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 Search Beat > Arts > Music > Styles > Classical Music > Featured Composer > Franz Joseph Haydn


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biography
Haydn (1732-1809) perfected both the symphony and the string quartet and was also a prolific composer of operas and choral works. He was revered by Mozart and a significant influence on Beethoven, whom he taught. Haydn's sense of invention and humor are trademarks of his style. Here are his essential recordings.
recommended recordings
Haydn: Symphonies 92, 94 & 96 / Szell, Cleveland Orchestra

Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor: George Szell
Ensemble: Cleveland Orchestra
Sony Classics - #46332 / April 9, 1991

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Like so many great Mozart conductors, Gyrgy Szell came to Haydn rather late in his career, but then found himself captivated by the music's wholly unique genius. Where Mozart likes long-breathed themes and balanced musical structures, Haydn prefers short, catchy motives and is a master of the unexpected. His orchestration, too, is sharper and more rhythmically defined than Mozart's is, with very free use of trumpets and drums. These three "name" symphonies represent Haydn at his best,...Read more


  Haydn: String Quartets, Op 76 no 1-3 / Kodaly Quartet

Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer: Jnos Devich, Attila Falvay, et al.
Ensemble: Kodly String Quartet
Naxos - #550314 / October 20, 1992

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Until recently, the Kodaly Quartet has not been very well known outside its native Hungary, although they have won several awards, performed at numerous concerts throughout eastern Europe, and recorded for the Naxos label for several years. One of this chamber music ensemble's most notable achievements for Naxos is a complete cycle of string quartets composed by Joseph Haydn. This CD contains the first three of Haydn's "Erdody" quartets, Op. 76. (They were named for Count Erdody, to whom Haydn dedicated them.) Many music critics consider the "Erdody" quartets to be the finest of the 83 Haydn composed during his long life. The Kodaly Quartet performs them with tremendous enthusiasm, vitality, and an obvious enjoyment of the music. Fast movements are lightly sprung, slow movements are played with just the right touch of gravity, and "menuettos" rollick merrily along. Especially enjoyable for its hauntingly beautiful melody is the second movement - "poco adagio, cantabile" - of Op. 76 No. 3 , the "Emperor" Quartet. Throughout all three of the quartets on this disc, Haydn's sunny, optimistic disposition and his tremendous musical originality and inventiveness shine through.

Haydn: The Creation / Herbert von Karajan
Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Performer: Walter Berry, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, et al.
Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Uni/Deutsche Grammophon - #449761 / January 27, 1998

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This classic performance of Haydn's greatest choral masterpiece was beloved tenor Fritz Wunderlich's last recording. He sings all of the arias, but he died before finishing the recitatives, which are here taken by Werner Krenn. The recording is, in addition, one of Herbert von Karajan's finest, vastly better than his later digital remake. His interpretation is straightforward and impressively large in scale, but never pompous or sanctimonious (which was Karajan's big problem in music of a...Read more


Haydn: Three Favorite Concertos / Ma, Marsalis, Lin
Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor: Jos Luis Garcia, Raymond Leppard, et al.
Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, et al.
Ensemble: English Chamber Orchestra, National Philharmonic Orchestra London, et al.
Sony Classics - #39310 / January 1, 1987

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This excellent disc brings together three superb performances of three of Haydn's best concertos. As a composer, Haydn wasn't really interested in the concerto as a form. He was the inventor of the classical symphony, and the entire orchestra was his instrument. For although he played violin, viola, keyboard, and timpani, he wasn't known as an outstanding virtuoso on any of them. This makes him the first truly professional composer (as opposed to a performer who composed) in the history of...Read more


works & recordings
  • Chamber Music
    Trios, Quartets, Quintets

  • Choral
    Secular and sacred choral music. Oratorios, Masses, Partsongs, Hymns, Carols

  • Instrumental
    Sonatas, Suites, Overtures, Minuets, Variations, Transcriptions, Dance Music

  • Orchestra
    Concertos, Symphonies

  • Theatrical Works
    Ballet, Stage, Incidental Music, Film Scores

  • Vocal and Opera
    Opera, Operetta, Song, Lieder, Musical Theater

Complete List of Works and Recordings

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