Joseph Haydn was born as Franz Joseph Haydn on March 31, 1732 as a son of the cartwright and later market judge Mathias Haydn and his wife Anna Maria in the village Rohrau (Lower Austria). They had twelve children but only six survived, except Franz Joseph the brothers Michael and Johann Evangelist and the three sisters Franziska, Anna Maria and Anna Katharina.
From 1738 he lived at a relative Johann Mathias Frankh in Hainburg and received a musical basic education. 1740 Georg von Reutter, musical director at cathedral St.Stephan in Vienna, discovers him. He took Haydn to Vienna, where he was a choir singer for nine years. The treatment was not well, he often had had to starve.
1749 voice breaking began, Haydn could not reach the high tones. Under a pretext he was dismissed from the choir of St.Stephan. He found accomodation at Johann Michael Spangler, a member of the cathedral choir, and lived on casual jobs as for instance violonist in ensembles and orchestras as well as music teacher. As the Spanglers expected a after-growth he changed to family Buchholz into a roof chamber in the Michaelerhaus at the Kohlmarkt. On recommendation of the imperial poet Pietro Metastasio he was employed as correpetitor at the Italian composer Niccola Porpora. Haydn moved to Seilerstaette. 1754 his mother died. Within ten years Haydn wrote string quartets and an opera. Haydn received acknowledgment for his works. 1755 he wrote string quartets for Joseph von Fuernberg of castle Weinzierl at Wieselburg in Lower Austria. Joseph Haydn played with baron Fuernberg, his administrator and father confessor.
On recommendation of Gluck and Ditterdorf 1759 count Karl Josef Franz of Morzin employed him as a orchestradirector in castle Lukavec near Pilsen, the salary was 200 florins. For this 16-man-Orchestra Haydn wrote symphonies. As Morzin got financial difficulties Haydn's employment was turned out. He was employed by prince Paul Anton Esterhazy on March 1, 1761 as second orchestradirector. After the death of the first orchestradirector, Gregor Werner, Haydn 1766 became a first orchestradirector. His duties were directing of the orchestra, performance of chamber music, arranging of operas as well as the composition. On concerts prince Esterhazy also gladly played the Baryton, a similar instrument to a Viola da gamba.
The Esterhazys had not only a castle in Eisenstadt (today Burgenland), but also winter quarters in Vienna and (at that time) new constructed castle Eszterhaza in Hungary. Haydn went with them as livery-servant.
1760 Haydn married the daughter of a hairdresser Maria Anna Aloysia Apollonia Keller. The relation was unfortunate, Maria Anna was contentious and did not understand his musical talent. Haydn had a loveaffair with the singer Luigia Polzelli. Haydn did not have children with Maria Anna, but possibly with Luigia Polzelli. 1763 Haydn's father died.
Haydn had a secured income at Esterhazy's and so he could develop his personal musical style. It wrote many compositions in these 30 years in the house of Esterhazy. Particularly the princes Paul Anton and Nikolaus I. recognized Haydn's musical talent and supported him.
1765 Haydn made catalog of his works, the so-called "Entwurfskatalog". 1766 Haydn acquired a house in Eisenstadt, in the Klostergasse 82, today since 1935 a museum in the Joseph Haydn-Gasse 19&21. On August 2, 1768 a fire broke out.
Around 1770 Haydn's compository style has changed. A kind of "Storm and Stress"-period showed up in strange minor harmony and sudden musical transitions. Haydn attained popularity also outside of the house of Esterhazy and published works also outside of the house of Esterhazy. 1779 for the first time Haydn's symphonies were performed in France.
1776 Haydn's biography titled "Gelehrten Oesterreich" was published. On July 17, 1776 for the second time there was a fire in Haydn's house in Klostergasse. On October 27, 1778 Haydn sold his house in Eisenstadt.
1779 the opera house in castle Esterhaz burned down. The castle was prince Esterhazy's favorite domicile at the south point of the lake Neusiedlersee, today in Hungary.
1781 Haydn developed a close friendship to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Haydn and Mozart played together string quartets. Haydn was very much impressed of Mozart. It is remarkable that Haydn composed no more operas and concerts, this was domain of Mozart.
