Philosophy of the Salzburg Easter Festival

Founded by Herbert von Karajan

The Salzburg Easter Festival is considered to be one of the most renowned and most exclusive classical festivals in the world. The festival was founded by Herbert von Karajan in 1967, with the aim of presenting music of the highest artistic quality, and the unconditional claim he made then has been fulfilled ever since, thanks to the cooperation with the Berliner Philharmoniker until 2012 under its successive artistic directors Claudio Abbado and Sir Simon Rattle. Since 2013, Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden lead the festival into a new era, continuing to offer a programme with opera, orchestral and choral concerts as well as chamber music and youth projects at the highest artistic level.


The enterprise philosophy of the Salzburg Easter Festival is to a certain extent directed towards exclusiveness and this is reflected not only in demanding and at the same time appealing programme planning but also by engaging the best possible artists. The structure of the festival’s financial basis also goes back to the founding philosophy. Herbert von Karajan - whose musical assistant Christian Thielemann has been - founded the Salzburg Easter Festival as a private festival so as to have the greatest possible financial and artistic independence in order to fulfil the dream of his own festival. Nowadays the major part of the financial means that are available annually to the Easter Festival still come from private sources (92%). This means that the circle of select sponsors who have been loyal to the festival for many years, and also the exemplary Association of Patrons who come from all over the world have a very special significance. The Association of Patrons of the Salzburg Easter Festival also goes back to the time of Herbert von Karajan, and there are still many cases of membership dating from the founding year of the festival. This testifies not least to the fact that members and patrons are highly appreciative of the family atmosphere and the privilege of identifying themselves with the Easter Festival. The supportive role of members of the Association of Patrons is thereby not limited merely to providing financial support. It is more to do with the fact that the patrons provide a high degree of non-material support which is based on their long-standing years of loyalty.