Franz Joseph Haydn

Famously known as the "Father of the Symphony", Haydn is almost universally regarded as one of the most important composers of the classical period. Without him, there would arguably have been no Mozart, or indeed Beethoven.

Haydn mastered almost every musical genre he composed in, from string quartets and piano sonatas to full-scale symphonies and choral works. His output was truly extraordinary: 104 symphonies, 16 overtures 76 quartets, 68 trios, 54 sonatas, 31 concertos, and these are only the most-performed works.

Haydn’s style is often pigeon-holed as light, mannered and formulaic, but to do this is to completely ignore the originality and emotional depth contained in many of his finest pieces. The inherent light-heartedness and humour of some of the symphonies, notably No. 94 The Surprise, No. 101 The Clock and No. 104 London, are probably the cause for this misunderstanding, but in works such as The Creation and the String Quartet No. 62, it is clear that this composer is the true predecessor of the drama, expression and emotion of Beethoven.