At six, Joseph Haydn was beaten for stealing bread. In his sixties, he became perhaps the only great man to be honored with a statue while he was still alive.
The years between—the hard years when he struggled to learn and to have enough to eat, and the great years when his glorious music poured forth for the world—were lived by a simple man who happened to be a genius.
Born at Rohrau, the future composer lived only a short time with his parents, being sent at six to a more prosperous cousin's home to learn music. Two years later, he was packed off to a Viennese choir school where he had only a few lessons in composition and was expelled at seventeen when his voice began to change.
Alone, poor, he traveled a tortuous path until it led him to Eisenstadt and the patronage of the powerful princes of Esterhazy. Here, Haydn composed music that was played around the world. But it was not until he visited London, more than thirty years later, that he himself learned how many people loved his works.
However, his simplicity, his love for all music, remained unchanged. And at the end of his life, he gave the world his masterpiece, The Creation.
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