A new way of looking at things
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of looking at things.” –  Henry Miller

Curt Veeneman, Ph.D.


Papa Haydn Part 2

7 March 2014


In Part 1 of this blog entry, we discussed Joseph Haydn’s youth in Rohrau, in Hainburg, and finally in Vienna, where he began his career as a young composer.

In 1761, at the age of 29, Haydn became Vice-Kapellmeister to the Esterházys, a Hungarian noble family dating back to the Middle Ages and who were loyal to the Habsburg monarchy.  During this period, the Esterházy court spent part of the time at its palace in Vienna, and part of the time about 40 kilometers away at Schloss Esterházy in Eisenstadt.  By 1766 Haydn had become full Kapellmeister.


Schloss Esterházy is located in Eisenstadt, Austria.



Traveling to Eisenstadt

Getting from Vienna to Eisenstadt by train today is quite simple.  However, it may be instructive at this point to detail the route, although I doubt if anyone’s experience will quite match the one that I had.  (A special note here:  When I lead group tours I normally arrange a private coach to minimize what are known in the travel industry as “surprises. “ However, when I travel by myself I enjoy mixing with the local population and will often take public transportation.)


The initials on this train, ÖBB, stand for Österreichische Bundesbahnen (Austrian Federal Railways). 


On the particular day described in this blog entry, I traveled by train from Vienna to Eisenstadt, and then continued to Esterháza, Hungary, both locations being where Joseph Haydn had spent a good portion of his life.


To highlight any of these locations in which Joseph Haydn lived, roll your cursor over the name of the city or village.


I had researched my itinerary online and understood this day to be full of very tight connections.  I was out the door at 6:45 am.  I took the U-4 [the U-Bahn or Untergrundbahn — the underground rapid transit system] to Längenfeldgasse, then the U-6 to Philadelphiabrücke where, after navigating a labyrinth of tunnels, I finally reached the Wien Meidling Bahnhof [train station] and got on the S-Bahn [the Schnellbahn, the intercity rail system] to Eisenstadt.

However, once I was on the clean, well upholstered, smooth gliding train, with the Austrian countryside streaming by silently, I had a terrifying thought.  With all of my meticulous, scrupulous planning for today, and my heroic efforts to physically align my person with numerous space-time coordinates, I had forgotten to buy a ticket!  I had become so accustomed to carrying a weekly-pass around with me in my wallet to use within Vienna, never even having to get it out as I hopped from one U-Bahn to another, or from a tram to an S-Bahn, that it didn't occur to me that I would need a ticket for this train, which after all, would not be remaining within the limits of the city.

It was one of those “Oh, no, I'm toast” moments — at best I'll be fined, at worst they will kick me off the train in the middle of the Austrian equivalent of Dogpatch with no opportunity to buy a return ticket, exploding the entire day.  I began to imagine what it might feel like to sleep overnight in some Wienerschnitzel field, assuming that's what they grow around here.

Eventually I heard the car door slam behind me and the commotion that precedes a conductor's approach — people messing with purses, wallets, bags to retrieve their tickets.  The conductor, whose face was completely Austrian and had very little or no recognizable English moiré patterns in his eyes, demanded, “Fahrkarte,” fixing his stare on me.

“Sprechen Sie Englisch?” I asked.

“Nein,” was his stoic reply.

I know a little German, but I knew it wasn’t enough to get out of this fix.

After asking, I learned that no one around me spoke English either.  So I confidently launched into English anyway and explained my whole story:  how I had planned the whole trip out, showing him my agenda, how I was honest and would never intentionally neglect to buy a ticket, how I was truly sorry, and that I would buy a ticket for this portion of the journey when I got off the train.

I noticed a slight smile appear on his mouth when I said the word “honest” — I don't know if he even knew the word, or if he did, whether it was an ironic smile, but when I finished my torrential plea he just stood there for a moment and, mustering his best English, said, “No . . . ticket?”  I produced my best bof, shrugging with open hands.  At that point he walked away shaking his head.

