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The Esterhazy Family--Haydn's Agreement--An "Upper Servant"?-- Dependence in the
Order of Nature--Material and Artistic Advantages of the Esterhazy Appointment--Some
Disadvantages-- Capellmeister Werner--A Posthumous Tribute--Esterhazy "The
Magnificent"--Compositions for Baryton--A Reproval--Operettas and other Occasional
Works--First Symphonies.
The Esterhazy Family
As Haydn served the Esterhazys uninterruptedly for the long period of thirty years, a
word or two about this distinguished family will not be out of place. At the present time
the Esterhazy estates include twenty-nine lordships, with twenty-one castles, sixty market
towns, and 414 villages in Hungary, besides lordships in Lower Austria and a county in
Bavaria. This alone will give some idea of the power and importance of the house to
which Haydn was attached. The family was divided into three main branches, but it is
with the Frakno or Forchtenstein line that we are more immediately concerned. Count
Paul Esterhazy of Frakno (1635-1713) served in the Austrian army with such distinction
as to gain a field-marshal's baton at the age of thirty. He was the first prince of the name,
having been ennobled in 1687 for his successes against the Turks and his support of the
House of Hapsburg. He was a musical amateur and a performer of some ability, and it
was to him that the family owed the existence of the Esterhazy private chapel, with its
solo singers, its chorus, and its orchestra. Indeed, it was this prince who, in 1683, built the
splendid Palace of Eisenstadt, at the foot of the Leitha mountains, in Hungary, where
Haydn was to spend so many and such momentous years.
When Prince Paul died in 1713, he was succeeded by his son, Joseph Anton, who
acquired "enormous wealth," and raised the Esterhazy family to "the height of its glory."
This nobleman's son, Paul Anton, was the reigning prince when Haydn was called to
Eisenstadt in 1761. He was a man of fifty, and had already a brilliant career behind him.
Twice in the course of the Seven Years' War he had "equipped and maintained during a
whole campaign a complete regiment of hussars for the service of his royal mistress,"
and, like his distinguished ancestor, he had been elevated to the dignity of field-marshal.
He was passionately devoted to the fine arts, more particularly to music, and played the
violin with eminent skill. Under his reign the musical establishment at Eisenstadt enjoyed
a prosperity unknown at any other period of its history.
Haydn's Agreement
As there will be something to say about the terms and nature of Haydn's engagement with
Prince Paul Anton, it may be well to quote the text of the agreement which he was
required to sign. It was in these terms: