The Tabernacle Choir Blog

“The Heavens Are Telling” from The Creation by Franz Joseph Haydn

The Life of Haydn

Nicknamed the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet," Franz Joseph Haydn, born in 1732, was a highly respected composer of the classical period. By the time of his death at age 77, he was regarded as one of the acclaimed composers in Europe.

From a young age his parents realized he was gifted in music and agreed to have him apprenticed by a relative. At about six years old, Haydn moved approximately eight miles away from home and never returned to live with his parents. During his apprenticeship he learned to play the harpsichord and the violin. He was also a gifted singer, and he became a choirboy and relocated to Vienna, Austria. Once his voice matured beyond the point of hitting high notes, he began to seek out a career as a freelance instrumental musician.

His reputation as a respected musician developed quickly, and he began composing operas and string quartets. In the 1780s Haydn befriended Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the two often praised each other’s work. Mozart even dedicated a set of string quartets to Haydn. In the 1790s Hadyn also met and became a teacher to Ludwig van Beethoven.

The Creation

Haydn composed what is regarded as one of his greatest oratorios, The Creation, in 1797–98 with librettist Baron van Swieten. Movement no. 13 of Part 1, Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes or “The Heavens Are Telling,” is based on Psalm 19:1-3. Haydn took an interest in astronomy and the discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton and held the view that an orderly universe substantiated a belief in divine wisdom. The victory of light over darkness is implied by Haydn's use of the key of C major, as opposed to C minor, which had begun Part 1.

Watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform Haydn’s “The Heavens Are Telling.”

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