Gregor Joseph Werner was Kapellmeister of the chamber ensemble at the court of the Esterházy princes from 1728 to 1766. He not only preceded Joseph Haydn but also quietly paved the way for him. Nevertheless, when it comes to evaluating Werner’s biography and appreciating his compositions, his life and oeuvre are overshadowed by Haydn’s to this day - and this despite the fact that more than 400 of Werner’s works have survived. There is no known picture of him, pieces of information on his life have often been found quite by chance. When assembled like a mosaic they shed light on the work of a man who modestly and devoutly, but also humorously, inventively and creatively influenced musical life under one princess and two princes of the House of Esterházy.
The Esterházy Private Foundation is holding this exhibition on the ‘faceless genius‘ Gregor Joseph Werner to mark the 250th anniversary of his death. The special exhibition, embedded in ‘Haydn explosive‘, shows in 14 ‘stations‘ documents, which have not been published before, on Werner’s creative life and work at the Esterházy court over a period of almost four decades.
Highlights of the exhibition are the only surviving autograph of an oratorio by Werner (‘Deborah‘, 1760) on loan from the National Széchényi Library in Budapest and handwritten biographical notes from Werner. For the first time a number of significant ‘premieres‘, new and rediscoveries are shown, including a presumed lost copy of Werner’s testament. In addition, a rediscovered and restored portrait of the painter and musician Sigmund Leopold Gstettner will be presented from the picture cycle ‘Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary‘ donated by Werner.