Who was Joseph Haydn?

Joseph Haydn was born in 1732 in a small Austrian town north of the Neusiedler lake. At the age of eight this son of a wheelwright traveled to Vienna to enter the famous St. Stephen’s choir school. This trip was the first step in a journey that would fashion Haydn into the most famous composer of his day, and the father of much of the music still enjoyed today.

Haydn’s success as a composer and performer in and around Vienna in the 1750s gave rise to his  appointment as a court composer to the influential Hungarian family Esterházy in 1761. He was responsible for providing music for all types of occasions at the Esterházy palaces in Vienna, Eisenstadt, and what is now Fertöd in Hungary.  But Vienna’s growing publishing industry contributed to the rapid promulgation of his fame. By the 1780s Haydn’s music could be heard in most major cities in Europe and North America, including Paris, London, Philadelphia and Boston. The popular appeal of his orchestral music in London prompted the composer to take two celebrated trips there in the 1790s.  As the 18th century drew to a close, Joseph Haydn had become the most famous and influential composer in Europe.  

Haydn’s music reflects the tastes of his patrons, but also of the emerging middle-class audiences of the 18th century. His works exemplify the Enlightenment artistic ideal of balancing structural clarity with emotional content. They would become models for 19th century composers, beginning with Beethoven. Haydn Research

The principal purpose of HSNA is the dissemination of information regarding Joseph Haydn’s music and culture to performers, scholars and music connoisseurs throughout the continent. Researchers and musicians at major universities and in association with the most important music organizations in the U.S. and Canada are engaged in Haydn scholarship and performance.  As most of the Haydn sources are contained in collections in Europe, our members can often be spotted in major libraries and concert halls in London, Vienna, Cologne, Budapest, and of course Eisenstadt. 

At present, the HSNA web site and our semi-annual newsletter serve as our main forms of communication. We also sponsor bi-annual conferences where the latest information on Haydn’s music is conveyed through research papers, performances and round  table discussions, and have arranged membership  discounts for scholarly materials with a number of publishers. As our financial resources grow, we plan to establish an on-line Haydn research journal, and offer financial support for dissertation and other scholarly research, special performances and recordings.  To that end, we recently established the Haydn Society of North America Endowment Fund.

Haydn in Performance

Link to Bachtrack HSNA scholars and performers work together to realize Haydn’s music in concerts and recordings.  HSNA members engage in collaborative performance projects, write program and cd liner notes, and organize symposia regarding the latest information on Haydn music sources and performance practice issues. Through these activities, our research comes alive in new and exciting ways, and is realized for the broader public.

Haydn in the Community

Performances of Haydn’s music ultimately benefit communities. Without question, the concerts themselves enrich the municipalities that support the performing arts. HSNA members also give pre-concert lectures and coordinate other informative events with performances that enhance the concert-going experience.  And such activities are not confined to larger cities. For two centuries Haydn’s music has been standard repertoire for community orchestras, amateur choral societies, chamber music recitals, and Roman Catholic masses. Indeed, Haydn’s voice has reached nearly every corner of North America, and will continue to be part of our culture.

Haydn in Education

Haydn’s music is central to teaching basic music skills to young people. Piano teachers, high school music programs, and college-university music programs and general studies courses in music appreciation all benefit from the latest research in Haydn’s music. Haydn’s ability to communicate deeply emotional ideas while clearly presenting and using music’s structural building blocks make his works ideal for teaching the importance of understanding analysis in performance, and of the stylistic characteristics of late 18th-century music. Walk the halls of any school music festival and you are sure hear at least one Haydn piano sonata, string quartet, or song setting.

Membership in HSNA

As a performer, teacher, scholar, or lover of good music, you will certainly be aware of Joseph Haydn's wonderful music, his importance in the history of Classical music, and the need to continue studying, teaching, and performing his life and art. Please accept our invitation to become a member of the Haydn Society of North America.  Members currently receive complete access to HAYDN: Online Journal of the Haydn Society of North America and full use of the electronic newsletter, discounts on books about Haydn and 18th-century music, and reduced registration rates for conferences. Annual membership designations are Regular ($40/year), Student ($30/year), and Retired ($30/year), or you may choose to become a Lifetime member ($500).  Discounted membership ($30/year), including a subscription to the online journal, is available if you are already a member of the Society for Eighteenth Century Music, American Mozart Society, Beethoven Society of America, and Haydn Society of Great Britain. Contact Michael Ruhling for details. Universities, libraries, and other larger institutions are encouraged to register for a multi-user Institutional membership and subscription to the journal.  Membership registration and subscription to the journal are accessible here.

Financial Support

Because of the modest amount we receive in membership dues, we must rely on additional financial resources in order to sustain our current benefits, and to realize our plans for research and performance support, foreign travel, and future publications. Your financial gifts to the HSNA and HSNA Endowment Fund [both tax-exempt under 501(c)(3)] will help ensure that future generations will have the opportunity to study, perform and hear the music of Joseph Haydn.  Please consider making a tax-deductible gift.  If you are interested in making a substantial financial gift or helping to underwrite a specific project or initiative, contact HSNA president Michael E. Ruhling via email, or by telephone at 585-475-2014.