Humorous, earnest, prolific and always deeply humane, the Austrian composer is credited with inventing the symphony and the string quartet. Even if that’s not strictly true, his creativity shaped Western classical music Europe’s most celebrated composer in the late 18th century, Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was known for his brilliant synthesis of emerging styles, which helped set the course of western classical music as we know it. Famed as the father of the symphony and of the string quartet, in reality he invented neither – but he did consolidate new principles of musical form, based on balance and proportion, expectation and fulfilment. Haydn’s gift was in flexing the rules to ensure variety, creating tensions and dramatic effects. As humorous as he was earnest, Haydn always reveals his deep humanity in his music.
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