I felt relieved, but still not out of the danger zone.  Would they come and kick me off the train at the next stop?  Then I began to be aware of the passengers around me.  Did they think me the ugly American that I try so diligently not even of which to have a semblance?  We stopped at Ebenfurth, then Neufeld/Leitha, and then Müllendorf.  Nothing happened — I was working really hard to be invisible in case the conductor might reappear.

The next stop would be Wulkaprodersdorf, where I had to change trains for the final short distance to Eisenstadt.  I just knew there would be people at that stop who were expertly trained in the use of a Wulka (I’m not sure what that implement is, but it sounds sharp and pointy) to prod a dorf (I’m guessing that’s some Austrian breed of cattle), and possibly decide to use it on me.  Using a Wulka to prod a dorf was not a pleasant thought, but I couldn’t get it out of my head.

At the Wulkaprodersdorf station, with only a four-minute connection, I hopped off the train and onto the one going to Eisenstadt — no one looked at me, no conductors appeared on the next train, and in six minutes I arrived in Eisenstadt. 

It was a tiny station, and in one corner was a machine from which I was determined to extract tickets for my complicated journey through two countries and multiple cities.  As I wrestled with the touch screen, which was obviously not prepared for such complexity, I happened to look over my shoulder and there sitting in an open window was a bored-looking Fräulein.  She smiled as I approached and said “Grüß Gott!” [Greet God, the traditional greeting in Austria].  She informed me, after I asked, that she spoke English.  I think her English was even better than mine.

I explained my projected itinerary and also said that I would like to pay for the leg of the journey that I had just completed but for which I had forgotten to buy a ticket.  She said I didn't have to, and I said, “I insist.”

After, through enormous feats of trigonometry, she worked out my itinerary, she determined that the entire round-trip ticket would cost less than the rest of the trip from this point.  However, she explained for a reason that wasn't clear to me, she needed to make my destination one stop beyond where I was going (Fertöszentmiklós) — maybe it had to do with the fact that my stop was going to be between two villages where the ÖBB had no personnel — and she also couldn't immediately sell me a ticket for the first leg of the trip — from Eisenstadt to Neusiedl am See that I would have to buy just before boarding when I return from visiting Eisenstadt.  She was a true godsend.

Relieved, I could now visit the Schloss Esterházy without concern. Walking to the center of the village, I reached the Schloss Esterházy and bought a ticket that admitted me to the guided tour of the palace to take place at 10 am, as well as the “Haydn Explosiv” exhibition.  It was about 9:30 — just enough time to see what Haydn was exploding about.


One of several cupolas that grace Schloss Esterházy



Schloss Esterházy

Near the entrance to the museum portion of the palace is a plaque that reads, “Meine Sprache verstehet Man durch die ganze Welt”  — Dem großen Musiker Joseph Haydn gewidmet, der in diesen Schloss als Fürstl. Esterhazyscher Kapellmeister gewirkt hat.  This quote alludes to a conversation that Haydn had with Mozart in which the latter remonstrated with him when he was making plans to go to London after his Esterházy stint, “Papa, you have no training for the great world, and you speak too few languages.”  Haydn responded, “My language is understood throughout the world”  — his success in London proved the point.

Inside the museum there are all kinds of paintings of the Habsburg emperors — including Kaiser Joseph II (everything was labeled both in German and Hungarian, e.g., “József császár”) and Kaiser Leopold II —  and the Esterházy princes, including Fürst (Prince) Nikolaus II and Fürst Anton Esterházy.


Portraits of Prince Anton Esterházy and his wife Maria Anna Gräfin Hohenfeld


There were also documents — for example Haydn's employment contract, and a record of an investment that Haydn had made with Prince Esterházy at a fixed interest rate (part of the interest went to Haydn's brother, Michael, also a composer) — a monogrammed (with the initials NE) china breakfast service of Prince Nicholas II, a portrait of Haydn done in 1806, first editions of Haydn's music, a baryton that spins in an alcove, and lots of multimedia:  screens everywhere, projections on the ceiling — I thought it was done very well.  (Although the computer-generated Haydn-face wallpaper was a bit much . . . .)


