Wolfsberg is at the heart of a region boasting a rich cultural heritage. Famous artists including Christine Lavant, Switbert Lobisser and Gerhart Ellert have played their part in establishing Wolfsberg’s reputation as a town of culture in Carinthia and beyond.
Christine Lavant und Gertrud Schmirger
The great poet Christine Lavant (1915–1973), whose name was actually Christine Thonhauser, had a pseudonym that successfully associated her with the river’s air of mystery. Meanwhile, the famous author Gerhart Ellert was actually a woman — the Wolfsberg-born Gertrud Schmirger (1900–1975). She capitalized on her male pen name in the publication of numerous narratives, historical novels and travel books, receiving the Austrian State Prize for Youth Literature.
Christine Lavant was born in Grossedling in 1915, the daughter of a miner. Being subjected to a harsh and deprived life, she tapped her inner being and found new forms of artistic expression. Poverty and modesty were the underlying themes of her venturesome voyage into the world of emotions which she so masterfully expressed in her poetry. Christine Lavant, the region’s leading literary light, aroused international interest while she was still alive. Today, there is a Christine-Lavant-Society, in Wolfsberg which also organizes the Christine-Lavant-Poetry Competition in conjunction with the town council.
As well as Christine Lavant and Gertrud Schmirger, other literary figures from Wolfsberg have also made a name for themselves, including the contemporary authors Heimo Toefferl and Gernot Ragger.
Lobisser, Habernig, Schüßler
Switbert Lobisser (1878–1943) who was born in Tiffen, Carinthia, set new standards of fine arts in the Lavant Valley during the first half of the 20th century.
Lobisser entered the Benedictine monastery in St. Paul in 1899. Between 1904 and 1908 he studied at the Vienna Academy at the instruction of the monastery and returned to St. Paul as a qualified drawing instructor. He remained a Benedictine monk, head of the forestry commission and a teacher at the Benedictine grammar school until 1932.
Fascinated by the study of nature, Lobisser had started making a name for himself in 1917 producing oil paintings, watercolours, drawings and, in particular, woodcuts and monumental wall paintings. He executed frescoes for the Benedictine monastery in St. Paul, Klagenfurt cathedral, the Carinthian seat of parliament, numerous churches, and private and public buildings.
Lobisser left the Benedictine order and the Lavant Valley in 1932 to lead a secular life in Klagenfurt. Following the tragic death of his partner Eva, he devoted himself entirely to art, increasingly identifying with national-socialist ideology. Lobisser’s works, which had always taken their inspiration from the old German masters, seeking to depict the secrets of nature and rendering tribute to rustic realism, fitted into the mindset of the national socialist ruling powers. They saw Lobisser’s works as “embracing themes of relevance to a new national consciousness such as myth of the soil, vigour of the healthy farming community, extolment of mothers”. (Arthur Hanzer: Switbert Lobisser, 1982/83). Switbert Lobisser died in Klagenfurt on 1 October 1943.
Other famous Wolfsberg greats down the ages include Josef Benedikt Habernig, Carl v. Demelt and Matthias Zwischenberger. Karl Schüssler is a contemporary personality worthy of particular mention.
Clubs and societies
Throughout the year, numerous creative artists and societies contribute towards filling the Wolfsberg events calendar. Concerts, theatrical performances, lectures, information evenings and exhibitions are among the events scheduled. Singing is particularly important in Wolfsberg, as reflected in the large number of choral societies and choirs.