I’ve been talking about musical inspiration over on my readingandwriting blog, so I thought I’d post a little about Haydn whose great work, The Creation, I’ve heard and enjoyed many times.
Franz Joseph Haydn was born in
in 1732 and by 1758 he had become the Kapellmeister (Director of Music) to the court of Count Karl Morzin. Three years later, and now married, he was appointed court musician to Prince Esterhazy, eventually becoming Kapellmeister, where he stayed for almost thirty years. Rohrau, Austria-Hungary
Haydn had visited England a few times and seemingly was so impressed by Handel’s oratorios, particularly The Messiah, that he decided he must try a choral work of his own. Haydn eventually brought his English libretto to
where it was translated into German by Baron Van Swieten, a wealthy patron and diplomat. He began his composition in 1796 and completed it in 1798. Vienna
The Creation used the Bible as its source, mainly the books of Genesis and the Psalms, and took some inspiration from John Milton’s great seventeenth century poem, Paradise Lost. The first performance was sung in German and two years later a bilingual edition was published.
In the midst of the Age of Reason, during the Enlightenment period, Haydn’s great oratorio is undeniably a religious work. The first and second part of the score follows the six days of creation while part three celebrates the place of man and woman in the world. Haydn himself is reported as saying: “I was never so devout as when I was at work on The Creation.”
Franz Joseph Haydn died in
in May 1809, while Napoleon’s army occupied the city. Haydn is credited with establishing the symphonic form and type of orchestral composition that would eventually be adopted by Mozart and Beethoven. It was an exciting time for music as the late Baroque period gave way to the Classical period, of which Haydn arguably was the first great master. Vienna
If anyone is interested, you can read more in my published article on Haydn.