HAYDN, JOSEPH, the most celebrated composer of mu sic among the moderns, was the son of a wheelwright, and born in 1732 at Rohrau in Austria, 36 miles from Vi enna towards the Hungarian frontier. His father, though ignorant of the principles of music, which are much more generally disseminated among the lower ranks of Germany than in Britain, played a little on the harp, which was ac companied by the voices of himself and his wife. Joseph having been conducted, at a very early age, by a relation to Haimbourg, was instructed in the elementary parts of education ; and a chapel-master of Vienna, having acci dentally heard his voice, took him, when only eight years old, to replace one of the boys in his choir. Here he re mained apparently exposed to severe discipline ; and as his voice was constantly improving, the chapel-master be came anxious to preserve it. He explained the means of doing so to Haydn, now a youth of about fifteen, who thought of nothing but music ; and having gained his ready assent, the day and hour were fixed. But the accidental arrival of his father in Vienna, prevented their purpose from being effected. His voice soon broke, and Reuter, the chapel-master, ashamed of the reproaches which he had incurred, and exasperated at the disappointment, found a pretence for discharging him from the choir on a winter's night, which, from absolute poverty, he was obliged to pass in the street. Next morning, being observed by Spangler, a poor but friendly musician, he obtained a lodg ing from him in a hay-loft, adjacent to a single apartment which his own family occupied, and also a share of their frugal subsistence. • Here Haydn followed the bent of his early propensities, in practising on a wretched spinette ; but it is said, that af ter some time had elapsed, a lady of rank, who had seen one of his compositions, desired to know the author. Haydn's extreme poverty hardly enabled him to obtain suf ficient clothing to appear before her ; and she had some difficulty in believing that he was the individual for whom she sought. He was compelled to account for his neces sities, by relating, in as delicate terms as possible, his ad venture with Reuter ; and, in testimony of her esteem, she presented him with the works of Matheson, Bach, andothcr celebrated composers. According to some writers, his patroness was a niece of Metastasio the dramatic author, the real owner of the hay-loft ; and they add, that he con tinued to instruct her in music and singing during three years.
Haydn now earned a scanty subsistence by the exercise of his talents. He was organist to an ecclesiastical estab lishment, with a salary of 12/. yearly. He had occasional employment elsewhere in the same capacity, and he sung, and played on the violin. At about the age of eighteen. he
composed a quartett for BAron Furnberg, and afterwards some trios, which were surreptitiously pi inted. In the year 1759, his patroness obtained for him the appointment of music master to Count Marzin, with an annual salary of 25l.; and here he composed the first of those symphonies which have gained him so much celebrity. There appears to be some ambiguity respecting the chronology of I laydn's compositions. His Opera Prima consists of six quartetts, wherein all the rudiments of his line genius are sufficiently developed ; but it is reported, that the first time his name appears is to trios and harpsichord sonatas, in a German catalogue of 1763.
In the year 1760, Haydn was appointed sub-chapel mas te• to a German potentate, the prince of Esterhazy, who was himself a siklful musician ; and on the death of Wer ner, who was the principal, and from whose disposition and abilities he derived much advantage, he was promoted to fill his place. In this new situation, he had an ample op portunity, and sufficient encouragement, to pursue his ta lent for composition in its utmost latitude. Works of va rious descriptions flowed from his pen in rapid succession; and the particular taste of his patron led to the composition of those which no preceding musician had attempted. He overstepped all the limits which had fettered others ; and, in adopting a new and peculiar, though unaffected style, he taught the public the variety of which music is susceptible. Yet this was not accomplished without exciting the jea lousy of his cotemporaries. It has been affirmed, that he silenced his adversaries by publishing compositions where in their own style was introduced, to betray its inferiority. In order to gratify the prince, he composed music with un common distributions of the parts or the performers ; such as the Echo, which consists of a double trio for two violins and a violoncello, each set of performers being in a differ ent chamber, but within their mutual view. Profiting by this singularity of taste, he composed another piece, called the ?dieu, on occasion either of a quarrel in the orchestra, which induced all the band to give in their resignation, or, what is less probable, because the prince treated some of Haydn's warmest exertions with marked neglect. This was a symphony ingeniously devised, so that one instru ment should regularly close after another ; and as the mu sic gradually terminated, each performer saw written be fore him, " Put out your candle, and go about your busi ness." All obeyed in succession, and a solitary instrument finished the whole.