Franz Joseph Haydn was born the son of the wainwright Mathias and his wife Anna Maria on 31 March 1732 in the small Lower Austrian town of Rohrau near the Hungarian border. Joseph was the second of their 12 children, and Michael (1737-1806), who was also a composer, was the sixth child. The young Haydn gathered his first musical impressions from the folk music played at home by his father, who had an enormous inherent love of music.´´ At the age of five Joseph Haydn was brought to a distant relative in Hainburg named Johann Mathias Franck, who gave the boy his first musical instruction.
Having succeeded his father as kapellmeister at Vienna`s Stefansdom in 1738, Georg Reutter the Younger (1708-1772) was searching for talented choristers when in Hainburg on a visit to the town priest, probably in the year 1739. On this occasion he had the young Haydn give a vocal audition and recognised his musical talent. At the age of eight Haydn was accepted as a chorister into the Kapellhaus of Vienna`s Stefansdom. In addition to very negligent instruction´´ in general subjects, Haydn received vocal training as well as piano and violin lessons.
Kapellmeister Reutter`s house in which Joseph Haydn and another five choirboys lived was close to Vienna`s Stefansdom nestled between a four-story apartment building and the Magdalenenkapelle. Vienna, the capital of the gigantic Habsburg Empire, had been the centre of an important musical tradition for generations: at the court of Emperor Charles VI music had reached a golden age with the Late Baroque`s two most important representatives, Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741) and Antonia Caldara (1670-1736).
1749/50 marked the end of Haydn`s time as a chorister as his voice was changing and he was dismissed from the boarding school for misbehaviour.