Franz Joseph Haydn Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about legendary composer Franz Joseph Haydn with the help of this lesson plan. Students will study a text lesson, take a related quiz to follow-up, and participate in three activities to solidify major concepts.

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, your students should be able to:

  • name some of the famous works composed by Franz Joseph Haydn
  • outline highlights from Haydn's musical career as he moved to different venues
  • discuss the influence Haydn had on other musicians of his time and later


1-1.5 Hours


  • Internet access for research
  • Audio of 'Trumpet Concerto' by Haydn, available online
  • Copies of the text lesson Franz Joseph Haydn: Biography, Music & Facts along with the accompanying lesson quiz, one per student.
  • Globe
  • Image of Franz Joseph Haydn
  • Paper
  • Index cards
  • Handouts listing the years for 14 important events in Haydn's life (1732, 1758, 1761, 1766, 1772, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1790, 1792, 1794, 1795, 1796, 1809)
  • Pencils and/or pens

Key Vocabulary

  • Classical era
  • Countess Maria Thun
  • Count von Morzin
  • Esterhazy family
  • Franz Joseph Haydn
  • Orchestra
  • Papa
  • String Quartet
  • Symphony

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.


  • Inform your students they will be studying the late 18th-century classical composer Franz Joseph Haydn.
  • Display a picture of Haydn.
  • Hold up a globe and point to Austria. Show them where Europe is in relation to America.
  • Ask students if they know anything about Haydn or the Classical era.
  • Preview vocabulary terms.
  • Hand out copies of the text lesson Franz Joseph Haydn: Biography, Music & Facts. Have your students read the introduction and the first section 'The Lean Years.'
    • What was Haydn's life like as a boy and before he became famous?
    • How old was he when he became music director as well as court composer?
    • With what era is his name synonymous?
    • What two genres is he credited with standardizing?
    • Other than Austria, in what other country was he quite popular?
  • Now have the students read the section 'Getting Established.'
    • What new family hired Haydn?
    • In what country was the second palace built?
    • What were some of the complaints of the musicians there?
    • Which symphony did Haydn write to help the musicians?
    • How did the prince react to this music?
    • What affectionate nickname did the musicians give Haydn?
  • Next have the students read the section 'Increasing Popularity.'
    • With whom did Haydn become friends with in 1780?
    • Why is one of his works called the Surprise Symphony?
    • Who did Haydn teach unsuccessfully in 1792?
  • Next read the section 'Final Years.'
    • For what new instrument did Haydn write a concerto?
    • Why did he retire from composing?
  • Finally, have the students read the section 'Lesson Summary' and answer any pertinent questions.
  • Have the students take the lesson quiz to demonstrate understanding.

Activity One

  • Inform your students they are going to work in pairs to develop a timeline for major events in Haydn's life.
  • Pass out 14 index cards and the list of years to each pair of students.
  • Tell students to use the text lesson as a guide to find out what happened to Haydn for each of the 14 years. All the dates and events are either in the text lesson, or can be calculated from the text lesson. The year should go on one side of the index card and the event on the other side of the index card.
  • When students are finished with their cards, have them shuffle the 'decks,' putting the life events out of order and exchange with another pair.
  • With their new deck in hand, have each set of partners put the deck back in chronological order, checking that the life event assigned to that date/year is correct. To reference:
    • 1732 - Haydn was born
    • 1758 - Became court composer and music director
    • 1761 - Haydn changed jobs
    • 1766 - Second palace built in Hungary
    • 1772 - Composed Farewell Symphony
    • 1779 - Renegotiated contract
    • 1780 - Composed symphonies in Paris
    • 1781 - Haydn met Mozart
    • 1790 - Prince Nicholas died and orchestra disbanded
    • 1792 - Haydn taught Beethoven
    • 1794 - Wrote his last set of symphonies (in London)
    • 1795 - Prince Esterhazy died
    • 1796 - Haydn wrote the Trumpet Concerto
    • 1809 - Haydn died
  • After the students have finished, review the timeline in order.
    • Do you have any further comments or questions?

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