Eszterháza


Eszterháza

Eszterháza is a palace built in Fertőd, Hungary by Prince Nikolaus Esterházy. Sometimes called the "Hungarian Versailles," it is Hungary's grandest Rococo monument.

History

Construction of the palace probably began in 1762, when Prince Nikolaus succeeded his brother Paul Anton. [Robbins Landon and Jones 1988, 95] . Before he became Prince, Nikolaus was accustomed to spending much of his time at a hunting lodge called Süttör, built in the same location around 1720 with a design by Anton Erhard Matinelli. The hunting lodge was used as nucleus around which Esterháza was built. [Robbins Landon and Jones 1988, 95] The first architect to work on the project was Johann Ferdinand Mödlhammer, succeeded in 1765 by Melchior Hefele. [Robbins Landon and Jones 1988, 95] While the palace is often compared to Versailles, which the Prince had visited in 1767, H. C. Robbins Landon claims that a more direct influence can be found in "Austrian prototypes, particularly Schönbrunn Castle in Vienna."

The palace cost the Prince the sum of 13 million gulden, a figure that Robbins Landon terms "astronomical".

Eszterháza was first inhabited in 1766, but construction continued for many years. The opera house was completed in 1768 (the first performance was of Joseph Haydn's opera Lo speziale), the marionette theater in 1773. The fountain in front of the palace was not completed until 1784, at which point the Prince considered his project complete. [Source for this paragraph: Robbins Landon and Jones 1988, 95]

Location

The palace was built near the south shore of the Neusiedler See, on swampy land, a health hazard at the time. Robbins Landon notes that "it was a particularly eccentric idea on the part of Prince Nicolaus to chose it as the site for a large castle. Possibly the castle's existence was to prove 'mind over matter'. [Robbins Landon and Jones 1988, 95]

Rooms

The palace has 126 rooms. Of particular note is the Banquet Room which has on its ceiling a painting of Apollo in his Chariot. The large library holds almost 22,000 volumes and is graced with the letter 'E', standing for the family surname. The largest room is the grotto-like Sala Terrana which was inspired by the then fashionable Italianate style. On the ceiling are dancing Angels who hold wreathes of flowers in the shape of an 'E'.

Haydn at Eszterháza

During its first quarter century, the palace was the primary home of the celebrated composer Joseph Haydn, who wrote the majority of his symphonies for the Prince's orchestra. Starting in 1768, the theater was a major venue for opera, often with more than a hundred performances per year. [Webster 2001]

The palace was geographically isolated, a factor which led to loneliness and tedium among the musicians. This is seen in some of Haydn's letters, as well as in the famous tale of the Farewell Symphony.

Picture gallery

Eszterházy Treasure



Notes

Books

*Robbins Landon, H. C. and David Wyn Jones (1988) "Haydn: His Life and Music". Thames and Hudson.
*Webster, James (2001) "Joseph Haydn," article in the New Grove.

ee also

*House of Esterházy
*Schloss Esterházy

External links


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