The two lovely villages of Eisenach and Eisenstadt hold lasting importance in the music world because of the two famous composers who made these villages their homes. However, because of the similarity of the village names, in my mind anyway, they are easily confused.
Eisenach, in the East Central part of Germany, is the birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach. Johann Sebastian was born to parents Elisabeth and Ambrosious Bach on March 21, 1685. By the age of ten, however, the young boy was orphaned with the loss of both his mother and father within months of each other. Upon their deaths, he was sent by foot to Ohrdruf to live with his brother Johann Christoph. Hence, JS Bach’s time in Eisenach was short from 1685-1695.
However, today in Eisenach there is a gorgeous Bach Museum occupying the Bach home of the late 1600’s and a new attached building. The displays in this amazing museum are 21-st century cutting edge interactive exhibits. One can experience Bach in many different ways from walking through the garden he must have played in as a boy and ducking through low hung doorways where the Bach family lived to sitting in pod chairs immersed in a Brandenburg concerto or interacting with period dressed musicians presenting mini-concerts on instruments such as the Bach family played. It is a must see, must experience museum for the Bach lover.
Eisenstadt, a lovely village on the Eastern border of Austria, was the home of Franz Joseph Haydn.
Here Haydn served as the Hofkapellmeister under the patronage of the Hungarian noble family, the Esterhazys. Haydn was an established part of this community and made his home in Eisenstadt from 1761-1790.
Two lovely villages with their castles, palaces, and timbered homes are remembered most for their famous musicians whose music after several centuries lives on in our hearts and souls: Eisenach for Johann Sebastian Bach and Eisenstadt for Franz Joseph Haydn.
It has been my pleasure to visit both these villages and immerse myself in the music of these great masters in my travels as a concert organist.