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Centenary Events

100 years young was to be the guiding motto for a packed programme of celebrations to mark the centenary of the Salzburg Festival in summer 2020. However, the pandemic intervened and led to the most momentous challenge that has faced our society since the end of World War II. Never before has cultural life been so severely restricted in democratic countries during times of peace. In light of the crisis, the Festival took the decision to realize a modified and shortened version of the centenary programme. As it did in its inaugural season 100 years ago, the Festival was able to set another bold example for the arts. The projects that could not take place in the 2020 centenary will now be realized in summer 2021 — thereby extending the Festival’s centennial season until autumn 2021.

Salzburg City

Salzburg Festival Opening Party

The traditional celebration in the magnificent setting of Salzburg’s old town, which was postponed last year, will now again be held at the beginning of the 2021 Salzburg Festival. In our Festival venues, in the churches and on the city squares, artists will entice onlookers to watch and listen.

Altstadt Salzburg · 18 July 2021

Tickets available free of charge from 3 July in the Salzburg Festival SHOP · TICKETS, Hofstallgasse 1


Speeches about the century

From the beginning, the Salzburg Festival had an extraordinary mission: to create meaning in times of crisis. The Festival’s 2021 programme will again feature lectures about the century, devoted to exploring the question of whether the belief in the power of the arts — of which our founding fathers were convinced — still endows the Festival with meaning in our changed times. In doing so, the lectures will invoke the world of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

The participants and the 2021 dates will be announced later.

Watch the Speeches about the century 2020 stream here. The streams are available in German only.


Theater in the cinema

Theater in the cinema — a journey through the filmmaking world of the Festival’s co-founder Max Reinhardt as well as the family of his wife Helene Thimig — began in summer 2020 and will be continued in August 2021. A wonderful opportunity to rediscover cinematic history from 1910 onwards and Reinhardt’s key actors.

July /August 2021 · In cooperation with the Filmarchiv Austria

Remembering Festival Stories

Festival Dialogues

‘More than ever before, putting on a festival in the 21st century means confronting the realities of a rapidly changing world.’ — A special edition of the Festival Dialogues (in memoriam Michael Fischer) will be revived on the occasion of our centenary, providing critical discussion about the phenomenon of the Festival and exploring the question of whether theatre can still be a utopian place and the arts a counterpoint
to crisis.

Location to be announced later · 26 and 27 August 2021

Art & Ethos

Panel Discussion

In light of its centenary, the Salzburg Festival engaged with the ongoing debate about the painter and graphic artist Poldi Wojtek. In 1928, Wojtek designed an emblem for the Salzburg Festival that has since — with the exception of the Nazi era — served as the Festival’s logo. The tension between the moral responsibility of artists and the artistic merit of their work is forcefully illustrated by the figure of Poldi Wojtek, who later ingratiated herself with the Nazi regime. In a panel discussion we want to drive forward the extensive debate about how artworks of high aesthetic quality by politically questionable artists should be evaluated.

Grosse Universitätsaula · 12 August 2021
The participants will be announced later

In memoriam Gerard Mortier

Mortier Award

The Mortier Award for music theatre and the Mortier Next Generation Award were established to draw inspiration for music theatre’s present and future from the legacy of Gerard Mortier, the opera and festival administrator who died in 2014. The award honours figures who, like Mortier, pursue a historically informed and interdisciplinary approach to renewing the art form of opera for today’s world. Previous recipients of the Award include Gerard Mortier himself and Markus Hinterhäuser. The Mortier Next Generation Award was first presented in 2019 and will be sponsored by the Friends of the Salzburg Festival in 2021. On the occasion of its centenary, the Salzburg Festival — where many ideas promoted during Gerard Mortier’s artistic directorship (1991—2001) are still relevant today — and the ‘Friends’ Association are supporting the Mortier
Awards and will name the next laureates as part of the Festival’s 2021 programme.

The award winners and the place and date of the ceremony will be announced later.

Artistic Interventions on Festival Theatres Never Built

The Dream of a Fairytale Temple

Numerous plans for a festival theatre were mooted over the last 130 years and went unrealized. For the centenary of the Salzburg Festival, four of these unbuilt architectural designs were made visible in public spaces. Three of these artistic projects can be experienced and explored until the end of August 2021: Esther Stocker’s Three-Part Wrinkle Sculpture, conceived for the Mönchsberg; Werner Feiersinger’s Panel, 2019/20, an installation for the Kapuzinerberg; and Isa Rosenberger’s Portal Frame, created for the Mirabellgarten. The projects document how the festival theatres would have made their mark on the city or its surrounding countryside.
(Concept: Norbert Mayr)

Mönchsberg, Kapuzinerberg, Mirabellgarten
until End of August 2021

The Salzburg Festival Centenary · State Exhibition

Great World Theatre

The state exhibition Great World Theatre — 100 Years of the Salzburg Festival can be visited until the end of October 2021. The rich history of the Salzburg Festival and its artists — shown through video and audio material, letters, photos, costumes and stage props — is on display in the Neue Residenz. We have brought our archives to life and aim to engage visitors with artistic interventions, acted-out stories, film screenings and much more.
The festival ticket is valid as a ticket for the state exhibition.

26 July 2020 to 31 October 2021, State Exhibition at the Salzburg Museum – Neue Residenz

A Dialogue with the Visual Arts

The Centenary Poster Series of the Salzburg Festival

A poster series commemorating the Salzburg Festival’s centenary can be viewed since Friday and through the end of August on the Makartsteg bridge in Salzburg. Five international artists with a close connection to the Salzburg Festival have designed one poster each, exploring the founding idea of the Festival. “To awaken the ear, the eyes, human thought and intelligence,” this quote by the composer Luigi Nono could be called an imaginary inscription on the posters. The Spanish sculptor and artist Jaume Plensa, the German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer, the American stage director, playwright, painter, lighting designer, stage designer, video artist and architect Robert Wilson, the South African artist William Kentridge and the Austrian artist Eva Schlegel have each designed one poster.

The Salzburg Festival has always had a strong connection with the visual arts. This dialogue between the dramatic and the visual arts was continuously intensified from the 1950s onwards. Suffice it to mention Die Zauberflöte of 1955, to which Oskar Kokoschka contributed the set designs. Fritz Wotruba designed the sets for Oedipus in 1965. Jean Tinguely and Jean-Paul Chambas also designed major productions for the Salzburg Festival. Under the artistic leadership of Gerard Mortier, this dialogue with the visual arts grew even more intense, including Achim Freyer, Jörg Immendorff and Bob Wilson – and it continues to contribute to the dialogue of the arts to this day: Daniel Richter, Jonathan Meese, Rebecca Horn, Alfred Hrdlicka, Shirin Neshat and William Kentridge are only a few of the luminaries involved. Therefore, the idea of inviting outstanding artists to design posters for the Festival’s centenary suggested itself.

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