Salzburg Festival

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Salzburg Festival
General information
place Salzburg , AustriaAustriaAustria 
organizer Salzburg Festival
Period since 1920
Visitor numbers
2007 253,750
2017 261,500
2018 261,000
Everyone and Death, Salzburg Festival 2014

The Salzburg Festival is considered the world's most important festival of classical music and performing arts . They have taken place in Salzburg every summer in July and August since 1920 . The festival's trademarks are Jedermann on Domplatz , exemplary Mozart and Strauss performances, as well as a diverse and top-class program of plays , operas and concerts. Every year more than 200 events are attended by more than 250,000 guests during the six weeks of the festival.

Foundation of the festival

The love of festivals and the theater has a long tradition in Salzburg. As early as the Middle Ages, great mystery plays were performed and there were costume parties that lasted for several days. The first opera north of the Alps is said to have been performed in Salzburg; in Salzburg Cathedral, opulent masses and oratorios were firmly anchored in the annual cycle. In 1613, Prince Archbishop Markus Sittikus commissioned the Hellbrunn water games , which still delight the public today. At the Salzburg University , dramas and singing plays were performed with great public participation. Prince Archbishop Colloredo , the rigid ecclesiastical and secular ruler of Mozart's time, put an end to some hustle and bustle, banned many customs and stopped numerous celebrations. But after his death numerous merrymaking came back to life and Mozart's admiration began with Mozart festivals and parades. The founding of the Bayreuth Festival in 1876 and the 100th anniversary of Don Giovanni in 1887 encouraged Vienna and Salzburg efforts to create a festival dedicated to the genius loci . “Some of the proponents were entirely German national, many suggestions also came from the Mozart community in Vienna. But the war intervened, the Republic of Austria followed the monarchy . "

Max Reinhardt (1873–1943), whose career as an actor began in 1893 at the Stadttheater Salzburg and who had built up a veritable theater empire in Berlin from 1901, was included from 1904 by the playwright Hermann Bahr (1863–1934) in his planning for Salzburg festivals . Even then, the Domplatz was planned as a venue, Anna Mildenburg was to stage operas, Reinhardt theater plays. The plans failed, like several times before, due to the lack of funding.

After Reinhardt had acquired Leopoldskron Palace in 1918 and stayed in Salzburg every summer, the plans became more specific. Together with Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874–1929) he conceived a project “of the Bavarian-Austrian tribe” as an antipode to the Prussian one in September of the same year: “What is practiced in Bayreuth, grouped around a north German individual, Wagner, here to build around an incomparably more complex and higher center, the art of Austria… ”. With this, the contrast between the two festival ideas was already set in the program: Bayreuth (a) highly exclusive, (b) a house, a composer, everything centered solely on his work, (c) but only the ten greatest hits (consequently double exclusivity) . Salzburg, on the other hand, (a) inclusive, (b) with three axes: drama, opera, concert, today in three festival halls and on numerous other places in the city, concert halls, churches and stages, outdoors and in closed rooms, (c) open to New, but always struggling to determine whether what is shown meets the high quality standards. So two worlds, although the basic aim of both festivals was to celebrate the festival in honor of a composer, to promote the sacred, the impressive, the sublime . Both concepts seem to work extremely well.


Max Reinhardt and Hugo von Hofmannsthal played a leading role in the founding phase of the festival. Reinhardt declared the whole city a stage and staged the medieval mystery play of Jedermann on Domplatz . The game about the dying of the rich man in a new version by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. The premiere on August 22, 1920 marked the birth of the festival; the play has been on the festival program since 1926 - with the exception of the Nazi period from 1938 to 1945. Reinhardt also discovered and opened the Kollegienkirche , Schloss Leopoldskron , the winter riding school and finally the summer riding school as venues for the festival . The winter and summer riding school were rebuilt several times and today - as a house for Mozart and the Felsenreitschule - mainly serve the opera and concerts.

In addition to the Iffland-Ring , the main role in Jedermann is considered the greatest award for an actor in German-speaking countries. It is mostly cast with experienced theater actors who have proven themselves in classic roles. In the Max Reinhardt production (1920 to 1937) the bon vivant was embodied by Alexander Moissi , Paul Hartmann and Attila Hörbiger . The National Socialists banned further performances of Jedermann because of the author's Jewish ancestors. In the post-war years, Ewald Balser , again Attila Hörbiger, Will Quadflieg , Walther Reyer and Ernst Schröder played the leading role, before internationally known film actors, Curd Jürgens , Maximilian Schell and Klaus Maria Brandauer , came into play from 1973 . Ever since the 1990s, Jedermann has primarily been embodied by stage actors - Helmut Lohner , Gert Voss , Ulrich Tukur , Peter Simonischek , Nicholas Ofczarek and, since 2013, Cornelius Obonya . The role of woo - with very little text, but maximum visibility - was often cast with popular television and film stars such as Nadja Tiller , Christiane Hörbiger , Nicole Heesters , Senta Berger , Marthe Keller , Sophie Rois or Veronica Ferres .

True to the motto of the co-founders - "the highest of everything" - the drama in Salzburg was set to work from the stage literature that had already been approved from the start. Hofmannsthal himself was successful in Salzburg with his Jedermann (and with his libretti for Strauss operas), but otherwise without luck. The big world theater in Salzburg , written especially for the festival, was not staged again after 1925, and even the comedy about the distress of the bourgeoisie shortly before the fall of the dual monarchy - The Difficult of 1910 - did not establish itself permanently in Salzburg's repertoire. Goldoni and Moliere were played there , almost everything from Shakespeare , plays from antiquity , Heinrich von Kleist and Weimarer Klassik , folk plays by Nestroy and Raimund , and occasionally Ibsen and Schnitzler . As a festival piece par excellence - next to everyone - the Midsummer Night's Dream can be considered, preferably with Mendelssohn's drama music.

While premieres were common practice in the Salzburg Opera immediately after the Second World War , the connection to the present in the theater took significantly longer. In the late 1950s, Oscar Fritz Schuh presented three contemporary pieces, including an unsuccessful world premiere by Fritz Hochwälder . In the 1960s, the Europa-Studio tried to establish contemporary dramas in Salzburg, but in the 1970s and 1980s there were at least five premieres of Thomas Bernhard plays, promoted by Josef Kaut , the festival's open-minded president. Salzburg only arrived in the present during the Mortier / Stein era , which opened another venue with the Perner Island in Hallein and invited directors promptly, and subsequently with the Young Directors Project , which Jürgen Flimm launched in 2002 was called and existed until 2014. In 2014, the drama program was dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War - and, in addition to the last days of mankind, also showed Forbidden Zone , Ödön from Horváth's Don Juan comes from the war and a dramatization of Gustav Meyrink's Golem .


The opera productions of the Salzburg Festival were for much of the 20th century and are still shaping the style today. The opera in Salzburg - as a total work of art - represents the primus inter pares in the triad of drama, opera and concert. Almost all of the world's leading conductors have worked in Salzburg, as have most of the most outstanding singers, directors, stage and costume designers. Many of the performances have been preserved for posterity as audio documents or TV recordings.

Fierrabras , 2014
Il trovatore , 2014
Carmen , 2012

The Salzburg focus is consistently on operas by Mozart and Richard Strauss, on contemporary works, as well as the festival operas Orfeo ed Euridice , Fidelio , Don Carlos and Falstaff . The Mozart repertoire in Salzburg is not limited to the three da Ponte operas, The Abduction from the Seraglio and The Magic Flute , but also includes the less frequently performed works. The first opera performance of the Festival was Don Giovanni under the musical direction of Richard Strauss on August 14, 1922 - a guest performance by the Vienna State Opera in the Salzburg State Theater . Thanks to the Vienna Philharmonic , who play four to five opera productions every year in Salzburg with the first line-up, the interpretations of Mozart and Strauss operas are of exceptional orchestral quality.

The Salzburg repertoire was gradually expanded - first by Bruno Walter , Arturo Toscanini and Karl Böhm , and finally by Herbert von Karajan : Walter conducted operas by Richard Wagner and Hugo Wolf , Gluck and Donizetti for the first time at the Salzburg Festival . Toscanini established Falstaff as a genuine Salzburg festival opera in 1935 . In 1951 and 1971, Böhm presented Alban Berg 's opera Wozzeck , which was hardly played at the time , and thus an exponent of the twelve-tone technique . Karajan finally popularized the program with a wide range of other Verdi operas, with Puccini's Tosca and Bizet's Carmen .

The early works of the opera and the baroque found their place in the Salzburg repertoire quite early on. Gluck has been staged in Salzburg since 1930 and Handel since 1984. From 1968 to 1973 Cavalieri's seldom played rap presentations di anima et di corpo in a model production by Graf / Colosanti / Moore enjoyed the greatest public interest. In 1971, 1985 and 1993 all surviving Monteverdi operas were presented in Salzburg.

