Searching for Redemption

Lisa Silverman

in Becoming Austrians

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199794843
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950072 | DOI:
Searching for Redemption

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This chapter outlines how the need for Austrian Jews to come to terms with their changed social status after World War I drove the creation of new cultural productions that provided potential answers—or, at the very least, an escape—for both Jewish and non-Jewish Austrians seeking an inclusive national cultural ideal. Max Reinhardt’s involvement in—and passion for—both the baroque Catholic Salzburg Festival and the Yiddish theater in Vienna points to the significant role of Austrian Jews as driving forces behind two seemingly oppositional forms of culture which both thrived at a time of deep social crisis. The fact that Reinhardt and Hugo von Hofmannsthal played major roles in creating the conservative Salzburg Festival revisits the overdetermined portrayal of Jews at the forefront of modernity in all aspects of European culture. But the fact that both Jews and non-Jews were avid enthusiasts of Yiddish theater in Vienna emphasizes the appeal of an explicitly Jewish theater to broad audiences in the city. Despite their differences, both forms of theater sparked intense, emotional reactions in audiences, using provincial and urban stages to reinvent mystical worlds of the past and create new ethical and cultural ideals with possibilities for future redemption.

Keywords: Salzburg Festival; Yiddish theater; Max Reinhardt; Hugo von Hofmannsthal; ethical ideals; cultural ideals

Chapter.  12990 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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