Recording: Performed by the Carmina quartet
While today Franz Joseph Haydn stands in the shadow of his two great contemporaries Mozart and Beethoven, in his time it was Mozart and Beethoven who lived under the shadow of this internationally acclaimed master. His music is characterized more by subtlety and wit than the ambition and bravura of Beethoven, who would become the Romantics’ model of the heroic, tortured artist. Not surprisingly, when Haydn taught Beethoven for a year in Vienna, they didn’t get along (though the two respected each other greatly). At first listen Haydn may appear “nothing special” alongside his more celebrated peers, but don’t be deceived: he was a masterful composer and his music will reward close listening.
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More neat stuff
Haydn was well known as a bit of a prankster. His antics not only got him fired, but also resulted in these musical jokes: the finale of the “joke” quartet, and the second movement of the “surprise” symphony, among others.