Joseph Haydn was born on March 31st, 1732, in Rohrau (Lower Austria), the second of twelve children of a coach-builder and a cook. His musical talent already became clear at a very early age.
At the age of six, he began receiving instruction in singing and instrumental music with a cousin in Hainburg
(Lower Austria). One day, the conductor of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral
noticed little Joseph Haydn and brought the eight-year-old to Vienna
as a choir boy.
For nine years, he enjoyed a – mainly technical – musical instruction
. In addition, he was also much in demand as a solo singer in the mansions of the Viennese aristocracy.
, when his voice started to break, all of a sudden he was forced to look after himself. He found employment as a valet with the celebrated conductor Nicola Porpora at Michaeler House, which exists to this day, right next to St. Michael’s Church
(where he played the organ). As an exchange, he received thorough musical instructions for five years. He was poor, but happy in his room in the attic: "I could work on my worm-eaten piano and did not envy any king for his happiness."
After a short employment at Wieselburg
Palace (Lower Austria) and as director of music for Count Morzin in Lukawetz
near Pilsen (in today's Czech Republic), he married Maria Anna Keller in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in 1760. She was the daughter of a wigmaker and was in truth his second choice – he would have preferred her sister. The couple had a childless marriage with not much happiness; rumor has it that Haydn had a few relationships “on the side.”