Eisenstadt is the state capital of Burgenland – one of Austria’s eastern provinces nestling on the border with Hungary.
But it is also known as the ‘Haydn City’ because of its association with the famous composer Joseph Haydn and his long residence as music director for the wealthy Esterházy princes.
Haydn was associated with Eisenstadt for nearly 40 years of his life and he is buried in the Bergkirche, a church on a city hill where many of his original compositions were first performed.
The noble Esterházy family first engaged Haydn as deputy musical director in 1761. He was later promoted to musical director and spent much of his time composing productions which would be held at the magnificent Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt.
The palace is renowned as one of the loveliest baroque buildings in Austria. One of its best-known features is the Haydnsaal, a concert hall that to this day is famous for its acoustics during recitals.
The palace, now owned by the Esterházy Foundation, offers a regular summer programme of Haydn concerts and exhibitions. The palace is also open daily for tours in the summer months.
More information: esterhazy.at
The church is located not far from the palace and was constructed during most of the 18th century. It is often referred to as the ‘Haydn Church’ as the composer played the organ here and a number of his compositions had their premiere in this location.
After Haydn’s death in 1809, he was first buried in a Viennese cemetery. His remains were then transferred to Eisenstadt in 1820 by the Esterházy family, although without the skull, which had been removed or stolen for research.
A mausoleum for Haydn’s remains was built in 1932 but it was not until more than 20 years later that the composer’s skull was finally laid to rest with the other remains during a religious procession and ceremony.
More information: haydnkirche.at
The Haydn House
Joseph Haydn lived in this house near the Esterházy Palace for 12 years during his work as musical director for the family.
During the time that he lived there, Eisenstadt suffered two big fires, which sadly led to the loss of works by Haydn.
However household items which had been lost or damaged in the blazes were documented, as well as legal battles with his neighbours.
Information about Haydn’s life in Eisenstadt can be seen in a permanent exhibition at the house, which is open daily during the summer months.
More information: www.haydnhaus.at
During the summer months there are regular performances of Haydn’s works in Eisenstadt. Full details of the events and of other sights in the city can be found at the Eisenstadt-Leithaland Tourist Office in the city centre.
More information: eisenstadt-leithaland.at