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Consecration of the Festival’s Newly Restored Open-Air Organ in Toscaninihof

20 JUL 2012

published in: General

Festspielorgel (Photo: Luigi Caputo)
Salzburg is the “heart of the heart of Europe,” as Festival founder Hugo von Hofmannsthal once explained the choice of location – geographically, ideally and politically. And the Festival district is the heart of the heart of this heart. With the construction of the Großes Festspielhaus, Herbert von Karajan literally opened a new dimension for the Festival. With the Haus für Mozart, we finally have an adequate performance venue for Mozart’s works. And the Felsenreitschule with its new, mobile roof is a felicitous combination of unique historical ambiance and the latest technology.

To me, the reactivation of the open-air organ is the resounding final cornerstone of our efforts to improve the Festival district. In 2009, the State Landmark Conservator, Dr. Ronald Gobiet, called my attention to this long-forgotten jewel of our Festival history. Once, there was a real organ behind the well-known faux pipes on the façade of the Festspielhaus in Toscaninihof – similarly to the Bull at Salzburg’s Castle and the “Heroes’ Organ” in Kufstein, it was conceived as an open-air organ. When the Kleines Festspielhaus was renovated in 1963, it was forgotten, and thus left to rust for 50 years.

I am delighted and grateful that I was able to convince Senator DDr. Herbert Batliner, thanks to whose generous personal support the frescoes in the Faistauer Foyer have also been restored to their original glory, to help us with this project.

Apart from Senator Batliner’s financial support, the fact that we were able to restore the Festival Organ within such a short time, after half a century of decay, is due to our partners’ support:
Chief among these is the organ-building firm “Werkstätte für Orgelbau – Dipl. Ing. Wolfgang Bodem” from Leopoldsdorf near Vienna, which submitted the most convincing restoration concept and implemented it with great finesse and technical know-how.
Then there is the State Landmark Conservator, Hofrat Dr. Ronald Gobiet, who not only called my attention to this unique instrument, but whose office also paid for the costs of adapting the building.
The Salzburg Festival’s employees who accompanied the project must be mentioned, especially my coworker Caroline Wehrhan, who has become a veritable organ expert, and the stage technicians of the Haus für Mozart as well as the building administrators, who resolved all the technical and organizational challenges under the most difficult rehearsal conditions.

Starting in the summer of 2012, we will begin selected performances with organ music. Thus, the Festival has a spectacular new acoustic “flag to fly,” heralding the celebration of art in a very special way at future Whitsun and summer events.

Helga Rabl-Stadler