Festival of Joy 2019
Day of Liberation
On 8 May 2019 at 7:30 p.m. Mauthausen Committee Austria (MKÖ) in cooperation with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, will host the Festival of Joy at Heldenplatz in Vienna for the seventh time. The Festival will commemorate the victims of the Nazi reign of terror and the joy of the 74th anniversary of the liberation from the Nazi regime.
In 2019, the Festival of Joy will be dedicated not only to the Day of Liberation but also to Europe and human rights. The highlight of the ceremony will be the speech of eyewitness and concentration camp survivor Shaul Spielmann, who was born in Vienna. Spielmann was arrested in Vienna in 1942 and deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Spielmann survived six concentration camps, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp and concentration camps in the Mauthausen concentration camp system. In May 1945 he was liberated by the US Army in what was for him the worst concentration camp: Gunskirchen. Solidarity was of great importance for his survival then and still is today.
In 2019, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Eva Ollikainen and with star violinist Pekka Kuusisto as soloist will again play a free open-air concert that employs music to set a political example.
The festival will start with greetings by MKÖ Chairman Willi Mernyi and the words of Federal President Dr. Alexander van der Bellen.
The messages are dedicated to the main focus of the Festival of Joy 2019. Statements by ambassadors of the liberating nations and by representatives from Europe, the Jewish Community, the organization “Gedenkdienst” [memorial service] and the Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance will open the festival of joy.
Again in 2019, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra's music program is closely linked to the overarching theme of the festivities. The program draws a musical arc from the turmoil of the prewar period to the horror of dictatorship and to the joy of the ultimate triumph of humanity. The program begins with Ravel's tone poem La Valse, first performed in 1920, which was inspired by melancholy memories of Vienna in the early 20th century. An excerpt from Shostakovich's harrowing and powerful Tenth Symphony depicts the experience of oppression and tyranny. Arvo Pärt's deeply spiritual "Fratres" with star violinist Pekka Kuusisto as soloist and the Song of Marietta from Erich Wolfgang Korngold's opera "Die tote Stadt" (forbidden by the Nazis; here a version arranged for violin) conjure up ideals of peace and tolerance. The exuberant Rondo Finale from Mahler's Fifth Symphony then celebrates the end of barbarism. As in previous years, the Festival of Joy will conclude with the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which Conchita will sing together with the audience. Katharina Stemberger will moderate the event.
The Feast of Joy takes place in any weather at the Heldenplatz in Vienna. Seats are available for the elderly and people with special needs.
Again this year, ORF III (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation) will broadcast the Festival of Joy live from the Heldenplatz in Vienna. Already the TV broadcast has been the highlight of an extensive thematic focus on the history of the Mauthausen concentration camp and its satellite camps.
Over the past 6 years, more than 58,000 visitors have sent a strong message for the establishment of a worthy commemoration on May 8 as the Day of Liberation.
We look forward to welcoming you!