In December 1946 Tobi Reiser, gifted musician, singer and cultivator of austrian folk culture, assembled friends and acquaintances for the first time to a common Advent-Singing and Music-making. About 40 listeners come together in the unheated rooms...
70 years ago, an idea was born of a longing and hope for a better, more peaceful world. This wish and idea that first came to Tobi Reiser (1907-1974) was followed by the birth of the Salzburg Advent Festival, when singers and instrumentalists joined together on a cold night during Advent of 1946 to commemorate fallen or missing friends in song. It was a quiet, devout ceremony, sustained by familiar songs and tunes, popular religious faith and traditions handed down from one generation to the next. Who would have thought then that this little memorial would become the seed of innumerable “Advent festivals of song” throughout the German-speaking countries?
The innermost core of the Salzburg Advent Festival is the eternal longing of mankind for harmony and peace. Even if the beginning in 1946 seems long ago, the intention of the founders has not been lost. The religious message, interwoven with elements of folk culture and current thought, still allows a very special atmosphere of fascination and retrospection to arise which one can only experience at the Salzburg Advent Festival at the Großes Festspielhaus. Anyone coming to the story with an open heart will experience a touching event, will laugh heartily at the childish charm of the shepherd boys and cry tears of joy at the devout yodelling.
Despite the fact that about 1.8 million enthusiastic guests have attended this world-famous Salzburg Advent Festival since 1946, and the fact that 36,000 visitors from 38 countries are added to that figure every year, this cultural event at the Großes Festspielhaus retains a particularly intimate air of noble reticence. “Anyone who has attended once keeps coming back,” say regular guests, many of whom are also members of the “Friends of the Salzburg Advent Festival”. When more than two thousand guests rise from their seats at the end of a performance, singing the devotional yodeller together with about one hundred fifty performers, the energy generated by such a large community becomes palpable.