Composer of the Week - Michael Haydn - Episode 1
He was respected by Mozart, revered by Schubert, and regarded during his lifetime as the leading contemporary composer of church music. Who was he? The answer is Michael - yes, Michael - Haydn. Johann Michael Haydn, to give him his full name, has come down to posterity as little more than a footnote in the biography of his celebrated older brother, Joseph. After all, Joseph Haydn was 'father' of the symphony and the string quartet - and Michael wasn't.
Michael Haydn may be less historically significant than Joseph, but he's nonetheless an important composer in his own right, and his achievement has been overshadowed in a way that it might perhaps not have been had he borne a different family name. Michael Haydn has come down to posterity as little more than a footnote in the biography of his celebrated older brother, Joseph. Donald Macleod takes him out of those footnotes and into the footlights, placing him centre-stage for a change - a position he can occupy quite unapologetically and without having to ask his big brother's permission.
This episode sees him take up his first job - as Music Director to the Bishop of Grosswardein - and move on to his second, as concertmaster to the archiepiscopal court at Salzburg, where he was to remain until his death 43 years later, working alongside Leopold Mozart and, for a time, his son Wolfgang. On the playlist: Haydn's first symphony; an early liturgical work, Christus factus est; his only surviving piano composition; and an extract from one of his most brilliantly virtuosic serenades.