Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) toiled away for decades as a musician in the service of the aristocratic Esterházy family. He was required to compose music for everyday use in the Esterházy household, mostly instrumental works but also music for the chapel and theatre. The advantage of this to him as a composer was that it presented him with plenty of opportunities to hone his craft. He came to know the symphony and the string quartet inside out for the simple reason that he constantly had to churn out new works. Haydn was a crucial figure in establishing the Classical style and his innovations in form, phrasing and texture were wide-ranging and highly influential. His reputation spread beyond the German-speaking world and by the mid-1780s he had received commissions from elsewhere in Europe. In 1790 the Esterházy orchestra and opera company were disbanded which allowed Haydn the opportunity to travel to London at the invitation of impresario J P Salomon who commissioned 12 new symphonies from Haydn. These are known as the London symphonies (they are sometimes called the Salomon symphonies) and include the Surprise, Clock and Drumroll. Haydn knew Mozart and Beethoven personally. He sometimes played quartets with the former and gave counterpointlessons to the latter.
© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra