Tim German - Happy 70th Salzburg Global Seminar!

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Jul 15, 2017
by Tim German
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Tim German - Happy 70th Salzburg Global Seminar!

Salzburg Global Fellow Tim German reflects on “four wonderful experiences” at Salzburg [Back row, from left to right] Catriona German, Tim German, Salzburg Global President Stephen L. Salyer, and Susan Moeller with guests at the summer festival in 2008

In an article the Salzburg Global Seminar’s former Director, Tim Ryback quoted the biography of Max Reinhardt by his son Gottfried. The Schloss Leopoldskron of the 1920s and 1930s was a "scene bustling with traffic, and it was safe to say, the only place of its kind in Central Europe. Many an exciting project was conceived there, many a career launched. Many intrigues set brewing and many a love affair born and shattered." I agree with Max’s conclusion that Gottfried's observation remains "equally valid in the age of the Salzburg Seminar."

I have, so far, been lucky enough to have four wonderful experiences of being part of the Salzburg Global Seminar bustle. I have left each [experience] as a more informed and, I think a better person, with reflections that continue to shape my life and my attitude to global affairs. All four have been seriously enlightening and all four have been fun. Great friendships have been forged and I have memories will continue to keep me smiling for the rest of my life.

I was a faculty member of Session 442 in May 2007. With the title Making Green Pay – Designing Initiatives to Support Environmental Sustainability, I had been asked to speak on work to make public –private sector partnerships effective, work which I was leading in Cornwall, UK. Prior to arriving for the first time I can remember thinking that the list of fellow faculty members was daunting. On the list were people such as Teruaki Masumoto, the vice-chair of the Federation Electric Power Companies in Japan, Brice Lalonde, chairman of the OECD Roundtable, and David Esty, director of the Center of Business & Environment at Yale University. It did not take long though for the wonderful atmosphere created by Schloss Leopoldskron to create its magic and help get over that nervousness. It is a place where international dialogue becomes natural and - with people with global experience such as Edward Mortimer and Ben Glahn providing the introductions - barriers are easily broken down.

I was very keen that my wife, Catriona, not miss out on the SGS/Schloss Leopoldskron experience. At Session 442 I learned that Salzburg Global was to have a celebratory festival to celebrate its 60th anniversary. The timing was good for us and we duly attended in the summer. At the festival we were in the company of some of the greats from Salzburg Global's history. Too many to list all but we will never forget our time with the wonderful Herb Gleason and his wife Nancy and Bill Webster (Head of the US Homeland security) singing, "The hills are alive with the sound of music," on a visit to one of the other Sound of Music tour sites. Ah! The Sound of Music! How important has that been to the long-term health of Schloss Leopoldskron. Music is hugely important to Catriona and certainly runs through our veins. This festival was a chance to socialise, enjoy lectures provided by the guests and go on some visits we will never forget. It was our first introduction to Reinhold Wagnleitner, the jazz musician and academic from the University of Salzburg. The visits were led by Astrid Koblmüller and Kathleen Schendl and oh, we had such a laugh!

I can remember leaving thinking, "I wonder when I can come back!" Amazingly that was to be twice in the next year: 2008.

I was invited to co-chair (with Christiane Egger of the Upper Austrian Energy Agency) Session 454 - Combating Climate Change at Local and Regional Levels – Sustainable Strategies, Renewable Energy. With a list of faculty members and fellows representing countries from each continent – it was wonderful to discuss how we address the greatest issue for the 21st Century through decentralized and local approaches, something very dear to my heart. I can clearly remember thinking, "What wonderful people they are that attend these seminars and what a privilege it is to be part of (and chair) such important discussions." The lessons learned from different countries were, as you can imagine, extremely varied but I went back to the UK with a head full of ideas that I would like to see happening in my region and my country.  Long-term friendships were forged at Session 454. Professor Wulf Daseking was one of an influential list of faculty members addressing the seminar. At that time Wulf was the Director of Planning at the City of Freiburg in South West Germany. His presentation and his enthusiasm for his work had a massive impact on me and I have since helped arrange two delegations to the city voted the most sustainable in the world. I believe it is very important for our leaders and politicians to see such examples of best practice for themselves. Wulf was then invited to Cornwall to address the whole of its administrative council. Similarly, as a result of Session 454 I led delegations to Upper Austria and Spain. As with all seminars, the intense discussions were interspersed with trips and site-visits. 

Somehow at the 2007 festival we had let slip that we had a professional background in music (between us 30 years of operatic roles across Europe). Maybe it was that that led to what was, for us, the greatest privilege of all. Catriona and I were invited to host the next festival at the Schloss in the summer of 2008. 

With The Sound of Music still ringing in our ears from 2007 we agreed to build a festival program around the Schloss’s musical history. Extra special for us was that the Salzburg Global festival coincided with the Salzburg International Festival, itself having close links with the Schloss. Its previous owner, Max Reinhardt had been the founder of what is now recognized as the most important music festival in the world. 

Just prior to the festival Catriona and I attended a discussion between Daniel Barenboim (a frequent visitor to the Schloss himself) and Pierre Boulez, and also our idol, Renee Fleming performing the greatest of all works, Strauss’ "Four Last Songs". At the festival I provided a talk on global energy sustainability and both Catriona and I provided a talk on how music and politics have been interspersed over the centuries, concentrating on composers such as Mozart (of course), Verdi, Shostakovich and it gave me the chance to illustrate this through my most favourite scene in opera, the sea battle scene from "Billy Budd" by Benjamin Britten.  

We also invited Georg Steinitz to join us for much of the festival. Many Salzburg Global Fellows may have met Georg. He worked on the making of The Sound of Music film. What a lovely, lovely man. It has been wonderful to have kept our friendship with him ever since.  

An extra privilege was the opportunity to perform an impromptu concert in the Great Hall where once it was possible that the young Mozart ‘may’ have performed:  It is felt likely he performed for the Prince Archbishop at the then new Schloss Leopoldskron. The opportunity to perform with our pianist friend Tatiana Aleksandrova, Reinhold Wagnleitner and his brother, as well as Edward Mortimer performing well-known music to comical words that he had rewritten led to further long-term friendships leaving an indelible mark on our lucky lives. 

Our friends from Cornwall, Mary Thorniley and Rose Tempest joined us at the 2008 festival and we had such good fun helped again by the companionship of Kathleen Schendl. The 70th anniversary is exceptionally poignant for us as it takes pace only a month after the sad death of Rose, a wonderful person, benefactor of the arts and great friend. 

Thank you Salzburg Global – here’s to your next 70 years of providing such wonderful experiences.