works all contained anti-baroque tendencies. The galant style was developed, a light hearted, elegant, simple, and straightforward in harmonic motion style that was well displayed throughout most of Haydn s works. Most of this style was used to develop the string quartets and the symphonies that Haydn created as well as being a significant part to his comic operas and his rough folk-like dance music. Mozart was so impressed by Haydn s use of the galant style in Haydn s string quartets that he dedicated six quartets to him calling them his six sons. The string quartet the had impressed Mozart so much was the string Quartet in B flat Major, Op.1 No.1. It had 4 short movements in a major chord with melodic material on the sound of the first violin creating a happy accessible mood.

One of the grand themes of the Classical period that separated it from the Baroque period was the use of structure and harmonic rhythm to represent the large-scale emotion of sadness. In other words, using volume to portray emotion. One of the developments of the Classical period that differ quite from the Baroque s happy type music was the style of Sturm and Drang. This music was often played in unconventional keys especially in the minor. They were tragically intense in color, full of passionate chromatic harmonies designed to portray sadness or despair. This type of music was influenced by a new cult in German literature about suicide, madness, and despair. Probably the greatest composer that portrayed this style in his music was Haydn. Of his many symphonies, about 12 are dedicated to this style. One of them, Trauersinfonie, he requested to be played at his funeral because it is also called the Mourning Symphony. Haydn s best work of this style was known as the Farewell. Having spent many, many years at Esterhaza, he and the musicians of his orchestra wanted to leave but instead of telling the Prince that directly, he took a more subtle approach. In this piece that was written in the extremely unusual key of F sharp minor, he added an extra, ver slow movement at the end. During this movement, each group of instruments played slowly and with a lot of emotion and as they finished, they crept out by pairs and blew out their candles. Soon, only Haydn and Tomasini, the leader of the orchestra, were left. When they finished, they too blew out their candles, leaving the Prince and his guests in total darkness. Because the music was so beautifully written and the emotion so clearly displayed, the Prince took the hint immediately. This symphony has been credited as one of Haydn s best works.

The baroque period used styles of music that included very complicated themes that made music hard to comprehend or sometimes over-dazzled the listener. During the classical period, the idea was not to over-dazzle or over-confuse the listener but to show emotion very clearly and logically. This was done through the use of dynamics and orchestral color in a thematic way. Haydn s music had ever aspect of this characteristic of the classical period. He often gave different instruments in an orchestra the chance to play out to give the orchestra more color and also to display emotions very clearly. For example, his Symphony No.100 also known as the Military, uses a variety of instruments as well as a wide variety of dynamics to show emotion. He used the drums to represent the ratata of the troops marching and of course, used the trumpets and trombones for the fanfare. In the middle, he suddenly gets louder and louder as suddenly, the full orchestra breaks out in a wave of sound to give the hellish roar of war. Haydn was a master of using dynamics to keep his audience occupied.

One of the most important, maybe the most, characteristics of the Classical Period was that it was secular music. Unlike Baroque style which focused on religious themes and having big concerts in churches, Classical music grasped the interest of the aristocrats/nobles and many demanded private performances. Haydn spent much of his life under the employment of such a noble who demanded music of all sorts from him ranging from arias to symphonies. In this time, musicians also sought to gain fame not dedicate their music to God like many had done during the Baroque period. Haydn sought to be recognized. He became a Freemason at Viennese Lodge where many of the most influential people in Vienna spent there time listening to music. He got requests from many nobles to make music. Once, he was requested by Paris to create a set of symphonies for Queen Marie Antoinette of which La Reine was her favorite. Another example of his writing music for the nobles and the public other than Church was the Emperor Quartet which was used as the Austrian National Anthem until the end of World War I. Haydn spent much of his life creating music that people would enjoy outside of Church.

Not all of Haydn s work, sad to say, was of the Classical period. However, this number of works are miniscule in number and were created during the early stage of his composing career when he was still developing music. Thus, President Schneider, I believe that he should still be admitted because you can t develop music if you don t have something to build on which is exactly what he did do. The baroque works that he did create were mainly operas and masses at the request of kings, queens, and nobles and they amass to about 50 out of a thousand of his works. His greatest work, as was mentioned above, was The Creation. Written in the genre of the Baroque period, it was a large scale work for voices and orchestra, dealing with a religious subject. However, though it was based on a religious theme, typically Baroque, it was more Classical than it was baroque. In this oratorio, he left out the complex use of counterpoint but instead substituted to the simplicity of the classics along with some of his famous galant style. According to one music lover, Haydn must have enjoyed depicting in music the various forms of divine handiwork which preceded the serious business of man s creation, from leaping tigers, and prancing horses down to the wrigglings of the humble earthworm. Despite being of a Baroque genre, it was simple and logically thematic making it more Classical than it was baroque.

As you can quite see Mrs. President, Franz Joseph Haydn, definitely belongs in the International Enlightenment society. He was the inventor of the string quartets and the father of symphony, two important genres of the Classical period. He created the sonata form which has been echoed by other great composers including Mozart and Beethoven. His wide variety of music from happy dancing to somber funeral music was greatly appreciated by the public and the nobles earning him a honorary degree from Oxford as Doctor of Music. Unlike Mozart or Beethoven, when Haydn died he was not forgotten. Two weeks after his death, the whole art-loving world of Vienna , went to a great memorial service at the city center in honor of the greatest composer of the Classical period. If substance, restraint, simplicity, and balance of music are important characteristics of the Classical style, then it is not difficult to see why through his music, that Haydn was the greatest composer of Classical history.

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