Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Bicentennial of Haydn's Death

This year has been noteworthy for historians, not only because it brought the inauguration of the first black president but also because it marked the bicentennial of the births of many famous people.

So far in 2009, we've seen the 200th birthdays of Edgar Allan Poe, Felix Mendelssohn, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin with others still to come.

But 2009 is also the bicentennial of the deaths of some important people, and perhaps the most significant is the one who died 200 years ago today, Joseph Haydn.

Haydn is often called the most significant composer of the classical period. He was a friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and he was Ludwig van Beethoven's teacher.

He has been called the "Father of the Symphony" and the "Father of the String Quartet." He also played key roles in the developments of the piano trio and the sonata.

Many people made contributions to classical music, but it's hard to imagine anyone who had more of an influence than Haydn. It is entirely appropriate for us to remember him on this day.