Opening of the Salzburg Festival: "Culture as a Counter Model to Barbarism"

More+Events ♦ Published: July 27, 2022; 10:01 ♦ (Vindobona)

The Salzburg Festival has been ceremoniously opened. In addition to rousing speakers such as author Ilija Trojanow and Festival President Kristina Hammer, the Austrian Federal President also appealed to the unity of Europe.

Alexander Van der Bellen at the opening of the Salzburg Festival. / Picture: © / Carina Karlovits / HBF

The Salzburg Festival has been ceremoniously opened. They mark the start of one of the most important cultural festivals in the world. Before the traditional ceremony in the Großes Festspielhaus, Austria's Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen was received in the provincial capital with military honours, who in his subsequent speech drew attention to the danger facing European values and our way of life.

The President was received by a guard of honour from the Austrian Armed Forces. The backdrop of the baroque town square in combination with the military honours was a perfect start for the opening ceremony.

Many spectators - locals and tourists - did not want to miss this event at Salzburg's Residenzplatz and listened to the military music performed. The opening was celebrated symbolically, as the artistic programme had already begun more than a week ago with the revival premiere of "Jedermann".

Festive speech by Ilija Trojanow

The honour of keynote speaker was given to the Vienna-based author Ilija Trojanow. In his political speech, he reflected on the complex relationship between power and art: "Since the outbreak of war, we have been speaking the language of war. Answering every question with a decisive yes or no."

In this way of thinking, the many shades and different perceptions are lost - the world is not black or white. Trojanow contrasted this with the "diversity of art" in his morning speech at the opening of the Salzburg Festival.

Emotional words of the Federal President

Federal President Van der Bellen also had the honour of giving a speech. In it, as so often in recent months, he alluded to the war of aggression in Ukraine and condemned the actions of the Russian president: "our freedom and the entire model of our coexistence are being severely tested right now. Our democracy is under attack. With high aggression and destructive fury. We have another war in Europe. Women, men, children, families are being killed."

He also criticised the blue-eyed politicians of Europe, himself included, who had failed to see the looming danger and allowed themselves to be lured into a dependency by cheap Russian gas: "We didn't see it. Or did we not want to see it? Maybe because it was convenient?"

In his speech, he insisted on the unity of Europe and the strength that an organisation of over 450 million people could exert. He said he was convinced of the creativity and determination of the European Union and hoped for a change in thinking in the future. He concluded with conciliatory words for the future.

"I said recently that in these dark times, the stars of Europe are shining brighter than ever. I am convinced of that. These stars are human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, respect for minority rights. And solidarity", he said.

Presidential Chancellery of Austria