Prince Miklós/Nicolas Esterházy (1714-90) attended the coronation of Joseph II in Frankfurt in the capacity of Bohemian ambassador, while Empress Maria Theresa, one of the electors of the Holy Roman Empire, was there as Queen of Bohemia. This honour was due to the fact that the prince came from a family which had always been loyal to the Habsburg dynasty, and Prince Nicolas belonged to the richest Hungarian aristocracy. His elder brother, Prince Paul Anton, who had married an Italian, was ambassador in Naples. On his return from his post, he began the construction of an opera-house in Eisenstadt/Kismarton, in the centre of his estate. He engaged Joseph Haydn as the conductor of the orchestra in 1761, and the musician served the Esterházy family for twenty seven years. The successor of Paul Anton as head of the household was his younger brother, Prince Nicolas, who built a splendid castle in Eszterháza (Fertőd) in the French rococo style, with an opera-house for four hundred spectators and with a puppet-show. Famous scene painters worked there. The companies engaged by the prince also played in Vienna and in the monarch’s residential castles at Laxenburg and Schönbrunn. They presented, among others, some of Shakespeare’s and Goethe’s dramas. Among the pieces of music, only comic operas (opera bouffe) were presented until 1783, but later also serious operas. The most famous foreign guests of Prince Nicolas were Prince Louis René de Rohan, the French ambassador in Vienna, Archduke Ferdinand Habsburg, governor of Lombardy with his wife, and Empress Maria Theresa itself. These visits provided the opportunity for particularly sumptuous celebrations.
Joseph Haydn und Europa
Universität ELTE, Budapest
Nikolaus II. Esterházy, der ‘prachtliebende’ (1714-1790) als Kunstmäzen