This paper explores Arnold Schoenberg’s curious ambivalence towards Haydn. Schoenberg recognized Haydn as an important figure in the German serious music tradition, but never closely examined or clearly articulated Haydn’s influence and import on his own musical style and ethos, as he did with many other major composers. This paper argues that Schoenberg failed to explicitly recognize Haydn as a major influence because he saw Haydn as he saw himself, namely as a somewhat ungainly, paradoxical figure, with one foot in the past and one in the future. In his voluminous writings on music, Haydn is mentioned by Schoenberg far less frequently than Bach, Mozart, or Beethoven, and his music appears rarely as examples in Schoenberg’s theoretical texts. When Schoenberg does talk about Haydn’s music, he invokes — with tacit negativity — its accessibility, counterpoising it with more recondite music, such as Beethoven’s, or his own. On the other hand, Schoenberg also praises Haydn for his complex, irregular phrasing and harmonic exploration. Haydn thus appears in Schoenberg’s writings as a figure invested with ambivalence: a key member of the First Viennese triumvirate, but at the same time he is curiously phantasmal, and is accorded a peripheral place in Schoenberg’s version of the canon and his own musical genealogy.