In the course of time, the Salzburg Festival with almost all the major opera houses in the world ( Vienna State Opera , Scala , La Fenice , Opéra de la Bastille , La Monnaie , Metropolitan Opera , Mariinski Theater ) and some important festivals ( Aix-en-Provence , Maggio Musicale Fiorentino ) cooperates. Most of these co-productions were developed in Salzburg and could often be seen many years later at important opera houses, such as Robert Wilson's exemplary Pelléas-et-Mélisande production from 1997, which was produced together with the Operá de Paris and was still in It was performed in Madrid and Barcelona in 2012 . In 2014, in addition to the world premiere of the opera Charlotte Salomon by Marc-André Dalbavie, the program also featured La Cenerentola , a new Don Giovanni and a new Rosenkavalier . In addition, were Il trovatore (with Anna Netrebko and Plácido Domingo for the first time in Salzburg - -) and Schubert Fierrabras (in a Peter Stein given -Inszenierung).


Concert at the Felsenreitschule , 2013

The concerts of the Salzburg Festival have been an important pillar of the festival since 1921. Initiated by Bernhard Paumgartner , later President of the Festival, four orchestral concerts, three chamber concerts, a serenade and a concert of sacred music took place. Since 1925, song recitals have also been held, and since 1926 soloist concerts. Since 1927 Mozart's C minor Mass in the collegiate church of St. Peter has been one of the fixed points of the festival, since 1949 also the Mozart matinees in the Mozarteum , both in turn initiated by Bernhard Paumgartner .

The big orchestral concerts are central , often with choirs , vocal or instrumental soloists. The Vienna Philharmonic has played the majority of orchestral concerts since 1922 and also opens the concert program every year. An important characteristic of the Salzburg Festival is the quality requirements of conductors and soloists . Since the late 1950s, the best orchestras from all over Europe, North and South America, Israel and Japan have made regular guest appearances in Salzburg, first the Berliner Philharmoniker , the Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra , and finally all other well-known orchestras in the world. Currently, between ten and fifteen orchestras can be heard in Salzburg each summer, including leading youth orchestras , chamber orchestras and baroque ensembles , as well as orchestras and musicians' associations specializing in contemporary music .

In 2012, then director Alexander Pereira founded the Ouverture spirituelle , a series of concerts with sacred music from various denominations as a preliminary program for the actual festival. In 2013 the Venezuelan music project El Sistema performed with four orchestras , a brass ensemble , two choirs and a string quartet in Salzburg, El Sistema played at the opening ceremony, in ten concerts and a children's concert rehearsal. In 2013 all of Mahler's symphonies were performed, in 2014 all nine of Bruckner's symphonies were on the program.

History of the Festival

Everyone , 1920
Dinner party, 1920

The lost world war, the lost monarchical and supranational reality and the further development considerations for cultural identity, as well as the need to stimulate tourism, contributed significantly to giving a boost to the festival idea. In his founding considerations, Hugo von Hofmannsthal particularly affirmed the creation of a cultural basis for the nonetheless ongoing and now particularly necessary mission of the "Theresian people" as co-heirs of the Holy Roman Empire or the Danube Monarchy to further mediate between the European ethnicities through the use of equalizing knightly pan-European Habsburgs Values. According to Hofmannsthal's writings on political and constitutional law (which retrospectively have a clairvoyant effect with regard to the then coming National Socialism), the Salzburg Festival was intended as a counterpart to the Prussian-North German uncompromising or alternative worldview, the unifying and balancing Habsburg principles of "Live and let life!" emphasize. Finding compromises, the Catholic worldview between earthly joys and the certainty of transience and pride in regional peculiarities (e.g. handicrafts, traditions, etc.) should be shown and also promoted and preserved. Hofmannsthal was thus in line with many writers and artists of his time such as Stefan Zweig , Joseph Roth, but also James Joyce , who had come into contact with the multi-ethnic state of Austria-Hungary in the cosmopolitan port city of Trieste and, looking back, the perished state with “They called the Austrian Empire a ramshackle empire, I wish to God there were more such empires “classified.

