Skulpture Salzburger Festspiele
Rehearse in the Felsenreitschule

The beginnings of the Salzburg festival

In summer 2017 Salzburg will present itself like every year as the "Stage of the World". Experience one of the most prestigious music festivals, which is characterized by the highest musical quality, international artists and a perfect blend of tradition and modernity.

The early beginnings of the Salzburg festival
The Salzburg Festival was born on August 22nd in 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.

After the beginning of WWII the program offer was significantly reduced because many artists no longer permitted to appear. But already in the summer of 1945 the Festival took place again and in 1946 the actual process of normalization began. In 1948 a man moved to the forefront whose name is inseparably connected to the Salzburg Festival to this day: Herbert von Karajan. 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.

Gerard Mortier pursued during his time in Salzburg (1990-2001) introducing a broader and more contemporary repertoire to a different and younger audience. 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". 2012-2014 Alexander Pereira was artistic director of the Salzburg Festival, followed by Sven-Eric Bechtolf 2015-2016. In 2017 Markus Hinterhäuser will become intendant of the festival.


Jedermann (Everyman) – Highlight of the festival

The play by Hugo von Hofmannsthal is about the Death, the Devil and other abstract beings. The wealthy Jedermann (Everyman) is faced by unexpected Death, calling him to his judgment. Allowed company on his final journey, he is deserted by his loyal servant, his friends and his money; the figures of Good Works and Faith help him repent and save his soul before he is lowered into his grave.

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Images © Salzburger Festspiele / Forster