The Younger Haydn

Classical Academy | Composers | Classical Period


The path of Michael Haydn’s early professional career was paved by his older and more famous brother Joseph. Although it was Joseph whose cherished soprano voice as a boy secured places for his younger siblings Michael and Johann in the St Stephen’s Cathedral Choir in Vienna, it is believed that Michael was the brighter student; his voice became the more admired as Joseph grew and began to struggle with the high notes. Appointed choir master in the city of Oradea, he went on to compose over 360 compositions in this role, which held for forty-three years.

The brothers remained close all their lives, Joseph often feeling that Michael’s sacred works were more spiritual than his own. His choral works are considered more important than his secular instrumental pieces, but many of the latter have come to light in the recent past and are increasingly considered as gems of the period. The sad consequence of being not only the younger brother of an all-time great, but the associate of another (Michael knew and was influenced by Mozart) meant that this younger Haydn has suffered from his fair share of “posthumous mistaken identity”. It has taken dedicated scholarly research to finally and rightfully link some works previously attributed to those great men with his name.
Listen to Michael Haydn’s beautiful Nocturne in F on this album of iconic works for strings.