THE LATE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY:
HAYDN AND MOZART
Haydn and Mozart, the two outstanding composers of the late eighteenth century, had a great deal in common: they were personal friends; each admired and was influenced by the music of the other; they were both practicing musicians—Mozart a virtuoso pianist, Haydn a fine violinist who also conducted from the harpsichord—and they both composed prolifically and with careful attention to detail.
Their lives and careers differed fundamentally, however. Haydn, born in 1732, was seventy-seven when he died in 1809. Mozart, born nearly a generation later in 1756, died in 1791 at the age of thirty-five. Haydn's growth to artistic maturity was much slower than that of Mozart, a child prodigy. Haydn worked contentedly during most of his career in the service of a noble Hungarian family. Mozart gave up a steady job in his hometown of Salzburg to become a free agent in Vienna. Most important, Mozart traveled a great deal in his early years—to England, Italy, Germany, and France—and absorbed the many styles and practices he found there, whereas Haydn took his models from local traditions around Vienna.
Franz Joseph Haydn was born in Rohrau, a little town near the Hungarian border in what is now Austria. He received his first musical training from an uncle with whom he went to live at the age of five. Two years later he became a choirboy at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, where he acquired a great deal of practical experience but received no systematic instruction in music theory.