Eisenstadt-the regional capital of Austria’s Burgenland State gained importance during the Esterházy dynasty and the rise of classical composer Franz Joseph Haydn. https://www.biography.com/people/franz-joseph-haydn-9332156Hanging out in this quaint city of just 14,000 a few balmy days gave me the chance to immerse myself into its rich culture and musical heritage.
Eisenstadt owes much of its widespread cultural fame to the unwavering support and vision of the Esterhazy princes. Blue-blooded Hungarians, these influential noblemen acquired the city’s 13th century baroque castle in 1649, transforming it into a prominent center of courtly life and thriving cultural hotspot. During their 300-year reign, Haydn’s genius emerged.
Prince Paul Anton II, a patron of music, is credited for appointing 29 year-old Haydn as the court music director in 1761. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_II_Anton,_Prince_Esterházy For over forty years, many of Haydn’s glorious compositions were premiered here in the Esterházy palace’s Haydn Concert Hall. https://esterhazy.at/en/esterhazypalace/index.do
Touring the stately venue, I find myself flooded in red; rows of red velvet cushioned seats, brocaded window drapings. Spellbound, I daydream, sweet strains of violin melodies echoing off gold-paneled walls and frescoed ceilings.
Strolling into the adjacent palace grounds, the Greek-inspired Leopoldinen Temple overlooking a lily-hugging pond, charms, evoking fantasies of the once-upon-a-time secret outings of the Esterházy nobility.
The Haydn House, the composer’s long-time residence sits adjacent to the town square and takes visitors on a tour through his extraordinary life. Hand-written manuscripts, musical instruments, and priceless memorabilia are showcased in addition to a multimedia presentation offering visitors a rare glimpse into the day-today life of the beloved composer.
It was March 31, 1732 when Baby Haydn slipped into this world in Rohrau, a rural village along the Hungarian border. Although his parents had no formal musical training, father Mathias loved folk music and taught himself to play the harp. Sing-a-longs became a regular practice fostering Haydn’s talent to eventually become an accomplished composer, influencing his contemporaries Mozart https://www.biography.com/people/wolfgang-mozart-9417115 and Beethoven. https://www.biography.com/people/ludwig-van-beethoven-9204862. The annual Haydn festival held late August since 1989, celebrating Haydn’s genius, showcases his timeless works to classical music aficionados from near and far. https://www.haydnfestival.at
In the sunny courtyard of Haydn’s modest birthplace, a thatched roof farmhouse, I reflect on his great symphonies, string quartets, masses, and concertos. Indeed a life well lived. Thank you for the music!