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It had been a great wish of Marianne Kroemer to organise the 1st International ESTA Congress in Graz, but any efforts were frustrated due to the lack of money. Public interest in further training was weak and the Graz. School of Music, today’s University of Music, did not offer any support either at that time. Fortunately, 10 years later, at the Graz Congress in 1982, things had changed for the better.

Gustav Mayer from Klagenfurt could take the credit for getting the 1st International Congress to Austria.

Rostal’s private secretariat. It was only gradually that responsibility for the preparation and organisation of the Congresses was assigned to the National Branches (except Strasbourg).

The Klagenfurt Congress was attended by more than one hundred participants from the five member countries and observers from Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Japan. Yugoslavia, Portugal and Hungary.

The Congress was opened by an official reception hosted by the mayor of Klagenfurt and a tour of the city. The musical part culminated in Bach’s Double Concerto played by Max Rostal and Wolfgang Schneiderhan. The social highlight was an invitation by the Governor of Carinthia. Renowned musicians had volunteered and presented lectures without pay:

Paul Breuer (GFR) “Reflections on the Theme: The String Instrument Double-Bass – or Double-Bass; a String Instrument, too?”
Joan Dickson (GB) “How Much Do We Need to Know?”
Christine Heman (GFR) “Intonation on String Instruments, Melodic and Harmonious Listening”
Sven Karpe (S) “The Influence of the Old Popular Tradition of Playing the Violin on a Country’s Style of String Instrument Teaching”
Günter Kehr (GFR) “String Chamber Music, a Hard School”
Siegfried Palm (GFR) “On Contemporary String Music”
Elizabeth Rajna (GB) “The Application of the Alexander Method to the Playing of String Instruments”
Max Rostal (CH/GB) “On the Interpretation of J.S.Bach’s Solo Sonatas”
Bernard Shore (GB) “Short Remarks on the Viola and its Players”
Helga Thoene (GDR) “Basic Instruction in String Instruments between Tradition and Experiment”
Rudolf v. Tobel (CH) “On the Cello Technique by Pablo Casals”

Every morning Swedish fiddlers – Ole Hjorth in particular – would give a fine display of their skills in front of the hotel rooms.

On 5 April the 1st Ordinary General Meeting was held, at which Max Rostal was elected new ESTA President and the Association’s headquarters transferred from Switzerland to Austria. Theo Hug was elected Vice-President and Hansheinz Schneeberger Secretary. It was already at this first international gathering that lively discussions broke out on how to raise the necessary funds for the Secretariat. The proposals by the National Branches regarding contributions ranged from: 2/3 Sweden, 1/3 Great Britain to 1/2 or 1/3 by Switzerland and Germany and not yet decided for Austria.

The Congress ended on a joyful and optimistic note. Many ties of friendship had been established, and we all went home inspired by new ideas.

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