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Franz Joseph Haydn
1732-1809. Music composer. Son of a humble wheelwright in lower Austria, he rose to be the Kapellmeister of the dazzling princely court at Esterhaz, Hungary, and one of the most sought-after composers in Europe. In his later years he wrote his greatest symphonies for London audiences, and received an honorary doctorate at Oxford. He spent his last years in Vienna. Although his greatest energies were spent in the realm of the symphony and the string quartet, he wrote at least a dozen Masses, the last six postdating his symphonic output and considered by some critics his crowning achievement. He also wrote a variety of works for the Catholic rite in the classical, symphonic style, a setting of The Seven Last Words, and his magnificent oratorio, The Creation, inspired by his experiences with Handel's* music in England. His church music has been frequently criticized unjustly as being too lighthearted for the sanctuary; it simply represents the taste of the classical era. His younger brother Michael was also a distinguished and voluminous composer of Catholic church music in the classical vein.