All things Austrian-American since 1948

INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT HELGA RABL-STADLER
 
By Prof. Dr. Cecelia H. Porter    (14 November 2013)

On 14 November, President Helga Rabl-Stadler offered an audience at the Embassy of Austria a fascinating look at the Salzburg Festival for 2014, especially of interest to Americans, who, she emphasized, “helped Salzburg so much in the terrible aftermath and consequences of World War Two.” She continued her thoughtful presentation, describing the festival’s underlying purpose: “This historic annual event,” she said, “essentially was created  to assure the world that art must be founded on passion, on an all-embracing love of artistic creation.”
 
(In a remarkable coincidence of broad idealisms, Vienna’s Konzerthaus is celebrating its centenary, emphasizing its original wide-reaching purpose: “Eine Staette zu sein fuer die Pflege edler Musik, ein Sammelpunkt kuenstlerischer Bestrebungen, ein Haus fuer Musik und ein Haus fuer Wien,” as quoted recently in the Oesterreichische Musik Zeitschrift, Jg. 68/2013, Heft 5, S.3.) 
 
Rabl-Stadler then commented, “While many people around the globe do recognize that the Salzburg Festival brings world-class opera every year to the public, most of them remain unaware of the city’s broad span of cultural offerings—from a city that is one of the cultural capitals of the world.” “Salzburg, of course is opera,” Rabl-Stadler noted. “Yet countless other valuable arts events are also presented there. Naturally, I can’t name them all.” “Besides some of the brilliant jewels of the operatic repertoire such as Der Rosenkavalier and Project Tristan und Isolde,” Rabl-Stadler remarked, “Marc-André Dalbavie’s moving Charlotte Salomon will be performed this summer.” She then turned to the dramatic offerings for 2014, including, as expected, Hugo von Hoffmannsthal’s Jedermann, and also Oedoen von Horváth’s Don Juan Kommt aus dem Krieg and Duncan Macmillan’s The Forbidden Zone. “But that’s not all,” she went on to say, “because the Wiener Philharmoniker will perform all of Anton Bruckner’s nine symphonies.” 
 
I then asked Rabl-Stadler, “What message would you emphasize specifically to broaden the scope of audiences, especially through youth programs?” The President pointed out that “not only directly from Salzburg, but also all over Austria, there are musical events related to the festival that are presented to school children, as the audiences of the future. To me, this is perhaps one of the most important channels of communication we have to keep the arts alive.” “For our outreach to young people, just to point out the top of the list,” Rable-Stadler noted, “we have the “Special Appearance of the Vienna Philharmonic with Young Woodwind and Brass Talents” program, now in its ninth year. That is a unique opportunity for young up-and-coming artists not commonly found at other worldwide music festivals.”
 
 
Prof. Dr. Porter, eine Musikwissenschaftlerin, is a longtime contributing classical music critic for The Washington Post  and the author of two books on music. She also received the Golden Cross of the Republic of Austria in 2007 for her support of Austrian musical culture.