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Obituary: Gerhard Andlinger

8 JAN 2018

published in: General

Gerhard Andlinger © Manfred Siebinger
At Christmas the Salzburg Festival received the sad news that Gerhard “Gerry” Andlinger – founder and long-time President of the Salzburg Festival Society and a generous patron of the Festival – died on 22nd December 2017 at the age of 86 in New York.  

“With Gerry Andlinger the Salzburg Festival has lost a true friend,” mourned the Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler. “It was a blessing for me on a personal level and for the Festival on a financial level to have known him. The SalzburgKulisse with its unique view across the baroque old town could only be achieved when the Haus für Mozart was opened in 2006 thanks to his generous support.”

Heinrich Spängler, President of the Friends of the Salzburg Festival, also paid Andlinger the highest respects: “Gerry Andlinger was not only an ideal partner as Chairman of the Salzburg Festival Society in New York, but most importantly a very good personal friend. He was a generous personality as a businessman and a kind-hearted person.”

In 2005 Gerhard Andlinger founded the Salzburg Festival Society (SFS) together with Isabelle Harnoncourt and John French, which unites the Festival’s American friends and patrons. Succeeding the American Friends of the Salzburg Festival, the SFS is dedicated to extending the appreciation of classical music and to financing opera productions at the Salzburg Festival. For example, the SFS gave one million dollars to support Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s final opera at the Festival in 2012, Mozart’s Zauberflöte using original instruments. The work of the SFS also includes promoting young artists and conversations with the artists in English. In this way the Salzburg Festival Society not only maintains the long tradition of forging artistic links between our two continents but carries this idea forward into the 21st century. 

Gerhard Andlinger was born in Linz in 1931. He first travelled to America in 1948 as the winner of an essay competition for Austrian students run by the ‘New York Herald Tribune’ – with the wonderful title “The World I Want”. Eighteen months later, at the age of 19, Gerhard Andlinger left post-war Austria once again to study Economics and Arabic at Princeton. He subsequently completed a Master’s degree at the Harvard Business School.

After serving in the US Army, he began his career with McKinsey & Company, before moving on to join ITT, where he was rapidly promoted through the management structure. In 1976 he founded the investment house Andlinger & Company, which he developed into a billion dollar concern with over 100 firms and thousands of employees on all five continents of the earth.

Deeply committed to the American tradition of advancing science and culture through private patronage, Gerhard Andlinger’s greatest priority was support for his alma mater: “Princeton occupies a very special place in my heart. I feel privileged to be in a position where I can give something back to this wonderful university and the country that has offered me a home and a wealth of opportunities.”

Whenever he found something important, Gerry Andlinger pursued it tenaciously. After his first wife died of cancer, he invested 100 million dollars in cancer research. And following the premature death of his son he gave support to a new medical research project.  

This successful Austrian-American was also a staunch supporter of the American Austrian Foundation, whose aim is to promote understanding between the peoples of Austria and the United States through programmes in medicine, music, the visual arts, diplomacy and the media.

As the co-founder and heart of the Salzburg Festival Society Gerry Andlinger was a born bridge-builder. The most recent co-production between the Salzburg Festival and The Metropolitan Opera in New York was therefore a particular pleasure. On 26th October 2017 we attended the American premiere of ‘The Exterminating Angel’ together, the award-winning new opera by Thomas Adès, which had already been a huge success in both Salzburg and London. And on 14th November at the SFS’s traditional Fundraising Dinner Gerry Andlinger made a passionate speech for additional support for the Salzburg Festival. His rhetorical blend of factual knowledge, humour and warmth meant that every speech he gave was an experience. And our deepest sympathy now goes to his family and especially his wife Jeanne, who was always so understanding in sharing his commitment to Austria,” said Helga Rabl-Stadler.