The Salzburg Easter Festival was founded in 1967 by Herbert von Karajan. It lasts for ten days from the Saturday before Palm Sunday to Easter Monday itself, offering a high-quality programme of opera, orchestral and choral concerts, chamber music and additional events. With a new direction given by Nikolaus Bachler in 2023, the programme was expanded to include the genres of dance and electronic music.

A Unique Constellation

From 1967 to 2012, the Berliner Philharmoniker and its respective chief conductors were at the heart of the Easter Festival. Herbert von Karajan established the Salzburg Easter Festival as the only place in the world where the Berliner Philharmoniker accompanied a scenic opera production from the pit. From the very start, international guests streamed to Salzburg in order to experience this exclusive constellation with the Berliner Philharmoniker, along with the orchestral and choral concerts.

Sir Georg Solti - Claudio Abbado - Sir Simon Rattle

After Herbert von Karajan’s death in 1989 and an “interregnum” of two years, Sir Georg Solti assumed the artistic direction of the Festival in 1992 and 1993. In 1994, Claudio Abbado was appointed Artistic Director of the Salzburg Easter Festival, five years after having been appointed as Herbert von Karajan’s successor as Chief Conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker. Abbado founded the chamber music series Kontrapunkte at the Festival, where members of the Berliner Philharmoniker and renowned soloists could be heard as chamber musicians. Sir Simon Rattle was appointed Claudio Abbado’s successor at the orchestra and the Salzburg Easter Festival in 2003, and he was the Festival’s Artistic Director until and including 2012.

A New Beginning in 2013 with Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden

From 2013 until 2022, the Salzburg Easter Festival has been on a new artistic footing: Christian Thielemann has been the Festival’s Artistic Director and the Staatskapelle Dresden was the new orchestra in residence. With Christian Thielemann as Artistic Director, the Easter Festival has enjoyed a brilliant renaissance at the highest artistic level while at the same time continuing the tradition whereby an exceptional, leading artistic personality is at the heart of the Festival, along with the orchestra that he conducts. There is a very special sense of having come full circle, not least because Christian Thielemann began his career as Herbert von Karajan’s musical assistant.

A New Direction For The Salzburg Easter Festival in 2023

With his first programme as the Artistic Director of the Salzburg Easter Festival, Nikolaus Bachler is announcing a new path for this festival that is so steeped in tradition. From 2023 onwards, a different top-class orchestra each year will come with its chief conductor to give guest performances in Salzburg, bringing its own unique sound culture to the Easter Festival. The first guest ensemble will be the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, conducted by Andris Nelsons. The focus of the 2023 Easter Festival will be the Leipzig-born composer Richard Wagner, and it will include a new staging of Romeo Castellucci’s production of »Tannhäuser« and the world premiere of »Träume« [»Dreams«], by the choreographer Emanuel Gat.

»The world of Richard Wagner, the most radical innovator in music history, is both a starting point and a laboratory. We shall be exploring his extraordinary view of the world in opera, in concerts, in dance and even in electronic music. I am extraordinarily pleased that we will be setting out on this new path in 2023 with Andris Nelsons at the helm of the Gewandhaus Orchestra – the oldest public symphony orchestra in the world, and one of the most remarkable orchestras of our time.« – Nikolaus Bachler