Sunday, 31 May 2009

Joseph Haydn Lived Here

Two hundred years ago today,
on May 31st, 1809,

in a room behind one of these windows,
the great Austrian composer Joseph Haydn

died at age 77,
in the presence of his faithful servants,
"in a blessed and gentle manner".

Haydn passed away
"not quite three weeks
after the second French invasion
of Vienna.

"The attack
had utterly worn him out

"In the early morning of May 12,
Napoleon's troops were assembled close by
on the Mariahilf Line of Defence

"Haydn's servant reports:
'the bedroom door leapt right open
from these shots

and all the windows shook,
and our good Papa took fright at all this, ...


Photographed by Merisi
on May 30th, 2009,
at the Haydn House in Vienna,
Haydngasse 19.

The Haydn House
is open to visitors
Tues-Sun, 9am-6pm

Free entrance on Sundays

Clicking on the pictures
will lead to various
performances of works by
The Master.

NPR - National Public Radio - celebrates
"A Feast Of Haydn String Quartets"
at WGBH Boston:
Click here
to read Cathy Fuller's article about Haydn
and to listen to the music.

"Haydn's Last Years"
Edited by Werner Hanak-Lettner und
Alexandra Hönigmann-Tempelmayr
on behalf of the Wien Museum


  1. I hadn't exactly planned it, but somehow the thought that Haydn died exactly 200 years ago today, keeps me awake, at only 20 minutes to go to the exact anniversary time.

    The eerie thing is that I heard more than once what Haydn would have feared to be another of Napoleon's cannon balls hitting near his home. I imagine somewhere out there somebody is shooting fireworks, since the last time I checked Napoleon and his army where still stashed safely away in the history books!

    I had planned to visit what was Haydn's last home today, but had not known abot the live broadcast by the Austrian Radio starting right when I arrived there. The Vienna Philharmonic's solo cellist Franz Bartolomey was present, among other guests (the Philharmonic's solo violinist Christian Altenburger was supposed to be there too, but was still missing when I left - Napoleon?).

    It was a very moving experiene to listen to music coming through the open windows while walking through Haydn's garden in the rain.

    A pleasant Sunday to you all!

  2. What can I say? Absolutely superb, from photo to finish! You have a marvelous ability to weave narrative and graphic into a meaningful and artful whole!

    I enjoy your work thoroughly!

  3. Haydn has always been one of my favorites! And your photostory-tribute is truly a work of art!!! Your photos are so beautiful in their composition...and you weave your historical account so poetically through your photos...Just right in every way!!! Perfect! Love this so much; words fail me! ~Janine XO

  4. A superb post, Merisi, with that nice touch of history and music unfolding before us as we enjoy the photographs taken at just the correct angle to centre the details. Vienna is place of wonderful souls.

  5. What beautiful photographs, rich in musical history, a perfect reflection of your words. The live music must have been so transporting. A moving tribute, absolutely.

  6. Vienna has been my dream city to be able to experience for years and years. You've made the longing more bountiful. Absoutely wonderful post! -- To me there is a difference in seeing a place and 'experiencing' a place. You do well with providing the experience!

  7. Thanks for bringing us on the tour. It's a lovely place. It must of been wonderful to hear the live music.

  8. Lovely photos, words, and music. I really enjoyed how you put it all together.

  9. I second Jacob and the others..
    A perfect post from start to finish - evocative...

  10. Wow. What a fabulous story. And the upon windows, with flowers between. I am hearing Haydn in my head right now, layered with more meaning and emotion and immediacy than before. I love when history becomes intimacy, for a moment. Thank you.

  11. That's really neat to see the flowers through those panes like that.

  12. What a beautifully conceived tribute.

  13. Crisp, clear, beautiful photographs and a great tribte to the man himself.

  14. Superb. I remember learning a litle piece on piano when I was a child - part of a Haydn piece. It had lyrics

    Papa Haydn's dead and gone, But his music linger on...

    And his memory in your hands.

  15. Kurwenal31 May, 2009

    Heart-melting, and so so sweet. Sitting here with the Nelson Mass playing on my CD, such a treat to see the Haydn-Haus in a special Merisi essay.

    I so love this home, such a contrast to the Eisenstadt palace he had known for most of his life. Here is the real Haydn.

