The great composers often lived colourful lives reflective of the triumphs and the tragedies of their musical careers. Not all of them, however, managed to always stay on the right side of the law. From those who went down to those who got off scot free, here are 20 of the best (or worst) with a criminally good playlist to listen to as you take a stroll through classical music’s rogues’ gallery.

Joseph Haydn

Crime: Simple assault
Throughout his adult life, Joseph Haydn was a consummate professional, albeit one known for his cheeky sense of humour. However, a childhood prank once cost him dear. Picked out as a gifted singer at the age of eight, young Joseph was enrolled at Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral where he spent nine years as a well-regarded chorister until, alas, his voice broke. So unfortunate was the ensuing racket, the Empress Maria Theresa herself complained to Haydn’s choirmaster: “That boy doesn’t sing, he crows!” she sniped.

Joseph Haydn playing quartets Anonymous - painting from the StaatsMuseum, Vienna Joseph Haydn playing quartets

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