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After the war broke out, the Festival programme was considerably reduced; in 1940, only a torso remained with a concert cycle given by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. On 1 April 1942, the Salzburg Festival Theatre Association was liquidated and Clemens Krauss entrusted with the office of General Artistic Director (General­intendant). The performances were now mainly attended by soldiers either on ­furlough or wounded, and workers from ammunition factories.

In 1943, the propaganda ministry forbade the title ‘Festspiele’ (Festival) and introduced instead the ‘Salzburg Theatre and Music Summer’. After the failed bomb attack on Hitler on 20 July 1944 and the subsequent decree of waging ‘total war’, propaganda minister Goebbels ordered all festivals in the German Reich to be cancelled. In Salzburg in 1944, performances included only one orchestra concert and the dress rehearsal of Richard Strauss’s latest opera Die Liebe der Danae/The Love of Danae. Among the artists who kept the Festival going under the shadow of the swastika were Clemens Krauss, and also his fellow conductors Karl Böhm and Hans Knappertsbusch.

After the war, there were immediate endeavours to revive the Festival. The impulse was given by the American Army of Occupation. Only three months after the end of the war, a Festival was held once more in summer 1945. Similar to the turn of the times of 1918/20, in 1945, too, a pivotal role was played by harking back to the ideas of the founding fathers of bonding nations together and of committing to a new Austrian identity for Salzburg. But the leading artists of that time had been exiled or had perished. The conductors engaged were Hans Swarowsky, Felix Prohaska, John Barbirolli, Charles Munch and Carl Schuricht – for after the denazification processes, artists such as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Karl Böhm, Clemens Krauss and Herbert von ­Karajan were prohibited from performing until 1947/48.

In 1946, Hofmannsthal’s Jedermann/Everyman made a comeback, and also the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Likewise in 1946, Oscar Fritz Schuh was engaged for the first time as stage director; he set contemporary accents in the repertoire of the following years. In 1948, Gottfried von Einem became a member of the ­Festival’s Board of Directors and Ernst Lothar head of straight drama. And finally a man stepped into the limelight whose name for many is inseparably linked to the Salzburg Festival: Herbert von Karajan, who in 1948 directed an opera production at the ­Fest­ival for the first time, Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice.

Besides the caesuras analogous to the upheavals of the time, the new start of the Salzburg Festival manifests many continuities in personnel and contents.