In 1920, after decades of discussion, conception and planning, the first Salzburg Festival finally took place . Reinhardt chose Hofmannsthal's Jedermann , a play that he himself had premiered in December 1911 in the Berlin Circus Schumann , the Domplatz as the venue and Alexander Moissi as the main actor. In the retrospective, the choice of the play appears ideal, the venue congenial and the main actor excellent. What still seemed antiquated and out of place in pre-war Prussian-Protestant Berlin, came into its own against the backdrop of the baroque Salzburg Cathedral in the arch-Catholic city of Salzburg. The piece became a long-running hit and the festival's trademark. Today the fourteen performances every year have around 35,000 viewers, and Jedermann is mostly sold out. Reinhardt was also to shape the coming years of the festival - with his sure hand in the selection of picturesque venues - until the opera took over the first violin in the early 1930s . Reinhardt had another lasting success in 1933 with the Faust in Clemens Holzmeister's Fauststadt in the Felsenreitschule , but basically his time was already over.

When the director of the Salzburg Mozarteum, Bernhard Paumgartner (1887–1971), allowed himself to arrange a few concerts with local people in addition to Jedermann in 1921 , Richard Strauss was angry. He, who had significantly supported the festival idea, feared provinciality would return , grabbed the telephone and baton, engaged the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera , and conducted Mozart's Don Giovanni in 1922 - the first opera performance of the festival - and then his Così fan tutte . The conductor Franz Schalk was given Le nozze di Figaro and The Abduction from the Seraglio . Alfred Roller (1864–1935), who was to shape the aesthetics of Salzburg's opera and drama productions in the first fifteen years, was the stage designer for all four Mozart operas of that year . From 1922 to 1924 Strauss also acted as President of the Festival, he remained connected to the Festival until the end of his life. The world premiere of his last opera ( Die Liebe der Danae ) took place posthumously in 1954 in Salzburg. With the exception of the Nazi era, Paumgartner also remained in the game, institutionalizing the Mozart matinees in 1949 and the C minor Mass in the collegiate church of St. Peter in 1950 , both with the local Mozarteum orchestra , which is one of the pillars of the festivals today. Paumgartner's loyal service over many decades was rewarded with the presidency in 1960, which he held until his death in 1971.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the modified and shortened Salzburg Festival will take place from August 1 - 30, 2020.


The house for Mozart from the singer's point of view

After the plans for a festival hall on Mönchsberg (1890) and in Hellbrunn (1919) failed, the Salzburg Festival of the founding years took possession of the existing squares, palaces, churches, theater and concert buildings: Hofmannsthal's Jedermann is performed every year on Domplatz , Concerts are held in the Mozarteum and the Residenzhof , and operas and speech pieces are performed in the State Theater. Three Salzburg baroque churches were also opened as venues for the festival: the cathedral , the collegiate church and the collegiate church of St. Peter .

When the desire for their own venues became more and more urgent, three festival halls were gradually built on the site of the former prince-archbishop's stables and riding schools:

  • a provisional festival hall (1925), first set up for drama, then also for opera and concerts, which only found its final form after numerous renovations in 2006 with the new name Haus für Mozart - with 1,495 seats and 85 standing places,
  • the Felsenreitschule (1926), first played by Max Reinhardt and also adapted several times by 2011 - with 1,412 seats and 25 standing places, as well
  • the Große Festspielhaus (1960), a panoramic stage built by Clemens Holzmeister with a portal width of 32 meters and 2,179 seats.

The expansion of the festival from the 1990s onwards meant that additional venues had to be found for the drama: in 1992 the Alte Saline on the Perner Island in Hallein , finally also the republic (the former city cinema), the Salzburg theater and occasionally the ice arena Salzburg .

Artistic director of the festival

Until 1991 the artistic responsibility lay in the hands of the board of trustees of the Salzburg Festival. Clear responsibilities have only existed since Gerard Mortier took over the management of the festival in 1991 and was responsible for the program for the first time in 1992. The artistic director bears overall artistic responsibility, programs and casts the opera program himself and has the right to propose the directors of drama and concerts.

year Directorship play concert
1992 Gerard Mortier Peter Stein Hans Landesmann
1998 Ivan Nagel
1999 Frank Baumbauer
2002 Peter Ruzicka Jürgen Flimm Peter Ruzicka
2005 Martin Kušej
2007 Jürgen Flimm Thomas Oberender Markus Hinterhäuser
2011 Markus Hinterhäuser
2012 Alexander Pereira Sven-Eric Bechtolf Alexander Pereira , Florian Wiegand
2015 Sven-Eric Bechtolf Florian Wiegand
2017 Markus Hinterhäuser Bettina Hering

Further festivals in Salzburg

In addition to the Summer Festival, there are:

  • The Mozart Week , founded in 1956 , which is organized by the Mozarteum Foundation every year around Mozart's birthday, January 27th.
  • The Salzburg Easter Festival , founded in 1967 , which is financially and organizationally independent.
  • The Salzburg Whitsun Concerts , founded in 1973 , from which the Salzburg Whitsun Festival emerged; they have been part of the Summer Festival financially and organisationally since 1998.
  • Aspects Salzburg , founded in 1977 , is a festival for the music of our time that takes place every two years in April / May.
  • The Dialoge Festival , founded in 2006 , which confronts the classic and the modern every December.
  • The Salzburg Biennale , founded in 2009 , a festival for new music that ended in 2016.


