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Haydn in the Stacks

March 31st marks the 280th anniversary of Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn's birth. His music, said to epitomize the sound of the so-called Classical Era that followed the Baroque period, is noted for its warmth, clarity, and intellect. Composers of the following generation such as Mozart (a close friend of Haydn) and Beethoven (briefly his student) picked up on his innovations and developed them further. Indeed, these followers soon came to eclipse Haydn in reputation, and it wasn't until early in the twentieth century that his music began to receive renewed attention from musicologists and performers.

Haydn is often referred to as the "father" of the string quartet and the symphony, two of the most enduring genres in classical music. His prolific output (78 quartets, 104 symphonies) was not limited to these forms - he also wrote much more chamber music and a considerable number of vocal works, including operas, oratorios, and masses. For most of his professional life Haydn was employed by successive princes of the Austro-Hungarian Esterházy family, and their wishes largely determined what he composed, but in the latter half or so of his long career (he died in 1809), he had some freedom in what he could write and was able to sell his works to music publishers throughout Europe as his popularity spread.

If you would like to explore Haydn's music, check out RCPL's holdings on CD, which include many of his symphonies and string quartets, as well as his popular oratorios.  A great resource for learning while listening is the book Exploring Haydn: A Listener's Guide to Music's Boldest Innovator, which includes two CDs, one devoted to his orchestral and one to his chamber and vocal works.

You can learn more about Haydn in biographies and critical studies such as Haydn: His Life and Music, by the pioneering Haydn scholar H. C. Robbins Landon and David Wyn Jones, and the concert pianist Charles Rosen's The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven. But you can also learn a lot about his character and temperament, as well as the age in which he lived, just by listening to his witty and sparkling music.


Amazon Says: (Unlocking the Masters). No composer has ever achieved the amazing progression that Haydn has. He invented the string quartet as we know it today, became "the Father of the Sy more...
Amazon Says: (Unlocking the Masters). No composer has ever achieved the amazing progression that Haydn has. He invented the string quartet as we know it today, became "the Father of the Symphony," and founded the greatest school in the history of music. His life was one of ceaseless experimentation and invention, of problems surmounted and challenges met. In this book, No. 6 in the Amadeus Press Unlocking the Masters series, David Hurwitz acquaints readers with Haydn's innovative melodic creativity, his revolutionary use of musical form, and important characteristics of his personal style, including his genius for writing in minor keys and creating comedy in his music. In addition to Haydn's principal instrumental works, Hurwitz explores Haydn's vocal music and instrumental masterpieces that fall outside the mainstream. Four appendixes list all of his symphonies, string quartets, piano sonatas, and piano trios. Two Universal Records CDs provide over two and a half hours of music keyed to pieces described in the book. less...
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Haydn: His Life and Music by H. C. Robbins Landon
Amazon Says: This second volume in the acclaimed new Companion series on major composers is devoted to the immensely prolific Austrian composer and the father of both the symphony and the more...
Amazon Says: This second volume in the acclaimed new Companion series on major composers is devoted to the immensely prolific Austrian composer and the father of both the symphony and the string quartet. In more than 900 A-to-Z entries, Haydn's world is brought to vivid life. All of his music is highlighted including his symphonies, concertos, masses, oratorios, operas, string quartets and other chamber works, sonatas, and miscellaneous choral pieces. Family, friends, patrons and contemporaries (Mozart and the young Beethoven among them), ideas, influences, and aesthetics all played a major role in his life and are illuminated throughout the text. An invaluable resource for students, teachers, and music lovers, this volume contains a wealth of information including maps, a chronology, a list of works, and expert assessments of Haydn's compositions and increasing popularity. less...
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Amazon Says: Winner of the 1972 National Book Award. A reissue of a masterpiece by a world-class pianist and top-rank thinkernow expanded and with a compact disc. This outstanding book foc more...
Amazon Says: Winner of the 1972 National Book Award. A reissue of a masterpiece by a world-class pianist and top-rank thinkernow expanded and with a compact disc. This outstanding book focusing on the three most-beloved composers of the Vienna School is considered basic to any study of the music from their era. Drawing on his rich experience and intimate familiarity with the works of these giants, Charles Rosen presents his keen insights in language that is clear, persuasive, and nontechnical. For this reissue of The Classical Style, Rosen provides a comprehensive new introduction that incorporates ideas he has formulated in the past twenty-five years and responds to the reactions of others writers to the book during that time. Readers are also treated to a compact disc, recorded by Rosen in 1996 and produced especially to accompany this new version of the book. The CD offers complete performances of two late sonatas of Beethoven that are discussed extensively in the text: the Opus 106 in Bb major (the Hammerklavier) and the Opus 110 in C minor. less...
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