Haydn And Eszterhaza Essay Research Paper

Haydn And Eszterhaza Essay, Research Paper

“Not only did I have the encouragement of constant approval, but as the conductor of the orchestra I could experiment, find out what made a good effect and what weakened it, so I was free to alter, improve, add or omit and be as bold as I pleased. Cut off from the rest of the world I had no one to bother me and I was forced to become original.” The above quote was said by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809) during the later years of his life and it refers to the time he spent in Esterhaza. Haydn was, and still is, considered one of the most famous composers of the classical era. The large amount of compositions that he created, and his many contributions to the classical style, has made Haydn one of the most influential and studied composers of the millennium. As mentioned in the introductory quote, Haydn contributed a large amount of his personal success to the time he spent in the palace of Eszterhaza, A palace of the Esterhazy family. By analysing the time period that Haydn had spent working for the Esterhazy family, this essay will demonstrate how important these years were to the development of his musical abilities. The reason why this time period has been chosen was that these were the years right before Haydn began to grow in popularity outside the realm of the palace.

Haydn’s musical career had started when he moved to Vienna, from his rural peasant village, and became a choirboy at the St. Stephen’s Cathedral. In 1761 Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy of Vienna hired Haydn, and this was when his relationship with the Esterhazy family had begun. At this point in his career Haydn had served as the assistant musical director for the Prince, as he worked under a man by the name of Werner. During this time Haydn had composed a few symphonies but he was not given much room to grow as he was seen as nothing less than a servant.

In the years to come Haydn’s situation would change dramatically due to a number of major developments that were going on around him. In 1762 Prince Paul Anton had died and his brother Prince Nicolaus succeeded him. “Nicolaus was an extremely cultured man, passionately interested in science, literature and music. People called him ‘the Magnificent’ for the splendour in which he lived” It would be under Haydn’s service to Nicolaus that his musical art would grow and result in the creation of many of his masterpieces.

During the year 1766 two very significant developments had occurred that contributed to the changing of Haydn’s situation. One of them being that Werner, the head music director for Prince Nicolaus, had died and Haydn succeeded his post. With the death of Werner, Haydn now had direct control over all aspects of the music created for the Prince. The control that Haydn had over his music during this time period allowed him to flourish as a composer.

The second major development was the creation of the palace of Eszterhaza. Prior to Eszterhaza Nicolaus had lived in Vienna in a palace called Eisenstadt. Prince Nicolaus was not fond of Vienna or Eisenstadt and that is why he created the ‘dream palace’ called Eszterhaza. “A hunting lodge at Eszterhaza, deep in the Hungarian marshes and miles from anywhere, had become a great palace, second only, people said, to the French King’s palace at Versailles.” In 1766 the Prince, whom Haydn accompanied, moved into the palace. The palace was equipped with everything that a musician of the classical era would need to allow his art to grow. Haydn had at his disposal a large number of talented musicians to play his pieces; there was also a concert hall, opera house and a marionette theatre where his pieces could be performed. The control that Haydn had over the music of the palace and the resources he had at his dispense at Eszterhaza allowed him to grow as a composer.

One of the most major ways in which the palace of Eszterhaza contributed to the development of Haydn’s musical ability was the isolation that the palace created. As mentioned earlier the Prince was not very fond of Vienna and, therefor, he seldom went back. In fact, the Prince would stay and keep all of his staff at Eszterhaza for approximately ten of the twelve months of the year. Haydn himself did not so much enjoy the isolation as he was separated from friends and family and was prevented from forming musical friends. During the later years of his life, Haydn had commented that during the Eszterhaza years he was able to develop his own personal style. Without having any outside influences Haydn’s music became very emotional and truly reflected his own inner personal being. “Haydn’s new emotionalism and musical strength, though he was cut off from the world, were something he shared with the other, lesser composers of the period, but in his music they led to more variety, more excitement and more intensity of feeling than his contemporaries could achieve.”

During the period that is being analysed Haydn experimented with different types of music in order to continually please the Prince. Haydn had created a number of symphonies in which he would often change the composition of the orchestra using many different instruments. He also created a large amount of string quartets, piano sonata’s and church music. Haydn’s ability to continually experiment with musical style in order to produce an original sound during this period contributed greatly to the development of his musical talents.

During the 1770’s Prince Nicolaus began lift some of the restrictions that he had on Haydn’s music and allowed him to sell it to other people. This led Haydn to becoming a very popular composer as he gained a lot of success through his work. In the years that followed his stay at Eszterhaza Haydn had created a significant amount of works that he will always be remembered for. After examining the evidence given in this paper it becomes evident that Haydn’s time with Prince Nicolaus contributed greatly to the development of his musical style and his success afterwards.


Landon, H.C. Robbins, Haydn, (New York: Praeger Publishers) 1972.

Landon, H.C. Robbins, Haydn, His Life and Music, (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press) 1988.

Temperley, Nicholas, Haydn, The Creation, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 1991


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