Last week we took a look at Beethoven’s parents. This week, let’s look at Mathias Haydn, father to composer Franz Joseph, composer Johann Michael Haydn and tenor Johann Evangelist.
Mathias was born in 1699 in the small town of Hainburg. His father, Thomas, was a wheelwright and Mathias followed in his footsteps. After his apprenticeship, he left Hainburg and traveled as a journeyman for 10 years. It is during this time that Mathias took up the harp. He was self taught and could not read music but he had a great love for music and apparently a lovely tenor voice. In 1727, he returned and became a master wheelwright, joining the guild. The next year, he married Maria Koller. They settled in Rohrau in a house that Mathias had built himself.
Mathias and Maria both sang and included their children in learning those folk songs. The family performed small concerts for their village neighbours. At the age of six, Joseph was sent to Hainburg to start his studies in music with the blessing of his parents. In turn, his two brothers followed.
In 1741, Mathis became the Marktrichter (meaning market judge in German), what we might think of as a village mayor, though his duties far exceeded that as he was responsible for the conduct of the people, including ensuring that they went to church each week. He held this position until 1761.
In 1747, Maria died and Mathis remarried soon after. Mathis passed away in 1763 after an accident while working which resulted in several broken ribs. He lived long enough to see his children well on their way to successful careers!