Ever since I researched the story of Joseph Haydn’s Kleinesorgelmesse which I played for the Hawaii Vocal Masterworks Festival a couple of weeks ago, I was bound and determined to seek out the town of Eisenstadt, especially since I was going to be in Vienna, 26 miles or 42 kilometers away.Today my GoAhead tour activity ended about noon in the old town section of Vienna, so I took a subway ride to the Hauptbahnof (main train station) where I transferred to the train for Eisenstadt, which took about an hour and twenty minutes, including stops.
It was miraculous that I found the right train platform because nowhere on my ticket or on the departure board was my destination listed.
From there I took a taxi directly to the Bergkirche, or “hill church,” which was built by Prince Esterhazy in the early 18th century. It was here that Joseph Haydn worked for the Esterhazy family whose palace was just a short walk away. Apparently several of Haydn’s masses made their premieres in the Bergkirche.You might know that my reason for finding this church was two-fold: one was to seek out Haydn’s tomb, which is in a side chapel of the church. Haydn’s body (without his head!) was buried here in 1932—his skull was stolen shortly after he died by gravediggers who wanted to study the anatomy of his brain! It has now been returned to this mausoleum with the rest of Haydn’s body. For further information, check out Haydn’s head.
The other reason for looking for this church was that I have signed up for the Hawaii Masterworks tour here next summer and supposedly we will be singing a concert in this very church! I did take a picture of the organ, built in the 18th century by Gottfried Malleck and now restored to its original state. The original console, though, is in the Haydn museum. While walking around Eisenstadt, I also came upon a statue of composer and pianist, Franz Liszt.
I was also thrilled to find the Hospital Church where Haydn premiered the Kleinesorgelmesse which I played a couple of weeks ago. You may remember it is on the grounds of the Brothers of Mercy.
After walking around for awhile, I stopped at a nearby cafe to get something to eat. It was a case of not knowing what I was ordering since the menu was all in German and the only words I recognized were a reference to a kind of meat (I guessed) and potatoes. No one spoke English in the cafe. I was so pleased that I was able to order, ask for a drink and then a refill, then ask for the check—all within the confines of my 50-word German vocabulary!
I was also proud of myself for figuring out how to get on subway and train, and back again, and not getting lost!