In March 1808, the old master Joseph Haydn
was carried in his chair to his last public appearance at the assembly hall of the Old University (today's Austrian Academy of Sciences
), where he attended the performance of his “Creation.” Another of the illustrious guests: Ludwig van Beethoven.
On 31st May 1809, at the age of 77, he died peacefully in the Haydnhaus
, where he was taken care of for many years by a housekeeper and by his secretary Johann Elssler, father of the famous dancer Fanny Elssler. In his old age, it is said, he intoned daily the melody of his "Emperor's Hymn". Napoleon, commander of the troops occupying Vienna, showed his admiration for the composer. When Haydn was fading, Napoleon posted an honorary guard in front of his house.
Haydn was first laid to rest in Vienna
at the Hundsturm Cemetery (today’s Haydn Park in 1012 Vienna, Gaudenzdorfer Gürtel). Nowadays only a memorial plaque with the (translated) inscription "I will not die completely" can be found here.
Followers of the science of phrenology which was then in fashion stole Haydn’s skull. After changing owners several times the skull was finally retreived and reached the Bergkirche (Church of Joseph Haydn) in Eisenstadt
, where Haydn’s remains have rested since 1820.