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1945 – 1959

Postwar years

It was nothing short of a miracle: only three months after the end of the war, when Salzburg was crowded with refugees and soldiers, when the wounds caused by the bombing raids were still open, and when many products were only available on the black market, the festival took place again in the summer of 1945, with the support of the American occupying forces. In the following year the process of normalisation and consolidation really began: members of the ensemble of the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Philharmonic were available again. With the appointment of stage director Oscar Fritz Schuh, who devised a dramaturgical concept for the Salzburg Festival, an artist was engaged who until 1970 directed thirty productions for the festival and ensured that the opera repertoire in particular had a marked contemporary emphasis. World premieres or first performances in Austria took place of works by Frank Martin, Carl Orff, Werner Egk, Gottfried von Einem, Rolf Liebermann, Heimo Erbse and Boris Blacher. Conductors Wilhelm Furtwängler, Karl Böhm and Josef Krips working with a young, vivacious generation of singers, for instance Irmgard Seefried, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Sena Jurinac, Anton Dermota, Erich Kunz and Paul Schöffler, all of whom could act well, created a new style of Mozart which realised the vision of performing opera as music and theatre. From 1948 Ernst Lothar was head of drama and he revitalised the most traditional section of the Salzburg Festival: it was thanks to him that in 1952 the first real new staging of Jedermann after the Reinhardt era took place with Will Quadflieg in the title role. Ultimately one man gradually assumed ever greater importance and his name is for many visitors still inseparably linked with the Salzburg Festival: Herbert von Karajan. In 1948 he conducted an opera production for the first time: Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. In 1956 Karajan was appointed artistic director of the Salzburg Festival; in 1957 he made his debut also as a stage director for the production of Beethoven’s Fidelio, and he ensured that the regular guest appearances of his orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, became a permanent institution of the Salzburg Festival.

Details of the several years:

1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959,