La Scena Musicale

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Salzburg Easter Festival's financial scandal woes

By Frank Cadenhead

The financial scandal at the Salzburg Easter Festival, just before its opening, has been a huge story in Austria for the last two weeks. Screaming headlines and stories of stolen donations suggest a long term mismanagement of the financial affairs of the legendary festival founded by Herbert von Karajan in 1967.

Oddly, the news has remained largely in the German press, although the problems with the Easter Festival are certain to be linked with the summer festival. The staff and headquarters of the two festivals are are in the same building. The high ticket prices and wealthy supporters provide the bulk of the income for the two festivals but the Austrian government does also provide substantial support. 

The suggestions of long-running embezzlement, which might exceed two million euros, will very likely seriously damage not only the prestige but the financial base of this legendary festival. And the investigatory audit is still ongoing.

In a few weeks Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic will be presenting Wagner's final Ring epic, Die Götterdämmerung. One hopes that the festival has not been so damaged that its future is in question.

The best summary in English of the staggering story was published yesterday in the UK's Independent.

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