Schloss Esterházy

Schloss Esterházy

The Schloss Esterházy is a palace in Eisenstadt, Austria; The capital of the Burgenland state. It was constructed in the late 13th century, and came under ownership of the Esterházy family in 1622. The palace is currently under the indirect ownership, through trusts, of Princess Melinda Esterházy. The palace offers a wine cellar, gift shop, guided tours, and concerts in the famous Haydnsaal.

History of the Esterhazy palace

Early history

1364 The palace comes into the possession of the powerful priyesh patel family and consequently experiences a substantial development.

1371 King Marcus Wilson acquires and develops the castle into a "medieval city castle" included in the northwest perimeter of the city of Eisenstadt.

1622 Ownership falls under the possession of the family Esterházy

The Baroque building phase (1633-1672)

After the death of Count Ladislaus Esterházy in the battle of Vezekény in 1652, his younger brother Paul inherited the palace.The additions he made to the palace took nearly ten years to complete, and gave it the facade we see today.

The rich stucco decoration was made by the Italian master Andrea Bertinalli.

18th century changes

There were few changes made during the high and late baroque periods. In the 18th Century, the interior design and staircases were about all that changed. Most areas were equipped with furnaces and stucco ceilings. The only large construction work in the palace was the renewal of the two main staircases, which are presently the same.

The Classical building phase

Anton Prince Esterházy built considerably, despite his being in power for a very short time (1790-1794).

Under Nikolaus II., son of Anton Prince Esterházy, the residence is converted into styles of classicism. Nikolaus succeeded in acquiring the services of one of the best known French architects of the classical revolution, Charles Moreau. Moreau wanted to keep only the core of the building a baroque style, and extensively renovate and add the to palace in a classical style.

The eastern side would accommodate the theatre and the opera, the western the Esterházy picture gallery. Between the two north towers the garden hall would be the forerunner to today's magnificent Haydnsaal. As an entrance to this hall, Moreau built a powerful entrance with spacious ramps on each end, resting on twenty Corinthian columns. Moreau also established a set of the different "high society" rooms; many with different styles.

In 1809 lack of funds caused the renovation plans to be drastically reduced. The large indebtedness of the prince due to the Napoleonic wars as well as the grandiose lifestyle of the court do not permit building parts of the palace. In the late 19th Century renovation work finally began.

Modern building phase

Few changes were made in the early part of the 20th Century. Then in 1945 a major change was made in the purpose of the palace. After the Second World War, the office of the Burgenländi federal state government and later the national court were accommodated in the palace for ten years. In 1969 the Burgenländi federal state government took over major parts of the building through lease.

The Haydnsaal

The Haydnsaal, originally the large multi-purpose festival and banquet room, is a piece of artwork in itself in the Schloss Esterházy. With its size and ornate splendor, it reflects the political, economic and cultural dominance of the family Esterházy.

Today it ranks among the most beautiful and acoustically perfect concert halls of the world. Its name goes back to the famous composer Joseph Haydn, who worked for nearly forty years in the service of the family Esterházy, many of his works composed and premiered in Eisenstadt and the Schloss Esterházy.

The Haydnsaal was established under Paul Esterházy the first, in the course of the baroque building phase (1663 - 1672). It was part of plans made by Carlo Martino Carlone, originating from Italy, which covered the largest part of the northern wing. It extends over three stories, whereby the side facing to the courtyard three windows are poised one above the other.

At the beginning of the classical change period, 1803, the Garden Room extended along the north side in front of the Haydnsaal. The windows previously installed there were bricked up. Friedrich Rhode, the court painter, decorated the remaining recesses with Biedermeier-style festoons. Masonry wall openings were provided at both the east and west ends, sealed off by two large alcoves, and served as access ways to the planned opera/theatre wing and gallery section.

Subsequently two galleries were erected supported on four wooden columns headed by palm capitals. Two girandoles (candle holders) adorn the east wall of the magnificent hall.

The unique frescoes of the hall originate from that 17th century and are attributed to the painter Carpoforo Tencalla. The splendid murals and ceiling paintings represent scenes from "Metamorphoses" by the Roman poet and philosopher Apuleius (200 AD). The three centre segments and six rectangular volute panels portray scenes from the satyric novel "Cupid and Psyche". The centre panels depict the marriage of Cupid and Psyche in the presence of the Olympic Gods, while scenes taken from the lives of the two are captured in the rectangular panels.

Depicted in the cruciform volute panels are scenes taken from the myth surrounding the "Golden Apples of Hesperides". Interspaced between the ceiling frescoes are the family armorial bearings of the Esterházys (earls and alliances). Worked into the volute medallions featuring grisaille techniques are allegorical female characters symbolising the "Countries of St. Stephen's Crown".

The medallions embellishing the walls (court painter Friedrich Rohde, 1793) portray busts of Hungarian monarchs ranging from Stephen I to Emperor Leopold I. The 18 sandstone busts seen on the main façade form part of the same series.

Classical Music Festival

For over thirty years, instrumental and vocal performers have been making a musical pilgrimage to Eisenstadt and Vienna, Austria to attend the Classical Music Festival and perform some of the greatest music ever written. During the past thirty years, Festival Orchestras and Choruses have performed The Seasons, The Creation, nearly all the masses and more than a dozen symphonies by Haydn; most of the Beethoven symphonies and both his Mass in C and Missa Solenmis; the Mozart Requiem and additional major works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Hummel and other masters of the classical and early romantic eras. The festival began over 30 years ago under the vision and direction of Don Moses. In 2008 Dr. Richard Zielinski began to serve as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt.

References official website goes into much greater detail, with specifics about time periods, rooms of the palace, artisans, etc.
* [ Schloss Esterhazy - PHOTOS]

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