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In memoriam Karl Böhm

14 AUG 2011

published in: General

Karl Böhm, © Foto Ellinger
The Salzburg Festival commemorates Karl Böhm, who died 30 years ago, on August 14, 1981, in Salzburg. The charismatic artist had the greatest influence on the Salzburg Festival next to Herbert von Karajan, and is considered one of the greatest Mozart conductors to this day.

He made his Salzburg Festival debut on July 25, 1938 with Don Giovanni. Subsequently, he conducted many Mozart operas in Salzburg: Die Zauberflöte, Le nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Idomeneo. However, Böhm also made a name for himself with works by Richard Strauss, with whom he enjoyed not only a fruitful collaboration, but also long years of personal friendship. At the Salzburg Festival, he conducted his Rosenkavalier, Arabella, Capriccio, Ariadne auf Naxos, Die schweigsame Frau and Die Frau ohne Schatten (in 1974 and 1975 with Leonie Rysanek as the Empress). This year’s production of the opera by Christof Loy makes reference to Böhm’s legendary first recording of Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten, thus commemorating the conductor in an extraordinary way.

Apart from operas by Mozart and Strauss, Karl Böhm conducted productions of Wozzeck (Alban Berg), Iphigénie in Aulis (Christoph Willibald Gluck) and Fidelio (Ludwig van Beethoven) at the Salzburg Festival. In 1953, he also conducted the world premiere of Gottfried von Einem’s Der Prozeß. His last appearance at the Salzburg Festival took place on August 30, 1980, when he conducted the Vienna Philharmonic.

Born in Graz, Böhm gave concerts all over the world with the most famous orchestras, and was responsible for many unique recordings. Thus, he recorded the complete Mozart symphonies with the Berlin Philharmonic and realized many recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic too, an ensemble with which he enjoyed close relations for many years. His recordings made Karl Böhm unforgettable and conserve his musical heritage for future generations – and many of them were created as part of the Festival Documents