Home » Uncategorized » Johann Michael Haydn and his Symphony No. 30

Johann Michael Haydn and his Symphony No. 30

Johann Michael Haydn (September 14, 1737–August 10, 1806) was an Austrian composer of the Classical period, the younger brother of Joseph Haydn, born on September 14, 1737, at the domains of the Counts Harrach. in the Austrian village of Rohrau, near the Hungarian border, one of twelve children. His father Mathias Haydn was a wheelwright who also served as “Marktrichter,” an office akin to village mayor. Haydn’s mother Anna Maria, née Koller, had previously worked as a cook in the palace of Count Harrach, the presiding aristocrat of Rohrau. Mathias was an enthusiastic folk musician, who during the journeyman period of his career had taught himself to play the harp, and he also made sure that his children learned to sing. Michael received his first musical training in Rohrau, and in nearby Hainburg, where he was a choirboy. Michael’s early professional career path was paved by his older brother Joseph, whose skillful singing had landed him a position as a boy soprano in the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, choir under the direction of Kappelmeister Georg Reutter. The father saw himself freed of a great burden and some five years later, in 1745, also dedicated Joseph’s brother Michael to the Cathedral. He was turned over to Joseph to be trained. On his first appearance before Empress Maria Theresia, she was so moved by his beautiful voice, that she presented him with 24 ducats.

At St. Stephens Haydn received rudimentary instruction in theory and practice of music while studying violin and organ with Reutter. And equally important, he had the opportunity to hear and perform music of the leading composers of that time. He became skilled enough in playing the organ to act as deputy organist of St. Stephen’s. He was a chorister until around 1752, but didn’t leave St. Stephen’s until sometime around 1757. He attended the Jesuit Seminary, studying history, geography and the classics and was well educated. He taught himself composition from Fux’s ‘Gradus ad Parnassum’ and soon showed unusual promise. His first known work came in 1754, the brilliant Missa in honorem Sanctissimae Trinitatis. In 1759 the famous Benedictine Monastery of Göttweig, acquired a Mass in C major from Michael. Also in 1759, Michael undertook a pilgrimage walk to Mariazell and composed an Ave Regina for the Benedictine priory there.

Shortly after he left the school, Michael was appointed in 1760 as Kapellmeister to the Bishop of Grosswardein, Count Adam Patáchich, at Nagyvárad, then in southern Hungary, today Oradea in northwestern Romania, and later, in 1762, at Salzburg, where he was appointed concertmaster and court composer to the archiepiscopal establishment, under Prince-Archbishop Siegmund, Count von Schrattenbach, and remained for 43 years, during which time he wrote over 360 compositions comprising both church and instrumental music. On August 17, 1768, he married singer Maria Magdalena Lipp (1745–1827). She was the daughter of the second organist of the Cathedral and a singer at the Salzburg Court who was known to have taken part in Mozart’s early operas. Their only child, a daughter named Aloisia Josepha, born January 31, 1770, died on January 27, 1771, just short of her first birthday. She was named not in honor of Michael’s brother, but after Josepha Daubrawa von Daubrawaick, who was her godmother. Haydn was acquainted with Mozart, who held his work in high esteem. Several of Michael Haydn’s works influenced Mozart. Also, he taught young Carl Maria von Weber and Anton Diabelli. Other pupils were Sigismund Neukomm (1778 – 1858), Ignaz Assmayr (1790 – 1862) and Joseph Woelfl (1772 – 1812). Michael remained close to Joseph all of his life. Joseph regarded his brother’s music highly to the point of feeling Michael’s religious works were superior to his own.

In 1777 Haydn took over the post of organist at the churches of the Holy Trinity and St. Peter from Anton Adlgasser. He was also teaching at the chapel boy’s college. In 1781 took over the post of organist of the Cathedral in Salzburg, when young Mozart permanantly left for Vienna. Haydn’s sacred choral works are generally regarded as his most important. They include twenty-four masses, four so-called German masses, two requiems, one hundred and fourteen graduals, sixty-seven offertories, litanies, vespers, cantatas, oratorios, and several operas. He was also a prolific composer of secular music, including forty symphonies and wind partitas, multiple concertos, serenades, marches, minuets, and chamber music including a string quintet in C major was once thought to have been by his brother Joseph. There were also fifty preludes for the organ. In 1787 he became violin instructor for the court, succeeding Leopold Mozart on his death. In December 1800 Salzburg was taken by the French and Michael had some of his property seized. To help him, Empress Maria Theresia commissioned a mass and later a Requiem. In 1802, Michael was offered lucrative and honorable positions by both Esterházy and the Grand Duke of Tuscany. He wrote to Joseph in Vienna asking for advice on whether or not to accept any of them, but in the end chose to stay in Salzburg. In 1804 he became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. During the last years of his life, Haydn was frequently ill, and he died in Salzburg on August 10, 1806, at Sanktpetrischen Haus, age 68.

The following works by Johann Michael Haydn are contained in my collection:

Symphony No. 22 in DM, P. 42 (1778).
Symphony No. 30 in dm, P. 20 (1784).
Symphony No. 41 in FM, P. 32 (1789).

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources


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