Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Joseph II (full name: Joseph Benedikt August Johannes Anton Michael Adam; March 13, 1741February 20, 1790) was Holy Roman Emperor from 1765 to 1790 and ruler of the Habsburg lands from 1780 to 1790. He was the eldest son of Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, Francis I. Joseph was a proponent of enlightened absolutism.

He is known by the following names in the languages of his territories: German: Joseph II., Dutch: Jozef II, Italian: Giuseppe II, Czech: Josef II, Slovak: Jozef II, Slovenian: Jožef II Romanian: Iosif al II-lea, Hungarian: II. József, Croatian: Josip II., Polish: Józef II.

Patron of the arts

Like many of the "enlightened monarchs" of his time, Joseph was a lover and patron of the arts. He was known as the "Musical King" and steered Austrian high culture towards a more Germanic orientation. He commissioned the German-language opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail from Mozart. The young Ludwig van Beethoven was commissioned to write a funeral cantata for him, but it was not performed because of its technical difficulty.

Joseph is prominently featured in Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus, and the movie based upon it. In the movie, he is played by actor Jeffrey Jones as a well-meaning but somewhat clueless monarch of limited but enthusiastic musical skill, easily manipulated by Salieri; however, Shaffer has made it clear his play is fiction in many respects and not intended to portray historical reality. Joseph was portrayed by Danny Huston in the 2006 film Marie Antoinette.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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