steirischer herbst ’68

Founding Committee

Festival dates

“In the autumn events of the coming year, the contributions from theater, opera, and orchestra will be greater than in the past and also greater than this year, but the festival will not consist solely of theater and orchestra. Instead, the contributions and seminars of the Steirische Akademie (Styrian Academy) will remain just as important—in line with the basic concept of STEIRISCHER HERBST—as will the opportunities to experience the visual arts in performances and discussions, which are just as constitutive of STEIRISCHER HERBST, with the support of state and municipal institutions and free associations. It still looks as if the program of this year’s STEIRISCHER HERBST will be taken as a starting point, as if it were simply a juxtaposition of artistic and scholarly enterprises and events. However, it is our firm wish and truly meaningful mission to transcend these program additives and unite the scholarly contributions, the Vereinigte Bühnen (United Stages), the broadcasting service, the cultural advisory committee, and the independent institutions in STEIRISCHER HERBST under one specific basic theme, not in an exclusive framework that inhibits creative and initiative design, but rather in higher, free, and internal agreement.”
“The artist is no longer a household servant of the lords and prelates, for whose glory and representation he has to create his works. He is no longer the decorator of a bourgeois world, whose sentimental feelings, heroic edifications, and sensory perceptions he has to illustrate. Today he takes part in knowing, suffering from, and being responsible for, his time and its conditions, and his works are the records with which he proves this affiliation and with which he also commits himself to looking for a new way into a new world.”
— Opening speech by Hanns Koren

The opening of the first steirischer herbst festival took place on 23 September 1968, in the Rittersaal of the Grazer Landhaus, the most important Renaissance building in Austria, under the patronage of state governor Josef Krainer Sr. The keynote speaker was Hanns Koren, who presented the objectives of the festival program and its novelty in comparison with other festivals—resulting from the interdisciplinary interplay of theater, opera, and orchestra music, with contributions and seminars by the Steirische Akademie (Styrian Academy)—and emphasized the “possibilities to experience the visual arts in performances and discussions.”

The ceremony was followed by the official opening of the third edition of the Internationale Malerwochen (International Painting Weeks) at the Neue Galerie and a concert (one of a total of ten) as part of musikprotokoll, with works by György Ligeti, Ernst Krenek, Erich Marckhl, and Luigi Dallapiccola. Both events, the Malerwochen and the musikprotokoll, concentrated on (exclusively male) artists from the trigon countries of Italy, Yugoslavia, and Austria. With twenty-two hours of Neue Musik and works by thirty-five composers, the audience in Graz was introduced to pre-avant-garde and contemporary music—overall, the kickoff was received favorably by the press.

Peter Handke made a strong appearance at steirischer herbst ’68: his play Kaspar was presented in both a radio drama version by Rudolf Kautek and a staging by Gerald Szyszkowitz at the Schauspielhaus, and there was also a reading by Handke at the Forum Stadtpark. In addition to readings and discussions of contemporary poetry, the cabaret program with satirists such as Wolf Rahtjen, Hanns Dieter Hüsch, Dieter Hallervorden, and F. J. Bogner, who are still well known in German-speaking countries today, was another “small focus” at the Forum Stadtpark.

The ninth Steirische Akademie took place under the motto “Das Humane und die Manipulation des Menschen” (The Human and the Manipulation of Human Beings), and a podium discussion on the topic of biennials, documenta, and the situation of the contemporary art was held at Schloss Eggenberg. The podium discussion that followed presentations by Umbro Apollonio, Gillo Dorfles, Dietrich Mahlow, and Wilfried Skreiner went off the rails after critical objections by students, leaving behind an impression of a “malaise in art” (as one headline stated).





Visual Arts

Festival opening

7.10., 10 am
Schloss Eggenberg
Opening 9. steirische akademie by govenor Josef Krainer, deputy govenor Hanns Koren

23.9., 11 am
Neue Galerie
Opening of the exhibition: Works of the III. International Painting Weeks at the castle Retzhof near Leibnitz



Forum Stadtpark

Galerie Eder, Köflach

Joanneum Ecksaal


Kammermusiksaal ( Grazer Kongress)

Kammermusiksaal (Grazer Kongress)


Neue Galerie Graz

Oper Graz

Palais Attems

Pfarrsaal Köflach


Schauspielhaus Graz

Schloss Eggenberg

Stefaniensaal (Grazer Kongress)

Weißer Saal der Burg


Program booklet of steirischer herbst 1968: Styrian state cultural department, ’68 steirischer herbst (Graz: Styrian state cultural department, 1968)

Styrian state cultural department, Das Humane und die Manipulation des Menschen (Graz: 1968)

Harald Kaufmann, Symposium für Musikkritik (Studien zur Wertungsforschung 1) (Graz-Vienna: Universal Edition, 1968)

Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Werke der dritten internationalen Malerwochen auf Schloß Retzhof bei Leibnitz (Graz: 1968)