The Kennedy Center

Michael Haydn


Now most famous for being the younger brother of (Franz) Joseph Haydn, Michael Haydn's sacred music was better regarded than that of his brother during their lifetimes.

His early years are largely undocumented. The date of his birth unknown, we do know that he was baptized on September 14 1737 at Rohrau, Lower Austria. Like his brother, Michael was a choirboy at the Stephansdom Cathedral in Vienna. He was a substitute organist and, reportedly, had performed his own compositions at the cathedral by the age of twelve.

After his voice broke, Michael Haydn studied, traveled, wrote and performed in Romania and Vienna, where it seemed his music was garnering a following, before being named court Konzertmeister in Salzburg in 1762. From then until 1771, Haydn's music primarily consisted of dramatic works. His Die Schuldigkeit des erten Gebots (1767) was composed in collaboration with Adigasser and the 11-year-old Wolfgang Mozart. Soon thereafter, Haydn married the daughter of the court organist, Maria Magdelena Lipp. Their one child, Aloysia Josepha,, died before her first birthday.

He composed his best-known works-the Requiem, the Missa S Hieronymi, the offertories Tres sunt, and Lauda Sion-during the 1770s.  Haydn was named court organist (a position vacated by W.A. Mozart), composed simple Mass Propers, and completed twenty symphonies during the 1780s. Later in life, Haydn became a teacher of composition.

In 1801, Michael Hadyn composed a mass for Maria Theresia, in which the Austrian Empress sang a solo part. It was reported that he was named Kapellmeister to Prince Nicolaus Esterházy;  if true, he never assumed the post. He did, however, accept more commissions from Maria Theresia for sacred works: a Te Deum, a mass for Emperor Leopold's nameday, and another requiem left unfinished.  He died on August 10, 1806.
Michael Haydn


  • Notturno in F major