projektinfo1796-1809 THE LATE ESTERHÁZY PERIOD

A few days after Haydn left Vienna in January 1794 Prince Paul Anton Esterházy died. His successor Nicholas II (1765-1833) told Haydn in summer that he intended to re-establish the orchestra and, as he still considered Haydn his kapellmeister, summoned him to return to Eisenstadt. The news was not displeasing to Haydn, for in consideration of his circumstances he did not want to remain in a foreign country forever. In Austria, however, he could count on the support of a royal pension and, if needed, welfare. Now world-famous and wealthy, Haydn arrived in Vienna in September 1795 and stood in the service of his fourth Esterházy prince, whose refurbishment of the palace and the park in Eisenstadt remain unaltered to this day.

The fourth Esterházy prince whom Haydn now served was an ardent lover of theatre and art collector. His interest in music was restricted primarily to sacred music and Haydn's most important responsibility was to compose masses. From 1795 until his death Haydn lived in Gumpendorf near Vienna, apart from his annual summer stays in Eisenstadt, where until 1802 he composed a mass every year to celebrate the name day of Princess Maria Josepha Hermenegild (1768-1845) and conducted the performances at the Bergkirche. The genius of Haydn`s choral music is evident in these masses, as it is in his later oratorios.

Early in 1797 with Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser Joseph Haydn composed one of his most famous works, which was the Austrian national anthem on into the twentieth century and, with Hoffmann von Fallersleben`s verse “Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit´´ (unity and justice and freedom), is the German national anthem today. The birthday of Emperor Francis II (1768-1835) was the occasion for the first performance. On 12 February 1797, this simple, classically beautiful melody was sung at the Burgtheater in Vienna with the emperor and empress in attendance. The new anthem was meant as a counterpart to the French Marseillaise and as a "folk song´´ an expression of a new patriotic enthusiasm. Later Haydn used the melody for the slow movement in his famous Emperor Quartet Op.76.

"...I was never as devout as when I was at work on The Creation; I fell to my knees daily...," Haydn told his biographer Griesinger. After the monumental Handel concerts which Haydn heard in London, he had wanted to write an oratorio which would be a moral and artistic experience for every listener. The well-known music lover Gottfried von Swieten (1730-1803) wrote a German libretto based on the English text by Lidley. A resounding success, the premiere performance of The Creation took place on 30 April 1798 before an illustrious audience at Schwarzenberg Palace on the Neuer Markt in Vienna. Joseph Haydn wrote his last oratorio in 1801 with The Seasons (Hob.XXI:3).

At the very beginning of 1803 the time had come for Haydn to stop composing. At the recommendation of his biographer Griesinger Haydn published the unfinished string quartet, Op. 103, a two-movement “farewell´´ together with the “calling card´´ bearing the text: "Gone is all my strength, old and weak am I.´´ On 26 December 1803 Haydn gave his last public performance, but resolutely declined travel invitations and commissions for compositions of any kind. During his final years Haydn received visits from prominent personalities and as a honorary citizen of Vienna was celebrated as "the grand old man" who was decorated with diplomas, medals and memberships from many of Europe`s important musical societies.

The last time Haydn appeared in public was on the occasion of his 76th birthday on 27 March 1808 during the performance of his oratorio The Creation in the auditorium of the Old University of Vienna. This celebrated concert was captured in a watercolour miniature by Balthasar Wigand. Prince Nicholas Esterházy II provided a carriage so that the ailing Haydn could travel comfortably from his house in Gumpendorf to the city centre. When two footmen carried Haydn into the auditorium in a sedan chair festive trumpet fanfares were sounded. The audience cheered "Vivat Haydn!" and his former student, Ludwig van Beethoven, kissed his hand in order to welcome the master. Attended by all of Vienna's nobility, the performance was conducted by Antonio Salieri (1750-1825).

Joseph Haydn died peacefully on 31 May 1809 at his house at Gumpendorf during Napoleon's siege of Vienna. On 1 June he was buried at the Hundsthurmer cemetery and the following day a requiem was held in the church at Gumpendorf. Two weeks later a large commemorative mass was celebrated at the Schottenkirche in Vienna, attended by the elegant of Viennese society. Haydn's remains are now buried in a mausoleum in the Bergkirche in Eisenstadt, which Prince Paul Esterházy had built in 1932.

With the establishment of the Haydn Festival in Burgenland in 1986 the concert scene gained critical momentum not only at Eisenstadt, but throughout the entire region. Since then regular concert activity has been established at Esterházy Palace, forming the most important cultural infrastructure for the region in the sphere of classical music. The annual International Haydn Days are among Europe`s most important festivals, furnishing a stage for the world`s best interpreters of Haydn. Comprehensive musical activity as a memorial to Joseph Haydn is provided by the Joseph Haydn Conservatory established in the Austrian province of Burgenland in 1971 as well as the International Joseph Haydn Foundation founded in Eisenstadt in 1993, which is an appropriate enhancement to the conservatory in the matters of research and archive-related work.