The Salzburg Festival Digitizes Recording Archives, Releases Online Collection

By Logan Martell

The Salzburg Festival has announced that its archives spanning 80 years is being surveyed and preserved for posterity, with a large part of the collection now available to the public online.

The effort comes in collaboration with the Austrian Media Library of the Vienna Museum of Science and Technology. Recordings have been made of previous Salzburg Festival productions since their 1937 performance of “Falstaff” conducted by Arturo Toscanini, with video recordings starting in the 1980s. Since November 2020, boxes of tapes have been delivered to the Austrian Media Library on VHS, DV, Hi8, and Betacam cassettes; so far 25 terabytes of content have been digitized and archived.

The online collection was launched on October 20, 2021, and currently includes 453 recordings of performances, concerts, discussions, and more. Recordings feature revered conductors such as Toscanini, Herbert von Karajan, Seiji Ozawa, Karl Bohm, Claudio Abbado, and Riccardo Muti, and productions from directors such as Ernst Haeusserman, Peter Stein, George Tabori, and Hans Neuenfels.

“This felicitous cooperation also calls attention to the fact that many analogous treasures are slumbering in the depots of iconic cultural institutions such as the Salzburg Festival,” says Austrian Media Library Director General Peter Aufreiter. “Since historical audio media are threatened with decay, it is a race against time to digitize these documents, which are so important to cultural history, and to preserve this cultural heritage for future generations as well.”