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The Salzburg Festival (Salzburger Festspiele) is a prominent festival of music and drama. It is held each summer (for five weeks starting in late July) within the Austrianmarker town of Salzburgmarker, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In modern time there is also an annual Salzburg Easter Festival held by the same organization.


The summer festival was first founded in 1877 but was discontinued in 1910. At the close of World War I in 1918, its revival was championed by five men now regarded as the founders: poet and dramatist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, composer Richard Strauss, scenic designer Alfred Roller, conductor Franz Schalk and the director of the Salzburg City Theater, Max Reinhardt.

The Festival was officially reborn on 22 August 1920 with a performance of Hofmannsthal's play Jedermann on the steps of Cathedral Square. The practice has become a tradition, and Jedermann is now always performed at Cathedral Square.

In 1926 the old Archbishop's stable Felsenreitschule was converted into a theater and the Festival Hall (Salzburger Festspielhaus) opera house opened its doors. As this summer festival gained fame and stature as the premier venue for opera, drama play, and classical concert presentation, its musical repertory concentrated on Mozart and Strauss, but other works, such as Verdi's Falstaff and Beethoven's Fidelio were also performed.

1934 to 1937 represents a golden period when the famed conductors Arturo Toscanini and Bruno Walter conducted many performances. In 1936, the festival featured a performance by the Trapp Family Singers, whose story was later dramatized as the musical and film The Sound of Music (featuring a shot of the Trapps singing in Felsenreitschule Theater). In 1937, Boyd Neel and his orchestra premiered Benjamin Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge at the Festival.

The Festival's popularity suffered a major blow once Austria was annexed into Germany in 1938, though it remained in operation until closing temporarily in 1943. With the end of World War II, the Salzburg Festival reopened in 1945 immediately following the Allied victory in Europe.

Post World War II Festivals

The post-war Festival slowly regained its prominence as the premier summer opera festival, especially in works by Mozart.

In 2006, the festival celebrated the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth by staging all 22 of his operatic works (including two unfinished operas), to great acclaim. All 22 were filmed and were released to the general public in November 2006. Since 2002 the festival has been led by Artistic Director Markus Hinterhäuser. Alexander Pereira is scheduled to succeed Hinterhäuser after the 2011 summer festival.

Salzburg Whitsun Festival

The Salzburg Whitsun Festival (Salzburger Pfingstfestspiele) is an extension of the traditional Salzburg Summer Festival, and presents productions of operas along with works from the great baroque orchestral repertoire at the Grosses Festspielhaus during Whitsun (or Pentecost) weekend. In 2005, it presented Handel's Acis and Galatea and his oratorio Solomon.

See also


  1. The Gramophone, June 1972, p. 178

External links

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