Salzburg in chaos over Mozarteum chief

Salzburg in chaos over Mozarteum chief


norman lebrecht

July 11, 2017

The new rector of the Mozarteum Salzburg has resigned before starting the job. Reiner Schuhenn, 55, said he was leaving immediately after the University council refused to endorse his new team.

This is the third failed attempt to instal a new rector after the previous choice, Siegfried Mauser, was convicted of sex offences in Munich.

Qualifications for the job: Speaks German, reads music, takes orders.


  • Applestrudelwithwhippedcream says:

    The Mozarteum is now only ranked 36th place in the world in the performing arts section .
    After employing the convicted sex offender Siegfried Mauser from Munich ( he was director there previous to his Salzburg appointment ) and endless infighting it seems the school can’t get its affairs sorted out.
    Eminent Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard mentioned once about Salzburg:
    “…the sworn enemy of all art, a cretinous provincial dump with stupid people and cold walls where everything without exception is eventually made cretinous”.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Apparently, Bernhard’s plays are not very popular in Salzburg.

    • Sachertorte says:

      Apfel strudel should be eaten with vanilla sauce!

      Everything post H v K has dropped in quality to be expected since the age of the maestro dictator is over.

  • erich says:

    An extraordinary tale of serial incompetence and party political machinations. The fault lies mainly in the fact that largely the same people – mostly linked to the state governor – wield the power over Salzburg cultural appointments. Most of them have little or no knowledge of culture and thus take decisions which suit their own purposes rather than the institutions as a whole.

    • John Borstlap says:

      A structural problem where cultural institutions are subsidized by the state.

      • Bill says:

        Perhaps, but it is not like absence of those state subsidies necessarily leads to the absence of idiots in the decision-making…

        • John Borstlap says:

          No, but in towns / cities where government officials have a certain level of cultural awareness, as often in – let’s guess – Germany, abberations are mostly avoided. For instance, when a new director of a theatre in Munich has to be appointed, the choice is the direct personal responsibility of the alderman, at the city council, who has been appointed specifically for culture. If it turns-out to be a ‘wrong choice’ (always contested; who is to say?), he / she may lose his / her position, so all politicians fulfilling that job make sure they know something of culture, it is an existential requirement. How does he / she appoint such new man at the theatre? He / she explores the opinions of as many advisers as possible, and he / she/ will circulate in the appropriate circles to pick-up something of the mood of the connoisseurs, he / she reads the reviews in the newspapers and magazines, and then a list is drawn-up with candidates who will be contacted. The alderman carries authority plus responsibility and is personally accountable. It seems – in general – work quite well. The Salzburg problem is surprising since in Austria comparable procedures are operating, as far as I am told…. maybe it is merely a clash of personalities working-out badly.

          • Slugger O'Toole says:

            We have a far simpler appointments system here in Ireland, if you are related to a TD, Councillor or Senator you will always get that job. We say, “the Uncle John had it all fixed up” . The old maxim, the job went to the “best candidate” rings true every time.

      • Steve P says:

        Are you coming over to the dark side, John? You’re beginning to sound like me (although your choice of words is much finer)

  • Peter Heinzler says:

    The Mozarteum has long lost its shine in many areas. Subjects like piano eg have produced nothing but mediocrity in recent years if not decades, which is hardly surprising when you look at their list of teachers in that department, many of them no name musicians with little or no careers.
    Singing and cello depend on 2 names ( Clemens Hagen and Wolfgang Holzmair ) which come to the rescue of an otherwise middle of the road institution that seems to get his reputation almost solely now from the ‘Salzburg effect’ ( the 2 International festivals and Mozart’s birthplace being the major drawing card.)
    The dubious appointment of sex offender Siegfried Mauser was just symptomatic for an institution that has lost its course, but the Mozarteum will of course always have enough students as there are practically no student fees and the tax payer pays for it all.

    • Thulliez says:

      As once with Stefan Zweig , Salzburg continues to be quite inspiring, artwise.

      • John Borstlap says:

        I had a fantastic summer master course for the piano in the seventies at the Mozarteum, given by Carlo Zecchi, a fabulous pianist with an overbearing matrone as PA. It seems that at that time, the institution was top notch (although the student hostel was quite internationally promiscuous).

  • AndrewB says:

    Having participated in the festival and in many concerts in Salzburg ( Felsenreitschule, Cathedral and the great hall of the Mozarteum itself) I certainly wouldn’t describe it as a ‘ cretinous provincial dump!’ I was able to see and hear some first rate productions and music making there.
    The question of the Mozarteum itself as an educational establishment is a tougher issue. Leadership is key to success , but when the ( now former) Rector has been accused/ convicted and with no new leader in sight any institution would suffer.
    Also I would not necessarily agree as has been suggested in another comment that a lack of big names on the teaching list implies less good teaching standards.
    It has been the habit in many conservatoires for some time now to focus on getting the best teachers , irrespective of whether they have had great careers or not. Famous names then supplement the regular teaching of the conservatoire staff with masterclasses or repertoire/ interpretation classes and such titles as ‘ Chair of studies.’
    This approach has tackled tricky problems such as the famous performer who takes on a teaching post , but doesn’t deliver the student’s regular lessons because they are still too busy with their own career. Also not all famous performers are good teachers I’m afraid. So even if a list of famous names attracts potential students it is no guarantee of a good result for the student’s education in the end.
    I hope that the Mozarteum comes through any difficulties and into a bright future.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Indeed there is a great difference between cultivating a performance career and teaching, which is an art in itself, but performance experience is also crucial to be able to teach well.