    Those glorious flowers, in this series of pictures is a wonderful tribute to Papa Haydn.

    When the Mass is over I will come back to investigate the musical links.
    Thanks !

  16. Vienna is truly a musical and magical place! I enjoyed the many pieces you chose (and was surprised to see that one of the conductors was Ozawa Seiji from Japan).

    I agree with the comments above, you have an extraordinary talent!

  17. Merisi, I do love your way of bringing history to life. It is after all the little things that make up life....and death.
    Beautiful photos as always.

  18. Dear, dear Papa. He was so torn between his love for London and Vienna. Had he stayed in London he would have missed the horrors that Vienna experienced with Napoleon, but had he not returned to Vienna, he would never have forgiven himself for not being there during the invasion.

    Thank you for this beautiful dedication in pictures.

  19. What a perfect series! Windows, like doors, are magical and evocative and you have orchestrated a lovely symphony of words, music, and pictures. Brava!

  20. Hello Merisi. Haydn and you have given me such a magnificent treat on Sunday morning. After a difficult week, it has been absolutely reassuring to see and hear what beauty can be found.

    Many thanks. xo

  21. Aaaah, I love Hayden. These open-window images with the beautiful geraniums tumbling out are like music emanating from those windows. Lovely.

  22. Merisi...from one Heaven to Another! Thank you for this wonderful tour complete with stunning photos!

  23. Really a great work, Merisi!

  24. Parthenope31 May, 2009

    Merisi, I was there too on Saturday. A wonderful experience to share the anniversary with other Haydn lovers. And now I come home to your photographs, which enable me to relive the day. Thank you.
    P.S. Did you see the dancers ?

  25. Thank you all for your lovely comments! I truly appreciate your kind and generous words of support! Barbara Martin:
    "Vienna is place of wonderful souls."
    Terrible things have happened in this city, still, it has also been blessed with many good souls who have woven a bulwark of enduring humanity and art over this place.

    I agree, wherever I turned in and around the house, it reflected what I had learned about Haydn the human being. It must have felt like a place of refuge and comfort, after almost three decades as conductor at the E. palace, where he was treated not as an equal but like just another servant.

    The letter Haydn wrote on September 17, 1791, to Maria Anna von Genzinger could break one's heart, thinking how such a great man had to live so long in servitude:

    "... how sweet is the taste of a certain freedom, I had a good Prince, yet had to depend at times on base soulds, I sighed for redemption, now I have it to some extent ..." *He must have written that letter shortly after the Prince died and the Prince's heir, in view of the massive budget deficit he inherited, fired his father's orchestra, thus setting Haydn finally free to persue a life after his own fashion, first in Vienna, then on to London!

    (K., you must know so much more about Haydn than I do! I let the the last paragraph stand for the benefit of other gentle readers who may want to know more about the circumstances which compelled Haydn to write the letter from which I quoted. Any correction of addition is welcome!)

    *) The translation of the quote is taken from the exhibition catalogue.

  26. Penelope,
    I was thinking of you, whether you would go there. ;-)

    It was raining so hard, I could not stop thinking that it was fitting the day's solemn remembrance. I left when the Philharmonic's cellist was being interviewed. Did the violinist arrive, after all?

  27. Parthenope01 June, 2009

    If the violinist I arrived I missed him. We heard a piano sonata and some young musicians. Then in the afternoon a string trio. Two actors,from, I think, the National Theatre, were there in 18th century costume, and demonstrated some of the dances of the time, with all the flirtatious gestures and fluttering of fans. I could e-mail a photograph if you would like to see it. P

  28. Parthenope, that must have been something, to hear a sonata in those small yet elegant rooms.

    Merisi: your quoted letter speaks for itself. It is sad that Haydn had such a short spell of good health in this house. His manservant speaks of him variously, either sitting upright in full rich garb, joyfully receiving guests like Cherubini (to whom he inscribed and gave the manuscript of the Drumroll symphony) and at other times,playing the National Anthem over and over,lost in it.

    The saddest item in the museum,if you saw it, is the visting card of old Haydn "worn out,no notes left"
    He was not given too much to self-regard,but he felt his years.

    Of all the composer homes in Wien,I still think that this is the miracle one to have survived. The displays are modest and simple, so it feels like a home still.

    Thanks so much for sharing this.


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