Jewish Museum Vienna Opens “Jedermann's Jews. 100 Years of the Salzburg Festival.”

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The Jewish Museum Vienna is now displaying an exhibition entitled “Jedermann's Jews. 100 Years of the Salzburg Festival.” The exhibition provides a wonderful look at the Jewish Community's contributions to the world's most important festival of classical music and the performing arts. Read more about the exhibition and the history behind it.

A view of “Jedermann's Jews. 100 years of the Salzburg Festival." / Picture: © Magistrat der Stadt Wien / PID / Barbara Nidetzky

Until November 21, 2021, the Jewish Museum Vienna is displaying a retrospective of 100 years of the Salzburg Festival and Jewish participation in the world's most important festival of classical music and the performing arts. The exhibition is entitled “Jedermann’s Jews. 100 Years of the Salzburg Festival.”

A city as a stage

One hundred years ago, the theater producer and visionary Max Reinhardt joined forces with writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal to realize his vision for Salzburg. They declared the city a stage, and Salzburg became the epitome of innovative theater on open-air stages, music in absolute perfection and dance as an expression of the avant-garde. Jewish artists played a decisive role in this success until the Nazi regime took power in 1938. Today, it is important to bring them back before the curtain. At the center of the exhibition are some never-before-seen objects from the estate of Max Reinhardt, as well as a wide variety of artworks, tracing the rise of the Festival to the present day and the lives of the various people involved, their careers and escape routes.

The Salzburg Great World Theater

The first phase of the Salzburg Festival, from 1920 to 1925, was marked by Hofmannsthal's plays Jedermann and The Salzburg Great World Theater, written in the spirit of Catholic redemption. Reinhardt staged the latter in the Collegiate Church in 1922, which caused a scandal as he was accused of desecrating the sacred space. While Karl Vollmoeller's staged pantomime The Miracle filled huge halls in Reinhardt's productions in London and New York, the Salzburg adaptation was rather modest.

The festival experienced its heyday from 1926 to 1933: in order to attract a wider audience, Max Reinhardt staged comedies such as Goldoni's Servants of Two Masters and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, which playfully integrated music and dance. At the same time, it was apparent that although actors of Jewish origin were represented, the few stars who enjoyed working with Reinhardt in other places were not among them.

After the completion of the Festival Hall, far more extravagant opera productions could be realized. The architect Oscar Strnad was a visionary stage designer, and Bruno Walter was a world-class conductor who had begun his career with Gustav Mahler. His brother-in-law was Arnold Rosé, concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, which performed annually in Salzburg. Not only did the costumes and the sets come from the Vienna State Opera but also the protagonists. The famous Jewish voices at the opera were female: Rosette Anday, Claire Born, Elisabeth Schumann and others were among the stars of their time.

In 1928, the Leningrad Opera Workshop gave a guest performance with three Mozart opera productions, accompanied by anti-communist protests; Tilly Losch performed her Dance of the Hands; Hofmannsthal's dance pantomime The Green Flute shone with futuristic costumes. Choreographer Margarete Wallmann impressed many with her productions on the ballet stage.

The posters for 1938 with stars Toscanini and Reinhardt had already been printed, but, after the invasion of German troops, the long-repressed rage of the local Nazis was unleashed in martial actions: The synagogue and the few Jewish stores in Salzburg were vandalized. On April 30, 1938, the only book burning in Austria's history took place at Salzburg's Residenzplatz. Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, however, had the problem that he now wanted to take over and reshape an institution that he had fought tooth and nail for years. Catholic programs such as Jedermann and church music were canceled, and the Jewish protagonists had long since been arrested or fled. After the beginning of the war, the production visibly lost its opulence; in the end, it was performed almost exclusively for soldiers on home leave.

The Salzburg Post-War Festival

The American occupation forces had set up their headquarters in Salzburg in 1945 and sought a rapid normalization of civilian life. Once again, the Festival provided an international backdrop. To ensure the highest level of artistic activity, artists incriminated by their work for the Nazi regime, such as Karl Böhm, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Attila Hörbiger, Herbert von Karajan, Clemens Krauss and Paula Wessely, were re-engaged after a brief ban on appearances. Among the few Jewish protagonists was the actor Ernst Deutsch, who played Death in Jedermann for the next 15 years. The violinist Yehudi Menuhin came for two guest performances to assist the cultural landscape devastated by the Nazi regime. Opera director Herbert Graf celebrated several successful productions and was involved in Clemens Holzmeister's designs for the Great Festival Hall.

ORF-TVthek-Media Archive Judaism

On the occasion of the opening of the exhibition “Jedermann’s Jews. 100 Years of the Salzburg Festival,” ORF's Deputy Director for Technology, Online and New Media, Thomas Prantner, presented the “ORF-TVthek-Media Archive Judaism.” It has existed since 2011, was developed together with the Jewish Museum Vienna, and has been expanded several times since then. Most recently, it was significantly expanded by 27 videos in 2020 and 2021 and now paints a multi-faceted portrait of the Jewish past and present in Austria in a total of 115 videos. On the occasion of the museum's new exhibition, the media archive was also recently expanded to include the documentary “The Artists, the Anti-Semites and the Salzburg Festival.”

Exhibition on display until November 21

“Jedermann’s Jews. 100 Years of the Salzburg Festival” will be on view at the Jewish Museum Vienna, a Wien Holding museum, from July 14 to November 21, 2021. The exhibition is curated by Marcus G. Patka and Sabine Fellner and was designed by Fuhrer, Vienna. The Jewish Museum Vienna, located at Dorotheergasse 11, 1010 Vienna, is open Sunday through Friday from 10:00 to 18:00. The second location, Museum Judenplatz, Judenplatz 8, 1010 Vienna, is open Sunday through Thursday 10:00 to 18:00, Fridays 10:00 to 14:00 (winter hours) and 10:00 to 17:00(summer hours).

The exhibition “Jedermann’s Jews. 100 Years of the Salzburg Festival” was created in cooperation with the Salzburg Festival. Another cooperation is with the Salzburg Museum, at whose invitation the Jewish Museum Vienna designed a room in the provincial exhibition Great World Theater - 100 Years of the Salzburg Festival.

Jewish Museum Vienna

City of Vienna