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Haydn, Franz Joseph (1732–1809)

  1. Jane Schatkin Hettrick

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0638

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Hettrick, J. S. 2011. Haydn, Franz Joseph (1732–1809). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


Franz Joseph Haydn was a pious, though not sanctimonious, Catholic who had a sincere trust in the mercy of God. He began his manuscripts with the Latin inscription “In nomine Domini” and ended “Laus Deo.” Like most composers of the time, Haydn's output of sacred music was largely determined by his employment and patrons. He received a solid grounding in (sacred) music as a chorister in St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna (1740–1750). In 1761, after a brief first appointment as music director to Count Morzin in Lucave, he began his lifelong association with the Esterházys, a Hungarian noble family of vast wealth and power. At first Vice-Kapellmeister, then Kapellmeister, he served Prince Nikolaus the Magnificent for nearly 30 years, and continued with the prince's son and grandson. As with Mozart, Haydn's small output of sacred music (until 1796) has been ascribed to the liturgical reforms of Joseph II, but he was undoubtedly very busy with his patron's demands for instrumental and theater music, which was to be composed and directed by the Kapellmeister. Nevertheless, his command of the language of sacred music is evident even in his early works, e.g., the Missa Cellensis (1766), Stabat Mater (1767), Grosse Orgelmesse (c.1768), and the Missa Cellensis (1782). The Kleine Orgelmesse (?1777) is a gem, albeit with telescoped treatment of the Gloria and Credo. On a commission from Cádiz Cathedral in 1786, he composed seven orchestral interludes for “The seven last words of our Saviour on the cross.” In 1796 he adapted this work, which circulated throughout Europe, for chorus, using a pietistic German text.


  • haydn, franz joseph (1732–1809);
  • command of the language of sacred music;
  • handel's oratorios, works of sacred music in his late years;
  • works, 18th-century orchestral mass to its culmination;
  • celebrated composer in Europe, complexity of haydn's music