For many years audiences and concert promoters alike felt that Haydn was second best to the star of Amadeus. This is utterly unfair. In instrumental music Haydn is the more original composer. In the development of opera of course Mozart is peerless. Haydn was employed by the Esterhazy family from 1761 to 1790 when the musical establishment was cut hard back. During these years his output was of the same order of JS Bach. One of the reasons that he developed in such original ways was that he was out of touch with all mainstream musical developments. As he said 'there was no-one nearby to confuse me so I had to become original'! So he invented the symphony and the string quartet and it could be argued that he also created the piano sonata and the piano trio. And this was not a case of 'never mind the quality feel the width'. Haydn created a number of musically perfect masterpieces. The Creation is unsurpassed as an oratorio and the Opus 20 String Quartets are unforgettable. He came to prominence before his great friend Mozart and outlived him. He was one of the first to recognise Mozart's genius, saying to his father 'I tell you before God, and as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me by person and repute, he has taste and what is more the greatest skill in composition'. His list of compositions runs to 54 pages in Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Truly Bachian
Playlist of The Creation and the Opus 20 String Quartets - Desert Islands stuff.