1782 Haydn's of works were performed in America. 1784 he wrote on order of the board of directors "Concerts de la loge Olympique" the six "Pariser Sinfonien" (Parisian symphonies) Nr.82-87. On Februar 12, 1785 Haydn said to Mozart's father: "... your son the greatest composer, which I know in person and name: it has taste, and over that the greatest compository sience". Haydn also was member of freemason, in the freemason's lodge "Zur gekrönten Hoffnung" (To crowned hope). 1786 he wrote the original orchestra version of the "Sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze" (Seven last words of the savior on the cross).
On September 28, 1790 prince Nikolaus from Esterhazy, which splendor-loving, a large Maezen Haydn's died. His non-musical successor Anton Esterhazy dissolved the orchestra and Haydn became pensioner with 1400 florins. Haydn received an offer from the Londoner concert agent Johann Peter Salomon to go to London to perform his symphonies with large orchestra there.
Haydn undertook two journeys to England, i.e. 1791-1792 and 1794-1795. The first concert took place in the Hanover Square Rooms. Haydn's concerts were very successful and in this time Haydn composed some of his most well-known works as for instance "Die Londoner Sinfonie" (London symphony), "Die Militaersinfonie" (Military symphony) and "Die Sinfonie with the Paukenschlag" (Symphony with the beat of the drum) as well as "Reiterquartett" and "Zigeunertrio". At this time Haydn had a platonic affair (Haydn dedicated the E flat Sonata, HobXVI/49, to her) with the 34-year old Marianne von Genzinger, a doctor's wife and mother of 6 children, who died in 1793. 1791 he received the honor doctorate of the University of Oxford. Haydn was even thinking to become English citizen. Haydn received enticing offers, even the prince from Wales asked Haydn to stay. But Haydn returned to Vienna on August 15, 1795. After successes in London the pension was increased by Esterhazy to 2300 florins
Haydn went to Vienna and composed again for the family Esterhazy, which was meanwhile again led by an music-interested prince, prince Nikolaus II.. In addition he tought some music pupils, among them from 1792 Ludwig van Beethoven, whom it had become acquainted with during a stay in Bonn in July 1792. But Beethoven was dissatisfied with his instructor. 1793 he bought a large house in Vienna Gumpendorf, today the 6th Vienna district. In this time he wrote religious works for example six masses for the Esterhazys and oratories, as for instance "Die Schoepfung" (The creation) or "Die Jahreszeiten" (The seasons). In addition he wrote nine string quartets for example "Kaiserquartett", "Quintenquintett" and "Der Sonnenaufgang". Haydn brought from London a libretto to a oratory, that was worked after John Milten's "verlorenem Paradies" (Lost paradise). Before it had been offered to George Friedrich Haendel for composition. The imperial yard librarian Gottfried van Swieten translated the text into German and called it "Die Schoepfung" (The creation). 1795 after London he played in Hamburg, Berlin and Dresden.
1797 Haydn composed the Austrian national anthem, "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser", also known as "Kaiserhymne". The music today still is Germany's anthem. "Die Schoepfung" was very successfully first performed on April 29/30, 1798. 1798 Haydn became member of the Royal Swedish Academy and 1801 honor member of the Gesellschaft der Verdienste "Felix meritis" / Amsterdam as well as foreign member of the Institut de France in Paris.
1800 Joseph Haydn's wife died. From 1802 Haydn's health worsened and he could not compose anymore. He received many honors, but he no longer played public
1803 he received the large golden Salvator-medal from the city of Vienna. 1804 he became honor citizen of Vienna and honour member of the Philharmoni society in Laibach (Ljubljana). 1805 he received a call to the Conservatoire in Paris. 1807 he became member of the Société académique enfants of the d'Apollon in Paris. 1808 Haydn became honor member of the Philharmonic society in St.Peterburg.
On May 31, 1809 after an attack of the French army on Vienna Joseph Haydn died. On June 15, 1809 a Requiem took place under large sympathy of Viennese people. Burying took place at the cementary Hundsturmer Friedhof. The former cemetery today is in the 12th Vienna district and the park there is called the Haydn park. The skull however was removed from the body 3 days after burying by two Viennese "for science purpose". They wanted to demonstrate the "Gall's Skull-theory" with Haydn's skull. According to this theory there is a connection between head form and a character and gift.
1820 Haydn's mortal remnants were transferred to the church Bergkirche in Eisenstadt. 1932 Dr.Paul Esterhazy sponsored a mausoleum, which remained empty. The skull however remained (since 1895) at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (society of the music friends).
Even 1954 Haydn's skull was brought to the church Bergkirche in Eisenstadt. Now Haydn's complete mortal covering was buried in the mausoleum.