Salzburg Easter Festival

Salzburg Easter Festival
The Salzburg Easter Festival (Osterfestspiele Salzburg) is an annual music festival held in the city of Salzburg, Austria during Easter week. It is dedicated to opera and classical music. It was founded in 1967 by Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan in order to expand the traditional Salzburg Festival.

The Salzburg Festival (Salzburger Festspiele) is a prominent festival of music, opera and theater that has been held each summer since 1920. In 1967, Herbert von Karajan came up with the idea of holding an annual springtime festival that would become a kind of a warm-up before the four-week Salzburg Festival held in July. Karajan became the first artistic director of the new festival.

The program of the Salzburg Easter Festival features major productions of famous operas as well as various orchestral works. Most concerts take place at the Großes Festspielhaus (Large Festival House), a performance venue specifically built for the Salzburg Festival in the mid-1950s.

For a large portion of the Salzburg Easter Festival’s history, its resident orchestra has been the Berlin Philharmonic, of which Karajan was the music director from 1955 until his resignation in 1989. Even after Karajan resigned, the orchestra continued its involvement with the festival through its subsequent principal conductors including Claudio Abbado and Simon Rattle. The Berlin Philharmonic departed as the resident orchestra and was replaced by the Staatskapelle Dresden beginning in 2013.

In 2005, the program of the festival expanded to include contemporary music. Contemporary works have been performed by youth orchestras such as Vienna’s Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester (conductor Franz Welser-Möst) and the European Union Youth Orchestra (principal conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy at the time of the performance).

Today’s Salzburg Easter Festival is one of Europe’s largest festivals of its kind. It offers a rich and diverse program of opera, choral and orchestral concerts, chamber music and additional events held at several venues including the Großes Festspielhaus, the Great Hall of the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation, and the Large University Auditorium. Additional events include exhibitions, symposia, children’s events, lectures, and more.

Salzburg Easter Festival

Photo: Matthias Creutziger




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