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City feeling

Let it swing! Jazz in Salzburg

More than one hundred years old and counting: To this day, jazz can be counted on for captivating entertainment. The City of Salzburg, too, gets its groove on all year round. But how long has it been that way? We set out on a short journey back in time.

Saxophone and trumpet, string bass and percussion, from gentle tones to wild rhythms and back again – jazz is more diverse and surprising than perhaps any other musical genre. Born in around 1900 in the southern United States, jazz music has long since conquered the entire world. In its early years, jazz was generally performed by Afro-Americans – one of the most famous and influential figures being trumpeter and singer Louis Armstrong, who was born in New Orleans back in 1901. Much has happened since then, of course. Musicians from every corner of the globe have enthusiastically accepted the legacy of Louis Armstrong. Here in the beautiful City of Mozart, too, a distinctive jazz scene has successfully managed to establish itself. So much so that the famous festival "Jazz & The City", which takes place here every year in the autumn, is just the tip of the iceberg.

How it all began: Salzburg jazzes and swings

One of the very first events in Salzburg to cast a spotlight on jazz music was a concert series entitled “Jazz in the Theater”. At the opening concert on 7 April 1981, the Doug Hammond Trio put on a true musical fireworks show in the basement of the Elisabethbühne. Through 1996, many jazz greats took the mic in their hands: Lester Bowie, David Murray, Henry Threadgill and Cecil Taylor guaranteed evenings filled with thrilling music. As of February 2002, “Jazz in the Theater” finally found a year-round home at the ”Jazzit:Musik:Club”. In parallel to “Jazz in the Theater”, several other jazz formats and clubs sprang up in Salzburg. Yet another early representative was Jazzclub Life Salzburg, likewise founded in 1981, where they generally performed more traditional forms of jazz. At the StageBar in the Salzburg Historic District, Austrian and international jazz musicians continue to perform to this day. Restaurateur and jazz lover Adi Jüstel also established a small-but-outstanding jazz scene in the then Mexicano Keller of Hotel Blaue Gans in Salzburg’s famous Getreidegasse. Here, for many years, Austrian musicians would perform, with world-famous stars often stopping by for an impromptu jam session.

From “Salzburg Jazz Autumn” to “Jazz & The City”

“Salzburg Jazz Autumn” was born in 1996 and ran until 2013. International jazz greats, including Ray Charles and Lalo Schifrin, as well as local jazz musicians would perform their hearts out there. Ultimately, it would be “Jazz & The City” that would accept the baton handed off by “Salzburg Jazz Autumn”. Originally, this festival took place in the Salzburg Historic District during the run-up to Salzburg Jazz Autumn beginning in the year 2000. Nowadays, hundreds of concerts are offered on five days at the widest variety of locations in downtown Salzburg. With free admission! Local artists and internationally acclaimed acts transform the city into a mecca for jazz fans every year from the end of October until the beginning of November. You will encounter music, laughter and dancing in practically every nook & cranny of the city.

“Take the A-Train”: Music is in the air at the main station

Named after a jazz standard composed by Billy Strayhorn in 1939, which would become a symbol of the Swing era, the ”Take the A-Train” festival at the main station in Salzburg has won a permanent place in the heart of jazz lovers. The young festival was created in 2015, since when it has been held annually on four days in mid-September. Here, innovative music acts from across Europe rub shoulders with local performers, all of them giving jazz music its props at 17 locations close to Salzburg Main Station. On those dates, the Elisabeth district of Salzburg becomes one of Europe’s musical capitals – diverse, high-spirited, bringing people together. A modern, young and inspiring concept that whets your appetite for more: and eager anticipation for what the next year in jazz will bring us, here in Salzburg City.