More than any other composer, Franz Joseph Haydn deserves to be called the father of music's Classical style. As he came of age in the mid-18th century, musical thinking was in the midst of profound changes. The compositional forms and procedures of the Baroque era began to seem old-fashioned and composers sought fresh modes of musical expression. Out of their search emerged brand new musical forms, most notably the symphony and string quartet, and a new style that valued poetic melodies and harmonies over learned counterpoint.
Haydn played a crucial role in establishing the new classical forms. For all practical purposes he invented the string quartet as a musical form, and his contributions to the symphony helped develop that format from a modest off-shoot of the opera overture into the most potent and attractive type of instrumental music available to composers.
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