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Salzburg’s Prince-Archbishop Firmian (1727–1744) was a highly educated and arts-loving man – but also responsible for the expulsion of 22,000 Protestants from Salzburg. For Salzburg, this expulsion had catastrophic economic consequences. After the Protestants had been banished, Firmian divided Salzburg’s territory into four missionary areas among the Augustinians, Capuchins, Benedictines and Franciscans. In order to restore his family’s honour, at least partially, he commissioned the Scottish Benedictine friar Bernhard Stuart to design the rococo palace Leopoldskron as a representative ancestral home.
When Firmian died in 1744, he left the palace to his nephew Laktanz, a great connoisseur and collector of art. He saw himself as an artist and patron of the arts, and was one of the earliest supporters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. When the Archbishopric of Salzburg was dissolved early in the 19th century, the palace began to be sold out, as Laktanz’ son, who lacked all appreciation of art, failed to get parts of his father’s collection back after lending them out. During the following decades, the owners of the palace changed frequently, which led to the disappearance of nearly all the art objects. It was not until Max Reinhardt’s ownership that the neglected beauty of the palace blossomed once again. In 1918 Max Reinhardt purchased Leopoldskron Palace.
For two decades, Reinhardt was the master of Leopoldskron. During these 20 years, he restored the palace to its former glory through sensitive renovations and redesigns – while maintaining its old substance – quickly turning Leopoldskron into an international meeting-place. For the elites of culture, business and politics, it was a special honour to be invited as Max Reinhardt’s guest. He staged theatre plays and glamorous receptions at Leopoldskron for prominent individuals in the world of art and culture, thus infusing the palace with life and making it a venue for social gatherings in Salzburg.
This artistic and magical world abruptly ended when the National Socialists seized power in 1938 and confiscated Leopoldskron Palace as Jewish property. Max Reinhardt, who was working as a stage director in Hollywood/USA at that time, could therefore not return to Austria and died in 1943 in exile in New York.
Today the Leopoldskron Palace is owned by the American institution Salzburg Global Seminar. It is used for educational seminars and private events. In those guest rooms that are rented out one can sense the atmosphere of times past. Since 2007, the Salzburg Festival has used the garden and halls of the palace again. Its Poets in Residence stay in Max Reinhardt’s private rooms.
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