Born to a wheelwright, he left home at age 6 to sing in Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral. When his voice broke, he was dismissed.
Haydn like wine so much, he insisted that part of his salary be paid in it.
The greatest mistake of his life was marrying his wife. Initially, he fell in love with her sister, but she became a nun. Considered a shrew, Haydn’s wife used to rip up his scores and use them as hair curlers.
Haydn and Mozart used to play string quartets together. Haydn played violin and Mozart played viola. Whose music do you think they played?
When a Viennese pianist sneered at a Haydn passage, saying, “I would not have written it that way,” Mozart replied, “Neither would I. And you know why? Because neither of us would have had so excellent an idea.”
At his last public concert, Haydn had to be carried out in a chair, held aloft by adoring musicians. As he passed up the aisle, Beethoven kissed his hands. The audience shed tears. Before reaching the door, Haydn turned and raised his hand to the orchestra, as if in blessing.
Mozart’s Requiem was played at Haydn’s funeral.
For 150 years, Haydn’s skull was displayed at the famed Musikverein (concert hall) in Vienna. Brahms, who couldn’t afford his own home, slept in an apartment there and liked to take Haydn’s skull at night, when he was composing, and put it on his desk for inspiration.