Opening concert

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January 1970

Johannes Brahms referred to it as his “last foolishness” and a “curious idea”: a double concerto for violin and cello was in his  time a rather unusual idea. It probably did not originate from Brahms himself but from the cellist Robert Hausmann. Together with the famous violinist Joseph Joachim he first performed the concerto in 1887 in Cologne. Years beforehand, Joachim and Brahms had had a serious fall-out, but during the rehearsals the two friends were reconciled. And indeed Brahms did here  create a work which, in comparison with his earlier, more gloomy concertos, has a joyful and optimistic air about it. Thirteen years later the first symphony by the young and eccentric Aleksandr Skryabin was given its world premiere in St. Petersburg – reviews were lukewarm. The work was regarded as complicated, the technique strange, the form unusual; in other words  something only for connoisseurs. Nevertheless, Skryabin did not allow himself to lose heart and one year later added a sixth movement to the existing five of the symphony, his Hymn to Art. Like Beethoven in his Ninth Symphony Skryabin brings his orchestral piece to a close with solo singers and a choir: Du reine Kunst der Harmonien, du bist des Lebens lichter Traum – in dir findet der Mensch die lebendige Freude des Trostes (‘O highest symbol of divinity, supreme art and harmony, you are life’s  right hope, Man finds in you the vivid joy of consolation’.) The soloists István Várdai (cello), and Tobias Feldmann (violin), as well as the mezzo-soprano Zanda Švēde and the tenor James Ley are accompanied in this evening concert by the Tyrol Festival Erl Orchestra conducted by Giedrè Šlekytè.

Program and cast

Tragic Overture in D Minor op. 81

Double Concerto in A minor for violin, cello and orchestra op. 102

1st Symphony E Major op. 26

Orchestra and Choir of the Tiroler Festspiele Erl

Conductor: Giedrė Šlekytė

Violin: Tobias Feldmann

Cello: István Várdai

Mezzosoprano: Zanda Švēde

Tenor: James Ley

Festspielhaus Erl



Designed by Delugan Meissl Associated Architects, Vienna, the extraordinary structure boasts 862 seats (130 of which are flexible seats near the orchestra) and the world’s largest orchestra pit (160-sq meters). The total useable surface is 7,000-square meter. General contractor was STRABAG, project manager Ing. Georg Höger.


The new Festspielhaus respects and compliments the architecture of the old Passionsspielhaus and its natural surroundings in a unique way: in the summer, when the Tyrolean Festival Erl or the Passion Plays take place at the white Passionsspielhaus, the dark Festspielhaus will blend with the dark forest, allowing the Passionsspielhaus to be dominant. In the winter it is the other way round: while the white Passionsspielhaus will fade into the surroundings, the dark Festspielhaus will stand out against the white landscape.


The Festspielhaus offers the modern infrastructure that has been sorely missing at the Passionsspielhaus, including a foyer with cloakroom, modern stage machinery, several rehearsal rooms and plenty of space for administrative offices. The Festspielhaus provides the Tyrolean Festival Erl with the basic conditions it needs to ensure the Festival’s success will continue into the future.




The Passionsspielhaus in Erl, built between 1957 and 159 on plans by architect Robert Schuller, is an architectural and acoustic masterpiece. The structure blends with its surroundings and is a visual extension of the adjoining mountains.
Thanks to its striking shape the Passionspielhaus instantly became Erl’s greatest landmark. Austria’s largest orchestra theater accommodates up to 1500 visitors. The 25-meter wide stage is tiered and provides a spectacular backdrop for the 500 passion play actors as well as the orchestra of the Tyrolean Festival Erl, which performs onstage as there is no orchestra pit. 


A café serving snacks and beverages was added in 1997 and an Art Room for 150 visitors was opened in 2003.  
When the Festspielhaus was renovated between October 2006 and April 2007 all sanitary facilities were upgraded; an “orchestra pit” with scissor lift and a substructure for the main stage were added; the auditorium got equipped with a deaf loop system and a new floor; the catwalk, the exterior design, the cellar beneath the donkey ramp, the refreshment stand, all electrical installations and the ventilation system were replaced; and the wardrobe and the stairway renovated.  






Germany, Eastern Austria
A8 Munich-Salzburg, Autobahndreieck Inntal, A 93, Motorway exit Nussdorf/Brannenburg or Oberaudorf/Niederndorf

Italy, Switzerland, Western Austria
Inntalautobahn A 12, motorway exit Kufstein Nord or Oberaudorf/Niederndorf; from Italy: after Brenner Pass take A 13 and A 12 (approx. 1 h 20 min to Erl); from the Swiss border it’s a 3 hour drive to Erl; the entire journey is on motorways and expressways.

In Austria, the use of motorways and expressways is subject to payment of a toll.

Munich – Erl approx. 1 hour by car
Salzburg – Erl approx. 1 hour by car
Innsbruck – Erl approx. 45 hour by car



All long distance and regional trains stop in Kufstein. 




Innsbruck (90 km),
Salzburg (90 km),
München (110 km).


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