Around 1728 the reed thatched farm house was built by Mathias Haydn, a coach builder and later a market judge (comparable to today´s mayor). In this place his wife Maria (maiden name Koller) , who was a cook in the service the Count Harrach, gave birth to 12 children, only six of whom grew up to reach an adult age. Their sons Joseph, born on March 31st, 1732 and Michael, born on September 14th, 1737 however should reach world wide fame. Joseph became director of music in the service of Prince Esterhazy and was highly appreciated and admired all over Europe already at his lifetime. His brother Michael was in the service of the prince archbishop of Salzburg and worked there as a composer and concert master. Although Joseph Haydn left his home village already at the age of six he was strongly attached to his birthplace throughout his lifetime. When he returned from his highly successful concert tour to England in 1795 he visited Rohrau and it is handed down that he knelt at the door of his house to kiss the threshold.

At Haydn´s time the property only consisted of the birthroom, the kitchen, the living room and a small sideroom. Originally there was a rectangular extension at the back containing the forge and the coach building workshops.

Already in 1763 after the death of Haydn´s parents the house was passed on into different non family possessions. Shortly after Joseph Haydn´s death on May 31st, 1809 an engraving attributed to Friedrich Berndt was published depicting the birthplace. According to tradition this sheet was highly estimated by Ludwig van Beethoven, who even was recorded to have held it in his hands on his deathbed. The eastern section of the house added already before 1820 was replaced by a new stable building after 1900.

 

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In 1841 the board “Zum Haydn” was attached to the frontside of the building, demonstrating that even then this house was a place of pilgrimage for music -lovers

In 1877 the male choral society “Männergesangsverein Arion” – Johann Strauß was a prominent member- unveiled the first memorial board on the outer façade of the house . Today it is placed on the arcade wall in the court. The big fire of 1899 destroyed the property for a great part, only the big living room remained original. The rest of the house however was restored again by 1909.

The provincial government of Lower Austria acquired the property in 1958 and consequently installed a museum in 1959 commemorating the 150th anniversary of Joseph Haydn´s death. To the south of the court a pergola was added thus conveying a homely unified atmosphere. The above mentioned east wing, built around 1820, was used for concerts and documentations until autumn 2016

 

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In the year 1982 , on the occasion of Joseph Haydn´s 250th birthday, the house was completely renovated, the exhibition rooms were rearranged with a special focus on the homeliness of the whole site. The birth room , the reconstructed kitchen with the old oven and the living room were furnished with original pieces of furniture dating back to Haydn´s time , and thus a romantic historicizing insight into the private living conditions of the composer was offered. In 2003 the original hammer piano (Comp. Walter, Vienna) on which Joseph Haydn himself was said to ham played was restored. For quite a few years the atmospheric court yard with its arcades has been integrated into the museum, offering an authentic frame to open air concerts and numerous cultural events focusing on the Haydn brothers´ musical works . Initiated by the state of Lower Austria the museum is being renovated by the following project team between Oct. 1st 2016 and September 2017, including the federal monuments office and the most recent scientific criteria. 

  • Department for Cultural Affairs of the state of Lower Austria / head of department Mag Hermann Dikowitsch
  • Department LAD3 – building management
  • Dr. Werner Hanak-Lettner – curator
  • Mag. Stephan Umdasch – design and project management

DATE OF REOPENING:
SEPTEMBER 14th, 2017

See some pictures of the conversion

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