The symphony of a city

By | Travel
View over the Baroque Old Town of Salzburg Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site Credit@ John Reid via flickr.com

From its Romanesque, gothic churches, Baroque architecture and crisp alpine landscape;, Salzburg is a city of visual brilliance. Surrounded by the bracing lakes and snow capped mountains of the Salzkammergut Lake District, this beautifully constructed Austrian city is a celebrated UNESCO world heritage site.

Salzburg, Austria, has always drawn visitors for its predominant history, towering, detailed buildings and culture. With Hohensalzburg castle, the grey stone fortress balanced atop the cliffs of Salzburg city; Eisriesenwelt the world’s largest accessible ice caves and the birthplace and hometown of a musical hero; Salzburg is brimming with sights and experiences.

For five weeks every summer, Salzburg comes alive with the sound of music. The Salzburg festival, or Salzburger Festspiele, is a celebration of music, drama and opera since the early 1920’s. Music has always been a large part of the city of Salzburg. It is the birthplace and hometown of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who’s compositions are masterpieces in their own right and have influenced generations of musicians.

Mozart Matinee - Vladimir Fedoseyev. Credit@Salzburger Festspiele, Marco Borrelli, Lelli via Salzburgerfestspiele.com

Mozart Matinee – Vladimir Fedoseyev. Credit@Salzburger Festspiele, Marco Borrelli, Lelli via Salzburgerfestspiele.com

At the close of the First World War, five men championed a festival of Mozart themed drama and music that had been created years before. These five men became the founders of the Salzburg festival. Hugo von Hofmannsthal, a poet and dramatist; Richard Strauss, an already acclaimed composer; Alfred Roller, scenic designer; Franz Schalk, conductor and Max Reinhardt, a director of Berlin theatre fame.

Their Salzburg festival was officiated in 1920 and was celebrated with Reinhardt’s performance of Hofmannsthal’s Jedermann on the steps of the Salzburg Cathedral. This tradition is still honoured to this day, with a performance of Jedermann on the Cathedral steps being one of the opening performances every year.

Catherdral square. Credit@Taxiarchos228 via wiki.com

Catherdral square. Credit@Taxiarchos228 via wiki.com

Over the years, Salzburg city underwent construction to accommodate this budding concert. The first festival hall was created in 1925, then renovated in the 21st century and renamed as Haus Fur Mozart, the House of Mozart. This musical celebration has seen many famed conductors lead performances; Arthur Toscanini, Bruno Walter and Benjamin Britten all performed in the Salzburg ‘golden age’ period, as well as the Trapp family singers who performed in 1936.

After a brief closure during the annexation of Austria in 1938 and reopening after the end of the Second World War in 1945; the festival began to steamroll into fame and status, as a premiere venue for classical music and traditional theatre. While maintaining the heavy influences Mozart provides, the Salzburg expanded and modernised to include different composers, methods of dance and drama presentations.

With over 250 performances of opera, theatre and concert drama in this year’s programme, the 2014 Salzburg festival looks to be living up to the high standard history has set. This year’s line-up includes a tribute performance to Strauss on his 150th birthday this August, through his Rosenkavalier opera. This week aims to be the final week of the summer festival and it will conclude with an elegant ball in Rock Riding School.

Festspielball 2013. Foto: Andreas Kolarik, 31.08.13

Festspielball 2013. Foto: Andreas Kolarik, 31.08.13

With the regular residency of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and musicians and composers from all over the world gathering to contribute to this illustrations festival; its range and talent spans across many art forms, for many generations. Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ performance and Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ are two displays that are tailored to an audience of 4 years and above; showing that culture might be appreciated and absorbed by anyone at any age.

The Salzburg festival celebrates the best of human innovation and accomplishment. It is the blend of high culture and experiencing visual and audible wonders in a beautiful city. It demonstrates the influence music and art forms can have and how they have moulded this Austrian city into the legendary cultural habitat it has become.

For further information on the Salzburg festival: http://www.salzburgerfestspiele.at/summer

Mozart’s work inspired a city for over 100 years, how is music so influential to life and society?

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