84-Year Old Salzburg Festival Appoints New Artistic Director

News   84-Year Old Salzburg Festival Appoints New Artistic Director
One of Austria's oldest and largest multi-faceted arts gatherings, The Salzburg Festival, announced the appointment of their new artistic director on Aug. 30.
Juergen Flimm
Juergen Flimm

Juergen Flimm, a well-known German director, has been given the position, with official duties to begin Oct. 1, 2006.

Flimm has worked throughout the German theatrical landscape in various positions during a career that has spanned nearly forty years. Beginning in 1968, Flimm held the position of assistant director at Munich's Kammerspiele. He went on to direct productions at theaters in Hamburg, Munich, Mannheim and Frankfurt during the 1970's and served as Director of the Schauspiel in Cologne from 1979-1985. From 1985-2000 he served in the same capacity at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg.

Following in the footsteps of Max Reinhardt, one of the founders of the Salzburg Festival and perhaps the most recognizable German director to American audiences, Flimm has worked not only in the theatre, but also in film and television. His films include “Turandot” (1975), “The Birthday Party” (1978), “Civil Wars” (1984), and “Through Roses” (1996). Since 2002, he has overseen the Salzburg Festival's drama section, which usually consists of five full-scale productions that are each performed ten times throughout the course of the month-long event, as well as a Young Director's Project.

The Salzburg Festival itself had a very auspicious beginning in the somewhat tumultuous post-World War I years of Europe. The earliest ideas for the festival came about in 1917, one year before the Great War ended in German defeat, when Reinhardt submitted a proposal to create the festival. It was not until 1919 that poet and dramatist Hugo von Hofmannsthal drafted an outline of the festival's ideals, and only after Reinhardt and Hofmannsthal were joined by composer Richard Strauss, set designer Alfred Roller, and conductor Franz Schalk that the festival came into fruition in 1920.

Since that time the festival has continued presenting works in three sections: Opera, Drama, and Concerts. Despite being taken over by the Third Reich and turned into an artistic propaganda machine during the Nazi occupation, a time in which all the founders were no longer welcome to participate and their works were struck from the repertoire, the festival has not missed a year since it's founding. In addition to Flimm, the festival committee announced that it has approved Flimm's request that Peter Schmidl, currently manager and solo clarinetist of the Vienna Philharmonic, be appointed as director of the Salzburg Festival's concert program. Flimm's contract will expire on Oct. 30, 2011, but may be renewed prior to its expiration. The former artistic director Peter Ruzicka chose not to renew his contract, prompting the hiring of Flimm.

In 2005 the drama section of the Salzburg Festival, which will run July 24 - Aug. 31, will include a revival of the play Everyman by festival co-founder Hofmannsthal (revised by Martin Kusej). Everyman became the first performance of the Salzburg Festival when a production directed by fellow co-founder Reinhardt opened on Aug. 22, 1920 on the steps of Cathedral Square in Salzburg. The drama section will be rounded out with productions of Odon von Horvath's Stories from the Viennese Forest, directed by Barbara Frey; Franz Grillparzer's King Ottokar's Luck and End, directed by Martin Kusej; and Heinrich von Kleist's Penthesilea, directed by Stephan Kimmig.

For more information, please visit the festival's extensive website by clicking here.

The original production of Hugo von Hofmannsthal's <i>Everyman</i> in 1920
The original production of Hugo von Hofmannsthal's Everyman in 1920 Photo by Ellinger
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