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A History of Schloss Leopoldskron.

Schloss Leopoldskron was commissioned as a family estate in 1736 by the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg Leopold Anton Freiherr von Firmian (1679-1744). The Archbishop was a great lover of science and arts, but is most remembered for his role in the expulsion of over 22,000 Protestants from the Archbishopric of Salzburg.

Construction of Schloss Leopoldskron began in 1736. The Archbishop acquired the land between the Schloss and the Untersberg as a part of the estate. A special law made the property an inalienable possession of the family. In May 1744, Leopold gave the deed of the completed Schloss to his nephew, Count Laktanz Firmian.

The Archbishop died in 1744. His body was buried in Salzburg's cathedral, but his heart remains buried in the Chapel of the Schloss, which, as is inscribed on the chapel floor, he "loved so dearly".

Count Laktanz, a collector of art and an artist himself, enriched Schloss Leopoldskron with the largest collection of paintings Salzburg had ever known, including works of artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Dürer, Poussins, and Titian. Count Laktanz was one of the first sponsors of Leopold Mozart and his son, Wolfgang Amadeus.

Although Laktanz died in 1786, the Schloss remained in the Firmian family until 1837, when it was sold to George Zierer, owner of a local shooting gallery. It was Zierer who removed most of the remaining valuable paintings, etchings, and sculptures from Schloss Leopoldskron.

During the 19th century the Schloss passed through various hands, among them two waiters who attempted to turn it into a hotel, King Ludwig I. of Bavaria, and a well-known Salzburg banker.

The next significant era in the history of the Schloss began in 1918, the year in which the Schloss was sold to Max Reinhardt, Europe's most famous theater director and co-founder of the Salzburg Festival. Reinhardt acquired the Schloss when it was in a severe state of disrepair. This, however, appealed to Reinhardt, who committed his creative talent during the next twenty years of his life to revivifying the Schloss.

With the assistance of Salzburg artisans, Reinhardt renovated the staircase, the Great Hall, and the Marble Hall. The Library and the Venetian Room are Reinhardt creations, as are decorations in other salons.

Reinhardt brought life to Schloss Leopoldskron in literal terms, with his theater productions, audiences, and friends. In the plays produced here Reinhardt put the Schloss to full use, moving audiences from one room to another, employing the magnificent rooms as sets in and of themselves. He constructed a garden theater, with the lake and the Untersberg as backdrop, in what is now the Schloss park. During the Reinhardt years, Schloss Leopoldskron was an important gathering place for theatrical producers, writers, composers, actors, and designers from Europe and abroad.

World War II brought an end to the Reinhardt era: in 1938 the Schloss was confiscated as "Jewish property". Reinhardt, who was living and working in Hollywood at the time, never returned to Schloss Leopoldskron, but his heart had never left. Reinhardt died in New York City in 1943.

During the war the Schloss was occupied by the Nazis. In 1945, it was returned to the Reinhardt estate, and in 1946, Helene Thimig offered the use of Schloss Leopoldskron to Clemens Heller, Harvard graduate student and visionary of the Salzburg Seminar.

The first Salzburg Seminar session took place during the summer of 1947, and offered not only education on American literature, art, history, and culture, but also a beautiful, calm setting, and nourishing food, enormously appreciated by those from countries long at war. The success of the first session prompted the founders, Clemens Heller, Scott Elledge, and Richard Campbell, to gather funds for a second session in the summer of 1948. Over 300 sessions have followed since then.

The Salzburg Seminar purchased Schloss Leopoldskron in 1959. Since then the Schloss has undergone extensive restoration and renovation. In 1973, the adjacent Meierhof, a part of the original Firmian estate, was purchased. The Meierhof was renovated to its current state in 1988-1989, making possible the use of the Schloss as a conference center and venue for exclusive events when Salzburg Seminar program events are not in session. Schloss Leopoldskron is a national historic monument in Austria.


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