5 Dec 2019

Musical America Award
Speech of Helga Rabl-Stadler

On 4 December 2019 President Helga Rabl-Stadler and Artistic Director Markus Hinterhäuser received the Musical America Award "Festival of the Year" from Sedgwick Clark, editor of Musical America Worldwide Directory, during a special ceremony at Carnegie Hall, New York. Read the full speech of Helga Rabl-Stadler below.

“Thank you, Sedgwick, and thank you to the editors and publishers of Musical America for selecting the Salzburg Festival as Festival of the Year. A precious gift, which fuels our phantasy and our energy for next year’s 100th anniversary. For our Festival to be recognized as the first-ever Festival of the Year and only the second institution after Carnegie Hall is indeed a high honor. To read the list of artists, who have received a Musical America Award is much like reading our program books over the decades: Singers: From Leontyne Price, Salzburg’s sensational Leonore (Il trovatore) in 1961 and 1962, got the award in the same year (1962), to Christa Ludwig in 1994, who is still holding acclaimed masterclasses for our Young Singers Project. Further on to Anna Netrebko, who will be our Tosca next year.
The conductors in your list Artists of the Year – we had and have them all in Salzburg: Leonard Bernstein, the first award winner in 1961. Pierre Boulez, who conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in Salzburg the first time and which became a lifelong fruitful musical relationship. Zubin Mehta, Sir Georg Solti, Seji Ozawa, André Previn, Bernard Haitink, Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The award winners Riccardo Muti, Andris Nelsons, Gustavo Dudamel – they will all conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in the centenary summer. This Orchestra is part of the identity of the Salzburg Festival and the Salzburger Festival in turn is a good part of their identity. To this day, the Vienna Philharmonic performed more than 2250 operas and more than 800 concerts at the Salzburg Festival.
And of course Herbert von Karajan, the most influential artist in the 100 years history of the festival a part from our founders: the stage director Max Reinhardt, the poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal, the composer Richard Strauss. He conducted the incredible number of 247 operas and 90 concerts at the festival.

We dedicate this award to the thousands of artists and our tireless staff that brought the Salzburg Festival its outstanding reputation. Our founding fathers had the courage to make their dream come true in one of the darkest times of the last century, the First World War. An the more I read about it, the more I learn they founded the festival not in spite of the chaos, the difficulties of daily life, but because of the desperate situation. They were absolutely convinced, that arts will reconciliate peoples driven against each other by the war. They believed in the healing power of arts and in the power to give back identity and self-esteem to the individuals, but also to a whole country. A festival as a peace project – this idea was also heavily supported by You, the Americans.

General Clark, Commander to the American Forces in Austria made an Austria post-war miracle come true: He called back Henry Puthon, the former president of Salzburg Festival, who was chased away by the Nazis and encouraged him to hold the festival not even three months after the U.S. troops had entered and taken over the ruins left behind by the air raids. And he chose the opening ceremony on 12th August 1945 for this first public appearance.

‘I am convinced that this timely introduction of your Festival is evidence that the common efforts of the Austrian people and the United Nations to restore a free, independent Austria will soon succeed.’

Clark was right. The Salzburg Festival and you, the journalistic family of Musical America share the belief in the power of the arts. Especially nowadays, we have a big chance, but also a huge responsibility.”

Helga Rabl-Stadler

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