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Esterházy Palace © Roland Wimmer

In the Services of Esterházy

In 1761 Haydn made a lucky career move by entering the services of the Esterházys in Eisenstadt, one of the richest and most influential families within the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Prince Nikolaus I. Esterházy (1714-1790) succeeded his brother Paul Anton on 17th May 1762. He was to become Joseph Haydn's patron and employer for nearly 30 years. His epithet "The Magnificent" shows his delight in providing money to host extravagant entertainment and special celebrations. In his memoirs the poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote of the "Esterházy fairyland".

The Esterházy Family was one of the richest and most influential within the Austro-Hungarian empire. In many ways, Nikolaus I. was an outstanding patron and Joseph Haydn, who came from a simple background, was the third most highly paid official, after the property manager and the personal physician of Prince Esterházy. This financial ranking shows the important position Haydn had gained and the high esteem in which he was held: "my Prince was satisfied with all my work, I received applause (...) I was cut off from the world (...) and I was forced to become original".

After 1768 Haydn also became active at the summer palace Esterháza in Fertöd, in today's Hungary. During this time, he visited Vienna often. In 1785 he met Mozart in his apartment (today's Mozart House Vienna) and entered the same Freemason lodge (Zur wahren Eintracht – True Harmony).

For further information on the Esterházy properties, please visit:

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