There’s More to Salzburg than Classical Music

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Oct 22, 2018
by Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu
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There’s More to Salzburg than Classical Music

Newest YCI Salzburg Hub members reflect on their experiences in one of Europe’s cultural capitals THE HILLS ARE ALIVE: Salzburg has been a member of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997. It is considered a city of “outstanding value to humanity.”

Wolfgang Mozart, the Salzburg Festival, and The Sound of Music. These are several of the things that might come to mind when one thinks about Salzburg. There's so much more to the city, however, if one looks hard enough.

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators has recently welcomed four new members to its Salzburg YCI Hub, none of whom were born in the area but have since made it their new home.

These cultural practitioners have come from France, Italy, Romania and elsewhere in Austria to set up shop in one of Europe's cultural capitals. Speaking at the fifth program of the YCI Forum, each spoke with Salzburg Global about their impressions of the city.

Irina Paraschivoiu is a researcher and urban development official. She previously worked as a curator for Bucharest's 'Capital of Culture' bid in her homeland of Romania. Reflecting on Salzburg, she said, "It is a very rich city. It has a very rich history that you can feel everywhere you go whether it is a cultural event or just having a walk."

LonelyPlanet.com describes Salzburg as "the stuff of fairytales" and is flocked to by tourists throughout the year. Top attractions include the Festung Hohensalzburg, Schloss Mirabell, and Mozart's birthplace - to name a few.

Does that history overshadow newer things happening in the area? Perhaps. Paraschivoiu says, "I think, for sure, [Salzburg] would benefit from having more space for innovation and for young people to express themselves and be part of the cultural scene."

Stefano Mori, another of the new Salzburg YCIs, shares a similar view. Mori, an architect from Italy, moved to Salzburg to learn about earth architecture, which involves building with natural materials.

He says, “Everyone has an image of the city, a certain expectation of the city and that is why this city, I think, is conservative... When you have something so strong from a cultural point, you are always a bit afraid of losing it or changing it too much and in the end losing it.

"It is actually a very common behavior - when you have something valuable and you know the value already, you are not going to experiment or change it because you always have the fear of losing what you have for something you are not sure of.”

This mindset could be beginning to change, according to Katharina Kapsamer, a visual artist and cultural manager. Kapsamer is one of the new Salzburg YCIs who was born in Austria. She is based between Salzburg and Vienna.

She says, "Salzburg is actually buzzing with creative people especially the ones who are younger and still pursuing studies, and they are very eager to collaborate...”

The city is full of dancers, writers, authors, theater people, and visual artists. Kapsamer says several cultural initiatives are working to find more space in the city for creation, which means the spotlight is no longer just on classical music.

However, Kapsamer admits, "In a city that is so rich in history and cultural heritage, it is quite difficult to really get there... you kind of feel like if you really want to make [it] your own, you kind of like have to take it from someone else.”

One person who is trying to make the situation easier is Matthias Leboucher, co-founder of the New Art and Music Ensemble Salzburg (NAMES). Leboucher, from France, is working to create a space for new artforms.

He came to Salzburg to study for his Master's in composition. While the city is more familiar with classical compositions, Leboucher's forte concerns contemporary music. He believes Salzburg is a nice city for the arts "in general," but he hopes to encourage Salzburgers to experience the joys of modern music as well.

Leboucher says, “I hope to create concerts in this field of music that moves people, that really bring people and a larger audience and that people take a bit more risk for things they don’t know.”


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators V is part of a ten-year multi-year series. This year's program is supported by the Albanian-American Development Foundation, American Express, Arts Council Malta, Arts Council Korea, Asia-Europe Foundation,  Bush Foundation, Cambodian Living Arts, Canada Council for the Arts, Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, Foundation Adelman pour l’Education, Fulbright Greece, Japan Foundation, Korea Foundation, the Llewellyn Thompson Memorial Fellowship, Robert Bosch Stiftung, The Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Nippon Foundation, World Culture Open, Adena and David Testa, and the U.S. Embassy Valetta, Malta. More information on the program can be found here. More information on the series can be found here. You can follow all the discussions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtag #SGSyci.