To Timeline
Show all


The Salzburg Festival had become the cultural hub attracting the best stage directors and conductors, actors, actresses and singers of their era – names like Bruno Walter, Clemens Krauss and Fritz Busch, Lothar Wallerstein and Rudolf Hartmann, Alexander Moissi, Werner Krauss and Helene Thimig, Lotte Lehmann, Richard Mayr, Helge Roswaenge and Richard Tauber are inseparably linked to the founding years of the Festival. But the climax of the Great Depression and Hitler’s seizure of power in Germany in 1933 threatened a new phase of adversity.

The implementation of the 1,000-mark limit meant that many German Festival visitors stayed away, which nonetheless could soon be compensated for by increasing numbers of visitors from other European countries and the USA. Furthermore, the Reich Government of Germany tried to prevent prominent artists appearing in Salzburg.

In this tense atmosphere, Max Reinhardt succeeded in writing Festival history yet again with his Faust production in the Felsenreitschule/Summer Riding School. From 1934 onwards, Arturo Toscanini created furore as well and attracted more of the international public. In summer 1937, Salzburg was one last time a ‘place of pilgrimage for the arts in Europe’ (Stefan Zweig).

The ‘Anschluss’ (annexation) in March 1938 saw the Nazis succeeding in their long prepared ambition of uniting Austria with the ‘Third Reich’. This led as well to the climax of political cleansing, enforced conformity in terms of Nazi ideology, and the persecution of the Jewish population. Many artists who had dominated the Festival in previous years – including Max Reinhardt, Bruno Walter and Arturo Toscanini – were no longer permitted (or did not wish) to perform here. The works of the Festival founder Hugo von Hofmannsthal, first and foremost Jedermann/Everyman – but not the Strauss operas with Hofmannsthal’s libretti – were likewise banned from the programme as was Reinhardt’s Faust, which was replaced with Egmont. The musical programme was retained for the most part, but differed in being cast anew. The most prominent example was Karl Böhm, who celebrated his début in Salzburg with Don Giovanni in 1938.

Nevertheless, Salzburg was no longer the stage for an international public. In ­order to replace the foreign guests, who were mainly absent, thousands of Germans in the ‘Kraft durch Freude’ (‘Strength through Joy’) programme were brought to the Festival. The Festival Hall extension planned by Clemens Holzmeister in 1937 was adapted by the Reich’s official set designer Benno von Arent with a remodelled version compliant with the new ideology. In 1939, Hitler visited the Festival.