Franz Joseph Haydn was born on March 31st, 1732 in Rohrau, a village in Austria about 30 miles south-east of Vienna.
Unlike many great composers, Haydn did not come from a musical family. Haydn instead learned music from a paternal cousin named J.M. Franck.
Because of his notable singing ability, at the age of 8 he travelled to Vienna where he joined the choir at St. Stephens.
Haydn spent a majority of his career employed at Esterhaza where he composed for numerous Esterhazy princes, including Prince Nicolas, for whom Haydn was forced to write a great deal of music for baryton, an out-dated cello-like instrument.
Haydn’s musical output was immense. The exact amount of works he produced is unknown, however he is credited to over 100 symphonies, 84 string quartets, 25 concertos, 52 piano sonatas, 12 masses, 24 operas, and 10 oratorios and cantatas.
In November of 1772, he wrote the Farewell Symphony. During its performance, one by one each member of the orchestra packs up their instruments and leaves the stage until there are only two violins left playing.
Franz Joseph Haydn died on May 31st, 1809 in Vienna, Austria at the age of 77.