A memento of Salzburg’s forlorn reformer

A memento of Salzburg’s forlorn reformer


norman lebrecht

October 01, 2013

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



  • Hasbeen says:

    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.

  • Hasbeen says:

    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.

  • DavisA says:

    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.

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

  • Tradfan says:

    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.