Looking Back – Reinhardt Family Returns to Schloss Leopoldskron




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Oct 31, 2017
by Salzburg Global Seminar
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Looking Back – Reinhardt Family Returns to Schloss Leopoldskron

Former Schloss Leopoldskron owner and theater impresario, Max Reinhardt’s great grandchildren stay at his former home and explore childhood memories Dana and Justin Reinhardt in the Max Reinhardt Library at Schloss Leopoldskron

The Max Reinhardt era represents a significant period in the history of Schloss Leopoldskron. His impact on the building and the park that surrounds it remains visible to the day. After acquiring the Schloss in a dilapidated state in 1918, Reinhardt brought new life into the building and made it a prominent gathering place for theatrical producers, writers, composers, and actors from across the world during the 1920s and 30s. In 1938, the Schloss was confiscated as “Jewish property,” and Reinhardt never returned, dying in exile in New York in 1943. Nearly 80 years later, this September, a writer and composer were once again attracted to come to Schloss Leopoldskron. This time they just also happened to be Max Reinhardt’s great-grandchildren: Dana and Justin Reinhardt.

Sitting in the Great Hall, one of the many rooms renovated by their great-grandfather, Dana and Justin look back fondly on their return to Salzburg and their stay at the palace. Both spent many summers of their childhood in the city while on holiday with their grandparents, Gottfried and Silvia.

“We had a list of things to check off,” says Justin, “to reconnect with memories, places that we used to go when we were children, foods we used to eat. We’ve been working hard every day to check off that list and [Schloss Leopoldskron] has been the ideal base to come back to… even though we’re 100 percent American, it feels like coming home to come back [to Salzburg].”

Dana, now 46, remembers first coming to Salzburg “around 1982,” accompanying her parents, Stephen and Ramona. After turning three years old, she says, “Our parents sent us just to stay with our grandparents who were insistent that we come regularly for a proper education in civilized living.”

Gottfried Reinhardt, Max’s son, and his wife Silvia were thoughtful about the kind of impact they could have on their grandchildren, according to Dana. Not only did they expose them to a different language and culture in Salzburg, they also thought about what the children read, the music they listened to, and the conversation they would have that night at dinner. “That was tremendously enriching,” says Dana.

Justin, now 51, says, “He felt like he was planting seeds for the future and he knew there were certain things that maybe we wouldn’t appreciate fully at the young age we were but that they were going to be important for us later in life, and he was absolutely right.”

At this time, Gottfried had already become well known as an independent producer and director around the world. He produced and directed Town Without Pity (1961) and Situation Hopeless – but Not Serious (1965). In 1979, he wrote a biography of his father called The Genius. Dana remembers him as a playful individual who took humor very seriously. She says, “In the letters we read last night, that was something he talked about… he called it a secret society – the Reinhardt Secret Society – that we understood each other’s jokes, we had all the same timing and sensibility, and we did a lot of laughing that is for sure.”

Their father, the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt is a judge, but it is clear that both Gottfried and Silvia have had a lasting impact on Dana and Justin’s careers. Dana, based in San Francisco, is a celebrated writer having written a number of books, including How to Build a House (2008), The Things a Brother Knows (2010) and Tell Us Something True (2016). Dana says, “Storytelling was really important and I learned to both appreciate a good story and the craft of telling a good story, and it is both entertainment and enrichment.”

Justin, meanwhile, who’s based in Los Angeles, has had a successful career in the music industry, recording on platinum albums and performing live with hip-hop artists such as NWA and Dr. Dre. As a child, he played the piano, something which was encouraged by both his grandparents. Gottfried, in particular, promoted the idea of rigor and discipline and took music appreciation very seriously. Justin says, “He would put on recordings for me and talk about how to listen and what to listen for.”

Despite being regular visitors to Salzburg in their childhood, neither Dana or Justin visited Schloss Leopoldskron but knew it once belonged to their great-grandfather. Justin says, “We saw it, and we drove by. We were aware of it but… we never came inside when we were children. It wasn’t until as adults that we visited and made arrangements to come, and this was before the hotel… It was not an active part of our visits to Salzburg.”

Nevertheless, both were aware of the legacy their great-grandfather left behind, even if they weren’t versed in theater history. From commemorative stamps and coins to the Max-Reinhardt-Platz in the center of town, there were always reminders. Dana says, “We were more aware of it than we might have been because of the time spent here in because in Salzburg the name Reinhardt meant something, and we knew it.”

The first time Dana visited Schloss Leopoldskron was in the summer of 1993. She had been rewarded with a trip to Salzburg after graduating from college, and her grandparents took her to the Schloss. She says, “I had never been inside before, so it was really exciting to me, and my grandmother and I came in. My grandfather didn’t want to come into the building, but he wanted me to see it… I remember being in the library and looking out the window and seeing him sort of pacing back and forth, smiling, and waving up at me from outside.”

Dana came back to Salzburg this summer to carry out research for a new novel that will fictionally touch on her family history. She says, “I see a portion of the book taking place in Salzburg because so many of my formative years took place there… I really wanted to come and spend some time to do some sort of research and thinking about the book.”

Justin jokes he’s here to “primarily eat desserts” in addition to revisiting the wonderful places he went to during his childhood. He had previously visited the Schloss for the first time 15 years ago with his wife and had wanted to come back ever since. Dana says, “He offered to be my research assistant, which was funny, but then the truth is because he’s older than I am, his memories of the summers we spent here are stronger.”

During their stay, Dana and Justin took part in a Q&A with Salzburg Global staff held in the historic Max Reinhardt Library – another room their grandfather had installed in the Schloss. It was in this exchange Dana revealed she wished her great-grandfather could see the Schloss as it is today. Elaborating on this point further, she says, “I think he would be so proud of the mission of the Seminar and this kind of dialogue that happens. I’ve taken some time to look through the catalogs and see the programming. It is something I think he would be really thrilled to see connected to the legacy of Max Reinhardt.”

Justin adds, “Not only is it a matter of preserving something as if it were a museum piece but it’s rather to continue the life that is here which is a different kind of thing. There’s an active engagement with the arts and the world of ideas and, again, Daniel’s (Szelényi, general manager at Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron) commitment to continuing to honor that legacy. I mean he’s managed to acquire things and bring them back to the Schloss, so in some ways, it continues to become more in the vision of Max Reinhardt, which is something unexpected. We didn’t imagine that as the case.”