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A memento of Salzburg’s forlorn reformer

The Telegraph is the first English-language newspaper to publish an obituary of Hans Landesmann, the Vienna businessman who did his best to cleanse the Salzburg stables after the 30-year Herbert von Karajan regime.

We mention the publication for two reasons: it uses a unique picture (below) of two fine men on the ramparts conversing in Hungarian; and it notifies us of the death, a month earlier, of Elaine Landesmann, Hans’s gentle and charming life partner. May they rest in peace.


Hans Landesmann with György Ligeti, Salzburg, August 1993. photo (c) Marion Kalter/Lebrecht Music&Arts


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  1. What do you mean by ‘cleanse the Salzburg stables’ ? With all due respect to Hans Landesmann how do you credit policy decisions between Landesmann, who was the concerts and business manager and Gerard Mortier who was Intendant ?

    • Landesmann was appointed first. It was he who recommended Gerard for the intendant role. They worked well together at the outset, then fell out.

      • Peter Ramsauer says:

        to set the record straight: Landesmann was the instrumental member of the search committee (Findungskommission) that proposed the appointment of Mortier to the Festival’s board. Consecutively the same committee ( with Landesmann as member) proposed Landesmann’s appointment.

  2. Thank you but you didn’t answer either question. Their ‘falling out’ as I remember didn’t happen until Mortier’s penultimate year as intendant.

    • I did. Hans did the groundwork, cleared out the HvK crowd, brought in new corporate sponsors, started the engagement with contemporary music, all while Gerard was still feeling his way in.

  3. From what of seen of the nonsense productions of Mozart that have come out of Salzburg in recent years, the stables could do with another cleansing.

  4. Thank you for sharing this, Norman. And for your lovely description of the American-born Elaine Landesmann. Their memories are for a blessing.

  5. Well said, DavisA. The grotesque productions of the wretched Klaus Guth have disastrously sullied Salzburg’s reputation. Time for a return to the traditional way of doing things.

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