Haydn’s contract as Kapellmeister


Isidor Neugass (1780-1847): Portrait of Joseph Haydn, oil on canvas, 1806, Schloss Esterházy, Eisenstadt


A gallery in the Haydn museum


About the baryton, which is somewhat of a rare bird.  A bowed string instrument belonging to the viol family, it has six or seven gut strings over a fretted fingerboard.  However, there is a lower set of wire strings that vibrate sympathetically, enhancing the timbre.  (The Indian sitar is designed according to a similar principle.)  The baryton flourished primarily in the 17th and 18th centuries, and was a favorite of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy.  Haydn wrote 123 trios for the combination of baryton, viola, and cello, along with three trios for baryton, cello, and violin.


A baryton at the Haydn Museum in Eisenstadt.  Roll your cursor over the photo for a different angle, and then click your mouse for yet another angle of the instrument as it rotates in its alcove.


At 10 am the tour began.  The guide was an Austrian woman.  Members of the tour, besides myself, included three couples who spoke German — I assume they were Austrian — and as the tour was conducted in German they glommed onto the guide.  I was given an English pamphlet that gave me the gist of what the guide was saying (I could understand her German about half the time) and this allowed me to read ahead and to poke around in corners to satisfy my curiosity while I listened with one ear “auf Deutsch.”

The palace was built in the 13th century and came under the ownership of the Esterházys in 1622, when it was renovated with a Baroque facade.  The Austrian Empire liked the Esterházys because they provided a cushion against the Ottomans, who had taken out most of Hungary.  This palace was one of the summer residences of the Esterházy family when Haydn worked for them as Kapellmeister.  Johann Nepomuk Hummel took over the music side of things after Haydn left. Franz Liszt's father was the manager of the Esterházy estates and Franz Liszt first performed in Eisenstadt at age 8.  Even Schubert gave piano lessons to the Esterházy daughters.

On the tour, we first entered a dining room, containing portraits of the Esterházys as well as Habsburgs.  Then, we went into another room with paintings, one depicting the Leopoldine Temple which I had spied in the garden earlier through a window in the palace.  After more rooms with gilt furnishings, china, and silver-tipped walking sticks used by the servants, we reached the Haydnsaal in the north wing.  Formerly a banquet hall, it is now a concert hall in memory of the composer.  The ceiling is decorated with 17th century frescos and on the walls are medallions with busts of the Hungarian monarchs.  It was an good tour — I probably would have benefited from knowing German a little better — and I have seen much more spectacular places.  But it was inspiring to know that Haydn had composed a good deal of his work here and I could breathe the same air as the great composer.


The Haydnsaal at Schloss Esterházy


I left the Schloss Esterházy and found my way to Haydnstrasse, where there was yet another banner that read:  “Franz Liszt — Das Genie auf Raiding — Born to be a superstar.”  Raiding is a nearby village in Burgenland, of which Eisenstadt is the capital, and is famous for being the place where Liszt was born.  On the banner the composer is shown with his usual long hair and somewhat updated with sunglasses.


Franz Liszt was a “rock star” in 2011, the bicentenary of his birth.



Haydnhaus Eisenstadt

A plaque on the Haydnhaus in Eisenstadt

Not far from the Schloss Esterházy is the Haydnhaus, on which there is a plaque that reads, “In diesem Hause wohnte und wirkte Joseph Haydn in den Jahren 1766-1778 [In this house lived and worked Joseph Haydn in the years 1766-1778].”


Inside I saw the kitchen with crude implements, rooms with period furniture, and various portraits of Haydn.  The exhibits inside were not thrilling, but just like the palace, it was a privilege to be in the place where the great composer had lived.  I must have heard hundreds of his compositions in my life, and have played many at the piano, so it is good to pay him homage.

The kitchen of Haydn’s house in Eisenstadt

Back at the Bahnhof I saw the young woman who had helped me earlier.  She knew just what to do when she saw me, printing out a ticket for the Eisenstadt-Neusiedl portion of the trip.


The Eisenstadt train station



Next stop: Fertöd, Hungary.




 This blog entry, due to its equal relevance to Austria and to Hungary, has been posted under both of those thread headings.

The photographs used in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are by Curt Veeneman.

Related Posts (Austria)

Who started Travel Con Brio®?

Composer, scholar (in music theory, ethnomusicology, and music history), performer, educator, conference organizer, and entrepreneur, Curt Veeneman received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

His additional interests, subsumed in wonder at the beauty of God’s entire creation, include art (he was an art major before the balance tipped ever-so-slightly toward music), literature, architecture, photography, mathematics, history, languages, cultural studies, world-cuisines, and, of course, travel.
photograph by Colleen Veeneman

In founding Travel Con Brio®, Curt was eager to synthesize all of these interests to create imaginative, stirring, and enlightening experiences to be enjoyed by both young and mature travelers alike.  The tours that he organizes reflect his extensive travel experience and familiarity with the art, music and culture of numerous countries, with each tour being richly enhanced by local experts.

Curt and his wife Colleen live near San Francisco.  They have three children.

What is this blog about?

Culled from a number of trips abroad, this blog compiles various experiences in an attempt to reveal the cultural nuances of places visited on Travel Con Brio® tours.  Sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, Curt’s observations are intended to describe and appreciate the personalities, character, idiosyncrasies, conventions, mood, and ambiance of places visited.  Contemplations of topics ranging from language and customs to climate and bureaucracies are freely offered alongside art and music reviews.  Any cultural issue, if illuminating, can become the focus.

These musings on the personal impact of various cultures are offered so that you, as a traveler, may compare and contrast your own impressions with them.  Do you share a similar interest?  Do you agree with a specific conclusion?  Or is there a fine distinction to be made regarding a particular point?  You are invited to leave your comments; please, however, be respectful of other readers.

And last, a caveat:  flukes, asymmetries, and twists of fate may suggest more about Curt than about any foreign culture under discussion.

What are some of Curt Veeneman’s musical activities?

As a composer, Curt has spoken and/or his works have been performed throughout the United States, in Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Bulgaria.  He is the winner of several awards, including the ASCAP-Hubbell Award for composition.

Curt Veeneman's compositions include Les Cloches, inspired by the life of Joan of Arc (premièred by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra), The Wiry Concord for 5-string banjo, dulcimer, cimbalom, harp, harpsichord, piano, viola and percussion (available on Capstone Records), Mountain Thyme, based on Bulgarian folk music (recorded by the Sofia Symphony Orchestra), Alcuin's Riddle, for orchestra and 15 soloists who cross the “audience-river,” Hommage for voice, flute, 'cello, piano, and percussion, Windmills, computer music featuring sampled wind turbines on California's Altamont Pass, and Pneuma for solo flute, (also available on Capstone Records).

Of this last work, the following comments have been made:  “J’ai beaucoup apprécié le lyrisme et la rigueur de Pneuma pour flûte de Curt Veeneman”  (I greatly appreciate the lyricism and the precision of Curt Veeneman’s Pneuma for flute) —Gérard Condé, Le Monde, Paris, 29 August 1996; “a well written piece”  — Robert Dick, flutist, author of The Other Flute; “it is quite exciting!” — Molly Alicia Barth of eighth blackbird; and “strong and imaginative” — Jules Langert, San Francisco Classical Voice, 13 March 2006.

As a new music promoter, he directed the new music ensemble Sonor Borealis at University of Alberta, Canada, and founded and directed the concert series, PACIFIC MARKET: Fresh Music From Around The World, at the University of the Pacific.  As a performer, Curt Veeneman is recorded on Music and Arts.

Other Threads in This Blog: