Few small country towns have such an important place in the history of music as Eisenstadt; and few festivals other than the Haydntage offer the privilege of hearing music in the hall where it was first performed.
Eisenstadt is now in the Burgenland, the small province comprising the plain south-east of Vienna which before 1919 was part of Hungary. Dominating the townscape is a vast mansion, the principal seat of the Esterházy, the richest and most powerful noble family in Habsburg Hungary. Successive princes, but especially Nicholas (1762–90), were lovers of music who maintained a choir, orchestra and Kapellmeister whose duty it was to conduct and compose. For over forty years their Kapellmeister was Joseph Haydn.
The wooden floor that Haydn insisted be laid on the marble original to improve the acoustics is still in the Great Hall of Schloss Esterházy; here the orchestral concerts and operas of the festival take place. Further associations with the composer extend into the town of Eisenstadt and the countryside around.
Eisenstadt. Fly at c. 9.15am from London Heathrow to Vienna (Austrian Airlines). Drive to Eisenstadt.
Eisenstadt. The historic centre of Eisenstadt has changed little since Haydn’s day. Visit the Haydn Museum in the house he bought after his release from service with the Esterházy family, and see the state apartments of the Baroque and Neo-Classical Schloss Esterházy. Evening concert at Schloss Esterházy, Haydnsaal with the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Philharmonic, Nicolas Altstaedt (conductor): Beethoven, Symphony No.1 in C, Op.21; Shostakovich, Cello Concerto No.1 in E flat, Op.107; Haydn, Symphony No.88 in G, Hob I:88.
Eisenstadt. Free day with the option of joining a tour of 18th-century organs in Eisenstadt in the morning. Evening concert in the Haydnsaal with the Quartett van Kuijk, Vassiléna Sérafimova (percussion): Haydn, String Quartet Hob III:38 ‘Der Scherz’; Attahir, ‘Uraufführung’; Janáček, String Quartet No.1 ‘Kreutzersonate’.
Eisenstadt, Sopron, Fertöd. Drive into Hungary to Sopron, to see the Gothic Goat Church, the 17th-century fire tower and the Storno collection of 19th century art and furniture in Sopron. Continue to Eszterházá, the estate housing the magnificent Rococo country house of the Esterházy princes, where Haydn spent many long summers. Visit the recently restored princely apartments and park. Evening concert with the Vienna ORF Radio-symphony orchestra, Cornelius Meister (conductor), Andreas Ottensamer (clarinet): Hefti, ‘Moments Lucides’; Stamitz, Clarinet Concerto No.7 in E flat; Beethoven, Symphony No.3 in E flat, Op.55 ‘Eroica’.
Eisenstadt, Vienna. En route to Vienna, stop at Rohrau to visit Haydn’s birthplace. Morning visits to the house in Gumpendorf, Vienna where Haydn spent the last twelve years of his life. Visit also the Figarohaus where Mozart resided between 1784–87. There is the option to join a guided walk. The afternoon is free, maybe to visit the excellent art collection at the Kunsthistoriches Museum, or to enjoy the streets, squares and churches in the historic centre.
Eisenstadt. Morning concert with the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra, Alexander Lonquich (conductor and piano): Schumann, overtures to ‘Hermann und Dorothea’, Op.136; Mozart, Piano Concerto in C, K.503; Haydn, Symphony No.92 in G, Hob I: 92 ‘Oxford Symphony’. After lunch drive to Vienna airport. Fly to Heathrow arriving c. 6.45pm.
Two sharing: £2,460 or £2,240 without flights. Single occupancy: £2,560 or £2,340 without flights.
Air travel (economy class) on scheduled Austrian Airlines flights (Airbus A320); coach travel for airport transfers and excursions; accommodation as described below; breakfasts, 2 lunches and 3 dinners with wine; admissions; tips for restaurant staff, drivers and guides; state and airport taxes; the services of the lecturer.
Hotel Burgenland, Eisenstadt: a functional but comfortable 4-star hotel, located in the heart of the old town, c. 10 minutes on foot from Schloss Esterházy.
Top category tickets for 4 performances are included, costing c. £310.
There is a reasonable amount of walking each day, including to and from the concert venue. Average distance by coach per day: 37 miles.
Between 10 and 22 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCDO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting.
'Very very good…if I were to write more they would only be superlatives.'
'Although intensive in its pace, this tour offered the most specially presented music of a great European genius.'