See also


The festival center is Hofstallgasse. The right of the eponymous street for former prince- Hofmarstall , which was rebuilt in several phases to three festival houses: Large Festival Hall (front), Summer Riding School (in the middle set back) and the House for Mozart . Parts of the stage technology are built into the mountain. In the background the collegiate church of St. Peter , where Mozart's C minor Mass is performed every year .
  • Salzburg Festival: The great world theater - 90 years of the Salzburg Festival. Self-published, Salzburg 2010, OCLC 845844257 .
  • Robert Kriechbaumer (ed.): The Salzburg Festival 1945–1960. Jung + Jung, Salzburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-902497-30-7 .
  • Robert Kriechbaumer (ed.): The Salzburg Festival 1960–1989 - The Karajan era. Jung + Jung, Salzburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-902497-32-1 .
  • Robert Kriechbaumer (ed.): The Salzburg Festival 1990–2001 - The Mortier / Landesmann era. Jung + Jung, Salzburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-902497-33-8 .
  • Robert Kriechbaumer: Between Austria and Greater Germany. A political history of the Salzburg Festival 1933–1944. Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2013, ISBN 978-3-205-78941-3 .
  • Marina Auer: The Salzburg Festival in the Shadow of Politics (1933–1945). LMU publications, Munich 2003. (full text) .
  • Edda Fuhrich, Gisela Prossnitz (Hrsg.): The Salzburg Festival. Your story in dates, testimonies and pictures. Volume 1. 1920-1945 . Residence, Salzburg 1990, ISBN 3-7017-0630-1 .
  • Stephen Gallup: The History of the Salzburg Festival . Orac, Vienna 1989, ISBN 3-7015-0164-5 .
  • Josef Kaut: The Salzburg Festival. Pictures of a world theater . Residence, Salzburg 1973, ISBN 3-7017-0047-8 .
  • Andreas Novak : Salzburg hears Hitler breathing. The Salzburg Festival 1933–1945 . DVA, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-421-05883-0 .
  • Andress Müry (Ed.): Little Salzburg Festival History . Pustet, Salzburg 2002, ISBN 3-7025-0447-8 .
  • Michael P. Steinberg: Origin and ideology of the Salzburg Festival 1890–1938 . Pustet, Salzburg / Munich 2000, ISBN 3-7025-0410-9 .
  • Harald Waitzbauer : Festive summer. The social atmosphere of the Salzburg Festival from 1920 to the present . Series of publications by the Salzburg State Press Office, Salzburg 1997.
  • Wilfried Posch: Clemens Holzmeister. Architect between art and politics. With a catalog raisonné by Monika Knofler . Salzburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-99014-020-8 .


Web links

Commons : Salzburg Festival  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Notes and individual references

  1. ^ ORF: Opera Award for the Salzburg Festival. April 23, 2013, accessed July 26, 2013.
  2. ^ A b Norbert Mayer : Salzburg Festival: After the defeat, a triumph of culture , Die Presse , July 25, 2014
  3. ^ Hermann Bahr and the Salzburg Festival , University of Vienna, accessed on August 1, 2014
  4. ↑ First performance of Hofmannsthal's Das Salzburger Großes Welttheater , 1922.
  5. ^ Molieres The Imaginary Sick , 1923.
  6. Once again Hofmannsthal's Salzburg World Theater and Vollmoeller's Das Mirakel , 1925.
  7. Goldonis The Servant of Two Masters , 1926.
  8. Heribert Prantl: A cheer for the compromise. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung of April 3, 2016.
  9. ^ William M. Johnston: On the cultural history of Austria and Hungary 1890-1938. Böhlau, Cologne / Vienna 2015, ISBN 978-3-205-79378-6 , p. 49.
  10. ^ Franz Karl Stanzel: James Joyce in Kakanien (1904-1915). Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2019, ISBN 978-3-8260-6615-3 , p. 29.
  11. Modified Salzburg Festival 2020. Accessed on July 17, 2020 .