2020 MUSICAL AMERICA DIRECTORY 7
of the year The Salzburg Festival
reduced the Festival’s operations to a minimum, with
authorities forbidding the 1944 premiere of Strauss’s Die
Liebe der Danae, although the dress rehearsal famously
With the end of World War II, the Festival faced
conditions similar to those at its origin but worse, given
the Nazi atrocities and tensions between allied powers that
prevailed. Astonishingly, barely three months after the
Nazi surrender, the first post-war Festival was held, which
included new productions of Hofmannsthal’s Der Tor und
der Tod (The Gate and Death) and Mozart’s Die Entführung
aus dem Serail. Restoring the Salzburg event was in fact a
priority for General Mark W. Clark, commander of the
American occupying forces in Austria. Clark regarded the
Festival as a step toward the goal of a free and independent
Austria. More than ever, Austria and Europe were in need
of the regenerative powers of art and culture recognized by
THE KARAJAN ERA
Following denazification procedures, Wilhelm Furtwängler led memorable performances of operas until his
death in 1954; denazification was also required for Herbert
von Karajan, who made his debut in 1948, and Karl Böhm
(1938), each of whom had first appeared before the war.
In 1957, Karajan became artistic director; during his more
than 30 years at the helm, the Festival increasingly became
his fiefdom—he was sometimes called the “uncrowned
king” of Salzburg—as it also grew in international profile.
His supremely polished performances drew automotive
metaphors from critics to describe their high precision. The
heights he achieved with the Berlin Philharmonic became
part of the Salzburg experience, threatening (but by no
means ending) Vienna’s status as the main orchestra.
For operas, he often entrusted the stage direction to
himself, typically in collaboration with set designer Günther
Schneider-Siemsen. With Karajan’s opera performances, it
was said, the real drama was in the orchestra pit, and what
The Vienna Philharmonic in Grand Festival Hall Auditorium. Without the Vienna Philharmonic, says President Rabl-Stadler, “there might be a festival in
Salzburg, but it would not be the Salzburg Festival.” Photo: © Salzburg Festival/Marco Borrelli.
(left to right) Bruno Walter, Thomas Mann, Arturo Toscanini, 1935.
© Archive of the Salzburg Festival/Photo Ellinger.