Joseph Haydn by John Hoppner in 1791
Joseph Haydn by John Hoppner in 1791
"I became original" said Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) about his years serving the Esterházy family. Under four Princes, from 1761 to his death, the composer indeed developed a style of his own, a style which would soon become the manifesto of the classical era. Often described as the Father of Symphony, his often witty, always human, works are abundant in every single musical genre.

To celebrate his birthday today, we have asked the members of the Bachtrack team to nominate their favourite piece. It appears our choices span the varied sides of Haydn's musical output. Which one would you have chosen? 

Haydn never went to Spain but received an important commission from there: an orchestral work, The Seven Last Words of Christ, was asked to be sent to the Oratorio de la Santa Cueva, in Cádiz in 1786, to be performed during Holy Week, presumably on Good Friday. This performance by Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations took place in the very same location. This is our Spanish editor Katia's first choice:

It is less known that Haydn was a fertile composer of opera buffa. For years he used the genre as a laboratory to forge the basics of the classical style. Our German editor Hedy picked up one of them, Il mondo della luna. In addition to Nikolaus Harnoncourt's version below you can read more about it in our recent review.

Out of the 104 symphonies, Mark chose Symphony no. 73 in D major "The hunt" as it is one of the lesser-known works. The finale gives the symphony its nickname and reflects the popularity of hunting in 18th century musical culture: 

As an organist, Simon could not ignore the intimate Missa Brevis "Sancti Joannis de Deo", the "little mass with organ", composed in 1777. 

 

David chose the most popular Haydn mass, the Missa in angustiis, also well-known as the Nelson Mass in reference to the Napoleonic war which was being fought in Egypt when Haydn was working on the score. Nelson finally defeated the French Navy in Aboukir on 1st August 1798 and so became the dedicatee of the work later on.

 

Luke chose the German anthem, taken from the Quartet Op.76 no. 3 "The Emperor" (Hob.III.77), here sung with great enthusiasm! Indeed, the football German team sang it until the final round of the last World Cup in Brazil and eventually won... One goal for Haydn. 

French editor Luce went for the Trio for viola, cello and baryton No.97 in D Major accordingly called "Birthday". Haydn composed no more than 126 trios for the Prince Esterházy, a keen baryton player, even if the instrument was already obsolete at this time. Haydn himself was known to be a very good player but had to give up so as not to put the Prince's (limited) skills into the shade...

 

Alison chose the Trumpet Concerto, a dearly cherished jewel for trumpeters. Let's hear the last movement of it with one of the greatest players of the last century, Maurice André.  

We finish with the most famous fade-out in classical music: our press officer Sophia picked up the Symphony no. 45 "Farewell" (the only F sharp minor symphony composed in the 18th century!), in the last movement of which every single musician goes off the stage in turn, leaving the conductor almost on his own at the end of the piece. According to some musicologists, Haydn wanted to hint to the Prince that the season has been way too long... To our delight, orchestras and conductors have now lots of fun with it: