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 3

14 March 2014

Portrait of Josef Haydn, Haydnhaus, Eisenstadt


In Part 1 of this blog entry, we discussed Joseph Haydn’s formative years in Rohrau, in Hainburg, and in Vienna; in Part 2 we saw how he rose to the rank of Kapellmeister at the Esterházy court in  Eisenstadt.  As it happened, due to the preferences of Prince Nikolaus I (1714–1790) — Nikolaus's predecessor, Prince Paul Anton (1711–1762) had died shortly after Haydn began to serve at the court — stays much farther away at the summer palace in Esterháza, Hungary, were growing longer and more frequent each year for all of those at the court.  Below I recount my continuing journey from Eisenstadt to the Esterházy palace near Fertöd, Hungary.


Traveling to Esterháza

Once I got on the train, I was happy to be armed with a ticket this time and I could relax — somewhat, that is, recalling that I still had to be attentive enough to change trains at Neusiedl.  It was enjoyable to roll past little villages, each with a steeple in the middle, and on my right, the reedy marshlands bordering the Neusiedler See, Central Europe's largest steppe lake.  (This lake only averages less than two meters in depth.)  I also saw several wind turbines — the same ones I had seen from the air when I flew into the Vienna-Schwechat International Airport the week before.  Long before there were any wind turbines or commercial jets, Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, was born near here.



Wind turbines are seen from the air near the northern shore of Neusiedler See.


At Neusiedl I changed trains with about six minutes to spare.  We rounded the lake — soon it would be called, in Hungarian, Fertö Tó— passing through Bad Neusiedlam See (I didn’t think it looked  so bad); Cols, and St-Andrä am Zicksee.  At Pamhagen, on the border with Hungary, it seemed that all of the Austrians jumped off the train on cue and a horde of Hungarian adolescent school children piled in.  What a sound! The new language sounded like bubbling water when compared to the German I had been hearing all week.  Very free, with much laughter.  I should note that Austrians seem to laugh a lot, too.

At one point, as we traveled through the Hungarian Puszta (the grassland biome on the Great Hungarian Plain), I saw some deer grazing.  Hungary has always seemed like such a richly endowed land to me.  The scene brought to mind the luxuriant, blossomy culture captured in Béla Bartók's 3 Village Songs.


Grazing deer seen from a train.


In more recent history, it was near here — on the shores of Neusiedler See — that an event took place which would eventually lead to the demise of communism in Eastern Europe.  On 19 August 1989, during a protest in Sopron, on the border between Austria and Hungary, over 600  East Germans escaped from the GDR to the West.  This was an important link in the chain of events that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989.

About ten minutes later the train stopped in the middle of what seemed like  nowhere (a very kind conductor, to whom I had spoken earlier, notified me that it was my stop) and the sign said Fertöszeplak-Fertöd, the two villages between which the stop is theoretically listed.

I jumped off the train with not a little hesitation.  What if this were the wrong stop? — there's nothing around.  And if it's the right stop, what am I doing here anyway?

I asked a Hungarian student who had gotten off the train with me — addressing him in German, since my Hungarian is even worse — “Sprechen sie Deutsch?”


“Wissen sie der weg nach der Schloss Esterházy?”

“Umm. . . (hesitating), es ist fern. . . .um . . . gerade [It’s far . . . just go straight],” pointing down a long, seemingly endless road.

“Wie viel kilometer? [How many kilometers?]” I then asked.

“Um, zwei [two],” he said.  He was heading off toward a different village in another direction.


The remote and seemingly isolated train stop between Fertöszeplak and Fertöd, Hungary.


OK.  I already knew I had a long way to walk; at least I now knew which direction in which to point myself.  I started slogging along, grateful that at least it was a little warmer this afternoon.  This morning had been almost freezing, and I don't know if it was because I was father south and in a different climate region or the day in general had just warmed up. 

At one point — I always follow the rule of asking two different people for directions, to buttress the odds — I stopped at a little shop run out of someone's home and asked about the “Esterházy-Kastély [the Hungarian term for the palace].”  They took counsel for a little while and finally uttered (in German, knowing how pathetic my Hungarian was), “Gerade [Go straight],” pointing the same way I had been traveling, which was a relief.  I continued in the same direction, and sure enough, after about two kilometers, the castle appeared out of nowhere in an otherwise ordinary-looking neighborhood.





Esterházy Palace, Esterháza, Hungary

 (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) {{PD}}


This was the place where Joseph Haydn spent the greater part of his career.  Located in rural Hungary (see map, below), Esterháza was built in the 1760s.  It became a favorite hangout for Prince Nikolaus I who, in addition to wearing a diamond-embroidered coat, was a lover of music. 

At the palace there were two music rooms as well as two theaters, one for opera and one for marionette puppet plays (Haydn would compose five puppet operas himself).  The orchestra, with 10-12 members at first, grew to 25.  In fact, often the members of the orchestra outnumbered those of the audience.


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


Haydn was responsible for not only composing a steady stream of musical works, but also directing the orchestra, playing chamber music (both for and with the Esterházys) and staging operas.  Haydn observed,  "As conductor of the orchestra, I could make experiments and observe effects, and was thus in a position to improve, alter, add, or omit as I pleased. It is true that I was cut off from the world, but I was safe from intrusion, and thus was I forced to become original."

Haydn was known to pray for ideas when composing.  In fact, he would dress in his best clothes before writing any music, saying,  “I'm going to commune with God and I must be appropriately dressed!”

Haydn began producing music from the moment he arrived at the Esterházy palaces.  During his first year he composed what is thought of today as a symphonic trilogy:  Symphony No. 6 in D major, “Le matin;” Symphony No. 7 in C major, “Le midi; “and Symphony No. 8 in G major, “Le soir” (all 1761).  These symphonies are more reminiscent of Baroque concerti grossi than those of his mature style.  No one is sure of the source of the nicknames later attached to these symphonies  — morning, noon, and evening.  However,  when one hears the slow introduction of the opening movement of “Le matin,” a sunrise may come to mind.  Curiously, Haydn recycled the flute theme from “Le soir” in his oratorio The Seasons (a descending arpeggiated chord, using the very same orchestration) when depicting a storm.

A few years later, Haydn composed his Symphony No. 22 in E-flat major, “The Philosopher” (1764).  This nickname seems to derive from the question and answer pattern between the horns and cor anglais, suggesting a debate.

A problem arose when Nikolaus I enjoyed himself so much at Esterháza that stays at the so-called summer palace had expanded to 10 months a year.  Haydn empathized with the plight of his musicians, whose families were left back in Eisenstadt.  That is when, in 1772, he composed his “Abschieds-Symphonie” (“Farewell Symphony,” Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor).  In the final Adagio, the instrumentalists stop playing, one by one, blowing out their candles and leaving in turn, with only two muted violins remaining at the end.  The Prince got the hint and made preparations to return to Eisenstadt soon after.

Haydn was not always confined  to one of the two Esterházy palaces in Eisenstadt and Hungary.  He made frequent trips to Vienna where he had met Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, possibly in 1784.  They would play  string quartets together, their admiration being mutual.  (It is thought that Haydn played first violin while  Mozart played viola).  Mozart’s set of six quartets, the "Haydn" quartets (K387, K421, K428, K458, K464 and K465), published in 1785, are dedicated to him.  Although Haydn is known as the "Father of the Symphony" and the "Father of the String Quartet," both composers really share this distinction.

A statue of Mozart in Vienna’s Burggarten


Haydn would later meet the young Ludwig van Beethoven in Vienna, briefly becoming his teacher.

Beethoven’s Streicher piano (with five pedals!) stands in front of a portrait of the composer at the Pasqualatihaus, Vienna, where Beethoven lived from 1804-1808 and 1810-1814.




There was yet another Esterházy palace within the empire, located in Pressburg  (Bratislava, Slovakia, today).  In the mid-1770s, Haydn performed with his orchestra at that palace as well.


Bratislava (formerly Pressburg), Slovakia, is seen today, where Haydn performed in the mid-1770s.  The uniforms of the guards at the presidential palace today are reminiscent of those worn during Haydn’s time.


The Bratislavsky Hrad [Bratislava Castle], which dates back to the thirteenth century, stands on a hill above the Danube River and overlooks the city of Bratislava.


By 1778 Haydn sold his house in Eisenstadt and moved into a house in the grounds of the Esterháza palace in Hungary.

In 1779 Haydn was given a new contract in which he would be allowed to sell his work to publishers.  The result was a spate of new string quartets (the six-quartet sets of Op. 33, 50, 54/55, and 64) and newly commissioned symphonies, including the “Paris Symphonies” (1785–1786) as well as the original orchestral version of The Seven Last Words of Christ (1786).


Early editions of Haydn’s piano sonatas and string quartets are on display at the Schloss Esterházy, Eisenstadt.




 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.

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