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Music: Joseph Haydn

Joseph Haydn (31 March 1732 –- 31 May 1809) was a pioneering figure in Classical Music. Haydn's parents noticed his talent at a young age, and sent him to live with a relative in Hainburg, where he could receive a good musical education. He was picked to be a boy soprano in Vienna's Cathedral of St. Steven. He worked there for a few years, and was promptly fired when his voice broke. Haydn freelanced for the next few years, getting attention in local orchestras. He finally earned a long term position at the court of Prince Paul Esterházy (and later for his brother and successor Nikolaus). Prince Esterházy's court spent half of every year in the countryside, which isolated Haydn from the musical mainstream for thirty years. This forced him to be very creative. He essentially invented the symphony and the string quartet. Even Mozart noted Haydn as a profound influence on his work.

He also composed "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser", a patriotic song about the then-Emperor of Austria Francis II Habsburg. It's melody was later used for the "Deutschlandlied", the present anthem of Germany.

His life and works provide examples of:

  • Awful Wedded Life: By all accounts, Haydn and his wife Maria Anna were completely incompatible, but divorce was not an option by the laws of the time. He said he "liked" her at first, but there was little affection and she had no appreciation for his musical talents (reportedly even using his scores for hair-curling paper), and the marriage was childless. Eventually they separated, but to his credit, Haydn continued to support his wife financially until her death.
  • Call Back: The oratorio The Seasons has a moment where a ploughman whistles while he works, and the tune he whistles is the melody from one of Haydn's own earlier hits.
  • Cool Old Guy: He was known as 'Papa Haydn' in his old age and commanded respect from almost everyone.
  • Drink Order: Tokay. He loved Tokay.
  • Ending Fatigue: Invoked in String Quartet in E-Flat Major, Op. 33, No. 2 aka "The Joke", which sounds like a normal rondo until the end of the piece, when there's a grand pause. Then he starts the piece over, with one to three measures of silence between each phrase. This goes on for a while, and he finally ends it in the middle of a phrase. Audiences had no idea when to applaud, as the piece just kept going.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: At the premiere of Haydn's Symphony no. 96 in London, the audience crowded to the front of the theatre to applaud the composer. Just at that moment, a chandelier fell from the ceiling and crashed right where they had been sitting. There were no injuries, earning the piece the nickname "Miracle Symphony." note 
  • Grave Robbing: An unfortunate Real Life example. Shortly after his death, Haydn's head was stolen for phrenological study. When his former patron found out, he demanded that the head be returned to its body. He had the thieves' houses searched, but they managed to hide it in a mattress. To complete the illusion, one of the thieves' wives lay on top of the skull and claimed menstruation, so the squicked out searchers left rather than search the wife's room. Eventually, the thieves gave the Prince a skull. It was not Haydn's skull. A few generations and a string of inheritors later, Haydn's skull and body were reunited. In 1954.note 
  • He Also Did: A tune from one of his string quartets is used for the German national anthem. Not bad for an Austrian who spent most of his life working for Hungarians. Notably, it was used for the Austrian anthem as well, and is originally believed to be a Croat folk song. He wrote it after being inspired by British patriotism and the way they flocked around "God Save the King".
  • Odd Friendship: Quiet, nature-loving family man Haydn and brash, urban socialite Mozart.
  • Settle for Sibling: Haydn was in love with Therese Keller, but she decided to enter a convent. So he married her younger sister Maria Anna instead. Unfortunately, the marriage turned out unhappy for both of them.
  • Scare Chord: Symphony No 94, the "Surprise", features an unexpected fortissimo chord about 30 seconds into the otherwise quiet second movement.
  • Starving Artist: Haydn was this for much of his youth.
  • That's All, Folks!: Symphony No 45, known as the "Farewell" Symphony - he and his musicians were kept at Prince Nikolaus Esterházy's summer palace much longer than expected, so at the end of the last movement, each musician stopped playing and left the stage, snuffing out their candle, until there were two violinists left. The prince got the hint and let them go the next day.
  • Troll: He may have been the first one!
  • You Are Number Six: Haydn was an impressively prolific composer, writing 108 symphonies, 83 string quartets, 136 trios, and more— most of which are titled simply by the order they were composed in. So good luck remembering whether your favorite Haydn symphony is Symphony no. 62 in D Major or Symphony no. 76 in E-Flat Major. Unsurprisingly, symphonies that acquired nicknames (such as the "Surprise symphony" or the "London symphonies") tend to get programmed a lot more frequently.

Ludwig van BeethovenComposersWolfgang Amadeus Mozart

alternative title(s): Joseph Haydn
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