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Leuchtbrunnen Concerts | © knaro.at
A luminous fountain and rhythmical melodies
Every summer from the beginning of May until the end of August, on certain evenings the Mirabell Gardens are transformed into a magical open-air stage. The lead roles are played by local wind ensembles and the elegant Four Elements Fountain, while a brilliant supporting cast includes twinkling stars, the moon and the beautiful gardens themselves.
Dusk begins to set in and, above us, the first stars are gradually appearing. We are on our way to Mirabell Gardens, where the Leuchtbrunnen Concert is scheduled to begin at 8:30. These special concerts take place every Wednesday from May 1 to August 31 in the former pleasure garden that was once the exclusive playground of the prince-archbishops. By the time we reach the venue for the event across from the Four Elements Fountain, numerous visitors are already there waiting for the concert to begin. Some have brought along their own folding chairs, others have made themselves comfortable on the traditional Schönbrunn-style benches. While others simply lean up against the old trees and chat quietly.
Water droplets sparkle like a thousand crystals
We join a group of Spaniards – clearly a family – who are whispering excitedly amongst themselves and gesticulating in the direction of the fountain. And indeed, the sight of this historic fountain in the heart of Mirabell Gardens is absolutely breathtaking: Bathed in colorful light, it radiates an almost magical beauty. The plumes of water sparkle as if made from thousands of tiny crystals. The big mythological stone figures symbolizing the four elements are caressed by the light: Hades, representing the element Earth, Paris the embodiment of Water, Aeneas the symbol of Fire along with Hercules, the figurative mythological depiction of Air.
An hour-long treat for the ears and eyes
Even while we are still engrossed in this stunning spectacle, we are interrupted by yet another: The musicians of Postmusikkapelle Salzburg, who will be serving up a feast for our ears, make their grand entrance. They march in formation from Schloss Mirabell through Mirabell Gardens to where they will perform across from the fountain. Right at the stroke of 8:30, the free hour-long concert gets underway. Clad in bright red uniforms, the members of this band immediately engross their audience. With their clarinets, trumpets, drums and a panoply of other classic wind instruments, they regale us all with a delightful musical selection – at times upbeat, at others quite lyrical and reflective. On occasion, a singer also adds to the variety. The repertoire of this ensemble is delightfully diverse – with everything from Europop to Alpine folk melodies. We already catch ourselves inadvertently tapping our toes in the middle of the first piece. Our attention alternates between the beautifully illuminated fountain and the eager musicians. It’s as clear as can be, why the traditional Leuchtbrunnen Concerts as well as the Promenade Concerts, which also take place here in the late afternoon, are so incredibly popular.
“When the music plays and the fountain is lit up, special moments are guaranteed”
In addition to the numerous summertime visitors to Salzburg City, Salzburg’s wind ensembles have quite a fan base of locals as well. We ask an elderly gentleman sporting lederhosen if he has ever attended one of these concerts before. He gives us a quiet smile and laughs, explaining that he has been coming to the Promenade and Leuchtbrunnen Concerts for many years. “I don’t manage to make it down absolutely every week, but I’m certainly here at least once a month”, he explains. In fact, he cycles all the way from Freilassing, a small town across the border in Bavaria, to Salzburg just for the concerts, parks his bike on Mirabellplatz, then kicks back and enjoys the atmosphere. “Mirabell Gardens are so beautiful in their own right”, he says. “But on those evenings when there’s also live music here and the fountains are lit up – well, that is really quite extraordinary.”