© Tourismus Salzburg
Salzburg Festival Chronicle
It has greatly contributed to Salzburg's renown and is one of the world's most exclusive music festivals: ever since it was founded, the Salzburg Festival has been known for its exceptionally high quality of music, the commitment of its international artists and as a successful combination of the traditional and modern.
Towards the end of the World War I, the idea was born to establish a festival in Salzburg. Director Max Reinhardt, who had started his career as an actor at Salzburg's Landestheater, submitted the respective exposé in Vienna in 1917; the poet, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, published the policy objectives for the festival in 1919.
The Salzburg Festival was born on August 22, 1920 with the performance of Hugo von Hofmannsthal's morality play Jedermann (Everyman) on Cathedral Square, directed by Max Reinhardt. The production was performed again in 1921, supplemented by concerts, in 1922 an opera was added as an additional facet. It was possible to expand the repertoire by using the Felsenreitschule (the former Summer Riding School) as a venue (1926) and by building a festival hall (1925-27). Salzburg soon became a meeting point for the best directors, conductors, actors and vocalists of the time.
The war and the post-war years
The profile of the Salzburg Festival changed once Austria was annexed by Germany. Many of the artists who had characterized the Festival in the previous years were no longer permitted to appear. Works by the Festival's founder, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, were banned from the program, an international audience failed to appear. The city was misused by the wielders of power as a propaganda instrument. The program was considerably curtailed when the war began but the Festival reopened in the summer of 1945. Post-war operations slowly regained their prominence in the following year, 1946: ensemble members from the Vienna State Opera Wiener and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra were available again. In 1948 a man moved to the forefront whose name is inseparably connected to the Salzburg Festival to this day: Herbert von Karajan.
The Herbert von Karajan era
Herbert von Karajan opened the newly built Large Festival Hall on July 26, 1960 and rung in a new era: the new opera house could accommodate an audience of over 2,200. It was not primarily intended as a venue for the Mozart repertoire but for the popular operas of the 19th century. Karajan effectuated a further internationalization of the Festival. After his death in 1989 efforts were made to overcome the stagnation that had become evident during the final years of the Karajan era.
The open approach
Gerard Mortier pursued an open course to the Salzburg Festival during his tenure in Salzburg from 1990 to 2001, introducing a broader and more contemporary repertoire and new – occasionally provocative – aesthetic views to a different and younger audience. A motto was created for the individual seasons, whose idea was to be reflected throughout the program. The number of new productions increased noticeably each year and a new generation of directors moved into the spotlight in Salzburg.
Second modern age
Starting in 2002, Peter Ruzicka paid tribute to the city's most famous son with new, exemplary productions and the first complete performance cycle of all 22 Mozart operas. Austrian composers such as Korngold, Zemlinsky and Schreker, who had been forced into exile or banned during the Nazi years, were presented to the Festival audience for the first time. Ruzicka also wanted audiences to see commonly known 19th century works in a new light and in doing so explore the aestheticism of a "Second Modern Age". During his four-year tenure, the Festival took in the highest box-office revenues and had the largest number of visitors since the Karajan era. Between 2007 and 2012 Jürgen Flimm was the artistic director of the Salzburg Festival. He is followed by Alexander Pereira who celebrates his debut in an extralong and excitingly new Salzburg Festival.