Franz Joseph Haydn

Class: Grade 8                                                 Date: TBD      

Topic: Social Issues                                         Subject: Music (crossed with Eng. Lang. Arts)

Lesson Plan50 Minutes
Content: Students learn about the life of Franz Joseph Haydn and his string quartet composition called the Emperor Quartet. A brief history of how this composition came to be along with a discussion on why this is important to us today and how it applies to us. Students cut the lyrics from this anthem to create “cut poetry” to represent their chosen social issue.
Outcomes and Indicators:
(Arts Ed) CH8.1 Research and share insights about arts expressions that incorporate social commentary. Research independently, using the Internet and other sources, the work of visual and performing artists who address social issues. Analyze and comment on the effectiveness of using the arts as a vehicle for social change.
(ELA) CR8.1 View, listen to, read, comprehend, and respond to a variety of texts that address identity (e.g., Becoming Myself), social responsibility (e.g., In Search of Justice), and efficacy (e.g., Building a Better World). View, listen to, read, and respond to a variety of visual, multimedia (including digital), oral, and print texts that address the grade-level themes and issues related to identity, social responsibility, and efficacy including those that reflect diverse personal identities, worldviews, and backgrounds (e.g., appearance, culture, socio-economic status, ability, age, gender, sexual orientation, language, career pathway).
Assessment: Cut poetry is handed in at the end of class with 2 sentences explaining/ commenting on their poem: what it means to them and how it applies/ represents their social cause.
Prerequisite Learning: Students need to know and understand what social issues are and be able to choose one as their “cause”. Social issues can be anything such as: Poverty, Homelessness, Climate change, Overpopulation, Immigration, Animal rights, Eating disorders, suicide, pollution, etc. Students need an understanding of what these terms mean; if they do not the teacher needs to be prepared to briefly cover what they mean or have handouts with a paragraph explaining.
Lesson Preparation Equipment/Materials Computer, Audio, Internet, YouTube (first 2 minutes). Picture of Esterhazy house in Vienna. Copy of lyrics to Emperor Quartet for each student. Cardstock, scissors, glue, pencils, pens, markers. Short story (local news article, picture book, etc) about a youth being socially engaged in their community. Advanced Preparation Photocopied lyrics to Emperor Quartet (included) for each student. Find a recent news article regarding a youth being socially engaged or bring the book Build a Better World. Find an appropriate pop song that can be played in class (no cursing or reference to drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.).
Set: (6 min) Have students listen to “Emperor Quartet” by Haydn, first few minutes. Why learn about composers who lived over 200 years ago? Listen to an appropriate pop song; Ex: something by Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran, etc. Most of western music (including pop, western, rock, hip-hop, etc) is built off music systems, rules, developments, etc of European composers.

Development: (34 min) Invite students to research the work of visual & performing artists that address a social issue.   One student reads soliloquy (included, I wrote). Hand out lyrics for Emperor Quartet and listen to the first few minutes of the piece again encouraging students to follow along. Discuss (answers found within the soliloquy) why Haydn composed this piece of music. What inspired him? Who/ what did he compose for? What was the purpose of his composition? What was his social issue? How did Haydn use his art for social change? How can art be an effective vehicle for social change? What can you do to promote social change? Students cut the prepared lyrics and create their own poem to represent their social issue. The cut words can appear in any order the students choose. New words can be added; encourage students to use at least some of the lyrics provided. Encourage a nice visual representation. On the back of their cut poetry the student writes two sentences explaining/ commenting on their poem: what it means to them.

Closure: (10 min) Students can share their cut poetry. Cut poetry is handed in for assessment.
Classroom Management Strategies The research section of this lesson is meant to be brief, not to monopolize the entire lesson. Look for a student volunteer with strong reading skills. Help with the big word Kapellmeister.   Students may be discouraged because they don’t understand words in the given poem. Emperor: king or ruler Bliss: great joy Laurel branches: green glossy shrub/ plant leaves Wreath: an arrangement of flowers                 Students do not have to share their cut poetry vocally in front of the class but are encouraged to.


  1. Students may enjoy writing a full poem/ lyrics to accompany Haydn’s composition, replacing the lyrics Haydn used (written by poet Lorenz Leopold Haschka) that represent their social cause.
  2. Research the meaning behind England’s national anthem God Save the Queen.
  3. The student can further research their social issue and hypothesise how change can occur.

Adaptive Dimension:

  1. Students can read the soliloquy at their own pace and then respond using cut poetry.
  2. Perhaps the students do not understand what social issues are: be prepared to discuss or have handouts to cover these topics.


My name is Franz Joseph Haydn (pronounced HIGH-Den), known as “Papa” Haydn. I worked most of my career for the same wealthy Esterhazy family. {Show their home in Vienna.

I only had one teacher and in 1759 I began my first full time position as Kapellmeister to count Ferdinand von Morzin where I conducted, composed, and performed. I married Maria Anna Keller and 7 years later we moved with the wealthy Esterhazy family to their estate. I had a very strict dress code but they gave me freedom to discover my artistic voice and creative freedom. In the 1790’s I made 2 financially successful trips to London, England (a 15.5-hour drive nowadays!). While in England I grew to admire the national anthem, God Save the Queen. In 1796 (224 years ago!), I was so inspired by England’s national anthem that I wrote my own moving national anthem inspired by God Save the Queen. I wrote this for my native country Austria, in honour of its emperor, Francis 2 and it became known as the Emperor Quartet.

Lyrics: by poet Lorenz Leopold Haschka

God save Francis the Emperor, our good Emperor Francis!

Long live Francis the Emperor in the brightest splendor of bliss!

May laurel branches bloom for him, wherever he goes, as a wreath of honour.

God save Francis the Emperor, our good Emperor Francis!

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