Haydn memorial year opens in Austria
Mar 31, 2009, 18:11 GMT
Vienna - Austria on Tuesday began celebrations in memory of composer Joseph Haydn who died 200 years ago and is known as the 'father' of the classical symphony.
In Eisenstadt near the Hungarian border, where Haydn served as a composer and musician for the Esterhazy noble family, Austrian President Heinz Fischer opened a large Haydn exhibition.
Fischer said Haydn was 'no shooting star' and had slowly but surely built his career.
Born in 1732, Haydn was the son of a wheelwright. From an early age, he received his musical training as a choir singer.
His career as a composer took off when he began working for the Hungarian Esterhazy princes in 1761. He became a musical star during his two concert tours of London in the 1790s.
'In his time, Haydn was even more popular than Mozart,' according to Austrian conductor Nikloaus Harnoncourt.
Eisenstadt will be one of the centres of the memorial year, where all of Haydn's 107 symphonies are scheduled to be performed, starting with his first symphony, conducted by Harnoncourt on Tuesday.
Haydn's religious oratorio, The Creation, will be performed on the 200th anniversary of his death on May 31 1809, in Eisenstadt and several other locations in Europe, including Amsterdam, as well as in North America and Asia.
Haydn is known to have played a key role in developing the classical symphony structure with its four movements, as well as the string quartet. He was a friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.
One of his most famous compositions is the melody that is used as Germany's national anthem today.