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Vienna: Exhibitions

There are several exhibitions in Vienna spotlighting the life and works of Joseph Haydn, one of the most prominent composers of the classical period. Some of these exhibitions are staged at original Haydn venues.

An absolute “must-see” for all Joseph Haydn fans visiting Vienna is his former residence, the Haydnhaus, which contains Haydn’s original rooms where he composed, amongst others, "The Creation" and "The Seasons". The exhibition’s main focus is on Haydn’s works, his lifestyle and old age. On the ground floor you can see city portraits of London and Paris from around 1800. The staircase, which is lined with paintings of illustrious people from the past, gives access to Haydn’s living quarters on the first floor, carefully renovated to their original state.

The third floor of Vienna’s unique sound museum, the Haus der Musik, has a permanent Haydn exhibition. A chronological table, a description of his daily routines and an interactive display illustrate Haydn’s life from farmer's child to the Emperor's palace. Another focus is on the relationship between Haydn and his employers, the Counts of Esterházy, and on Haydn’s life in London. Haydn’s last composition sketches, documents on his life and portraits of his students help make the master composer’s life more tangible. Also part of the exhibition: his parrot who could say Papa Haydn and sing the first lines of the "Emperor's Hymn".

The Collection of Historical Musical Instruments boasts a wax bust of Haydn, a work for flutes which Haydn contributed to, and a cembalo which might have been sent to Vienna for Haydn. Also on view are a fortepiano by Johann Schantz (Haydn’s preferred piano maker), a tangent piano and a violin by Bett. Especially interesting are the barytones (bowed string instruments belonging to the violin family, which were in regular use until the end of the 18th century), and whose unique sounds can be heard via the audio guide system. The exhibition also features some replicas of old instruments which visitors are welcome to play.

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