Highlights of the Spring and Summer 2005

On February 22, the 18th Annual Erwin Piscator Award was presented to the well-known actor Ben Gazzara for his outstanding artistic achievements in theatre, television and motion pictures and for his exceptional accomplishments in the realm of the independent film movement. The Honorary Erwin Piscator Award in memory of Maria Ley Piscator was given to Donald M. Kendall, co-founder of PepsiCo and its CEO for 21 years, in recognition of his tireless efforts to advance international understanding and social responsibility and for his extraordinary contributions to the arts. The Award Ceremony took place at the Lotos Club and helped raise funds for Elysium’s overseas programs for young American artists, especially our International Summer Academy for young singers in Bernried.

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Ben Gazzara, Recipient of the Piscator Award 2005 (left), with Elysium’s Advisor Kitty Carlisle Hart (center) and prominent playwright Edward Albee who gave remarks on the Honoree. [Photo: Carin Drechsler-Marx]

One of the giants of American industry, Donald M. Kendall, was awarded the Honorary Piscator Award 2005.

Elke Gazzara and Roberta Glenn during the reception prior to the Award Luncheon. [Photo: Carin Drechsler-Marx]


Elysium’s devoted Board Member and Chairperson of the Luncheon Committee, Jolana Blau (right) welcomes guests at the Award Luncheon, while Michael Lahr looks on.
[Photo: Carin Drechsler-Marx]

Eli Wallach, a fixture of New York’s Theatre Life and himself a recipient of the Piscator Award (left) was full of praise for his friend Ben Gazzara. After the luncheon he shares a moment with Elysium’s dear friend Kathleen Moskal McCord. [Photo: Steffen Amann]

The legendary Kitty Carlisle Hart with Gregorij von Leïtis, the chairperson of the Piscator Award. [Photo: Steffen Amann]



On February 26, Gregorij von Leïtis and Michael Lahr hosted a reception for Karin Jenette-Martin, president of Elysium’s German Branch, who visited New York with a group of friends.

Karin Jenette-Martin (right) with Korinna von Kempski (center) and Elysium’s long-time friend William Schurtman.

Eva Schustermann (left) from Munich, in conversation with Elysium’s great supporter Ruth A. Mueller.



From May 27 through July 3, the Elysium Festival Bernried 2005 took place on the shores of Lake Starnberg, in southern Germany. Remembering the Allied Liberation from National Socialism, the festival’s musical and theatrical performances and lectures dealt with the historic date of 1945 and its repercussions. Each program viewed a different aspect of this significant moment in world history, but the overall focus was on the culture of peace and the invaluable gift of freedom that followed the defeat of the Nazi Regime in Germany and Austria.
The former spokesman of the German government, Uwe-Karsten Heye, who recently retired as German Consul General in New York, opened the Elysium Festival at Höhenried Castle with a reading from his best-selling book Nothing but a Pale Shadow of Happiness telling the suspenseful story of his own flight.


Uwe-Karsten Heye (left) with Frauke Ancker, Executive Director of the Bavarian Association of Journalists.


Gabriele Becker (right), head of Human Resources at the Goethe Institute’s world headquarters in Munich, with Marianne Heuwagen, political correspondent of Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Korinna von Kempski (left), Sylveli Hemmerle (center) and Jolana Blau, visiting from New York, at the reception following the opening of the Elysium Festival.


Count Michael Buquoy (left) with Ambassador Dr. Alois Jelonek.



Elysium’s devoted volunteer Edina Swarovski (right) talks to Emil Schustermann after the reading by Uwe-Karsten Heye


On May 29, the American Consul General in Munich, Matthew M. Rooney (center) – shown here with his wife (left) and Michael Lahr – opened an exhibition about the legendary master spy Sam Woods. As an American diplomat in Europe, Woods passed along accurate intelligence about Hitler’s plan to invade the Soviet Union, and also learned about German atomic experiments. Later, Woods married Wilhelmina Busch, heiress of the Anheuser-Busch dynasty, and lived in Bernried until his death in 1953.

Following the world premiere of Lustgarten’s opera “Dante in Exile” on June 3, guests enjoy a reception at Höhenried castle. Shown here are: (from left) Elysium’s dear friend Karin von Bülow, Karin Jenette-Martin, president of Elysium’s German branch, Dan Franklin Smith, music director of Elysium, Michael Lahr, and Clemens Martin. [Photo:Tassilo von Poschinger]

Edina Swarovksi (left), Gregorij von Leïtis (center) and baritone Peter Clark, who sang the roles of Can Grande and Ezzelin, are happy about the success of “Dante in Exile.”
[Photo:Tassilo von Poschinger]

On June 19, Kurt F. Viermetz (right), Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Hypo Real Estate AG and former Vice Chairman of J.P. Morgan, gave a very interesting lecture on “The Economic and Financial Relations between Germany and the USA within the last 60 years”. Among the guests was businessman and philanthropist Karl Wamsler (left).

The concert “Broadway Legends” focused on the influence that European immigrants to the US had on American Musical Theatre. With “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun”, Sarah Schütz, Patrick Lammer, and Alexandra Trunk (from right) opened the performance to a sold-out house.

Throughout the Elysium Festival international guests came to Bernried. For the reading of Lore Segal’s novel “Her first American”, Elysium was honored to welcome Ruth Meros (left) from Tel Aviv and Margot Barnard (center) from London, as well as
Elisabeth Rind-Schmidt


Elysium is deeply saddened by the death of its Honorary Artistic Director, Prof. Leon Askin. Born in 1907 in Vienna, he started his career as an actor in 1926 in Germany. In April 1933 he was arrested by the SA. One day after his release from prison, Askin left Germany, and in 1935 returned to Vienna, where he started the political cabaret “ABC”. In 1938 he had to flee his native Austria. Arriving in Paris, Askin was soon hired by Erwin and Maria Piscator. In 1940, he came to New York and continued his work with the Piscators. After the war, he directed Goethe’s “Faust” on Broadway. In 1952, Askin went to Hollywood and remained there until 1993, appearing in more than 60 Hollywood pictures. In 1994, Leon Askin returned to Vienna where he continued to be active on theater stages, in TV and film until his death on June 3. On July 4, 2004 on the occasion of the Erwin Piscator Honorary Award Ceremony, Leon Askin gave a moving speech about his teacher Erwin Piscator. Leon Askin was an extraordinary artist and a great human being. He will be deeply missed.

Leon Askin in 2004 at the Elysium Festival Bernried.