The father of musical forms Haydn, as Naxos puts it, is the subject of many paternity suits. Chamber music fans revere him as the father of the string quartet. He pioneered the a highly structured form of music where different instruments converse with each other. During the course of this conversation, the themes they play are transformed and developed, all the while training your ear to anticipate the pleasure of a return to the home key.
While Haydn didn't actually invent the term "symphony" (the word dates back at least to Gabrieli in 1597), his output of 104 symphonies transformed the genre and formed the base from which romantic and modern symphonies were derived.
Haydn did not have an easy life: the son of a wheelwright, he left the family home at six in the hope of a musical career via the church choir, from which he was unceremoniously dismissed when his voice broke. He was frequently hungry, and it was not until 1761 that he achieved stable employment with the Esterházy family, a job which was to last over thirty years.
In spite of his hard life and bouts of debilitating illness, his music is suffused with good humour, and he was respected by his contemporaries as a model of good character. More about Haydn's life and work...What you never knew: Haydn Trivia... Haydn's Music LiveFind operas and concerts in Britain and the rest of the world. Haydnon CDFind the very best CDs of Haydn's work Events to attendUnder the banner of "Haydn 2009", Austria will be celebrating Haydn's bicentennial with a vast range of festivals and events.The Creation will be performed in venues world-wide on the anniversary of his death.And you have to check out the Haydathon - all 104 symphonies performed at one sitting!More events about Haydn... Places to goFirst on your list has to be the sumptuous Esterházy Palace at Eisenstadt (pictured above). In the same trip, you can also visit Haydn's birthpace in Rohrau, Lower Austria, and Vienna, where Haydn spent his later years.More places with links to Haydn... HaydnOn AirBBC Radio 3 has celebratory programmes through the year. Anniversaries in 2009: Purcell (b.1659) Handel (d.1759) Haydn (d.1809) Mendelssohn (b.1809) Tárrega (d.1909) Albéniz (d.1909)Villa-Lobos (d.1959) Martinů (d.1959) Engraving of Haydn by Schiavonetti after a portrait by Guttenbrunn, reproduced by kind permission of the Royal Academy of Music.Photo of Esterhazy Palace © Schloss Esterhazy Management/Horavth