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Markus Hinterhaeuser to direct Salzburg Festival

VIENNA (Reuters) - Salzburg Festival veteran Markus Hinterhaeuser is to be the new director of the annual classical music showcase, replacing the controversial Alexander Pereria, who is going to La Scala Milan.

Hinterhaeuser, a concert pianist and former interim director of the festival, will take over from the 2017 summer season, the festival organizers said in a statement on Wednesday. He had been the frontrunner for the post among 15 candidates.

"It is a big and important job for me because I am very attached to the festival and because much in my life has been influenced by Salzburg and the festival," the 54-year-old Hinterhaeuser said in the statement.

The annual summer festival in Mozart's birthplace became a fixture of the international classical music scene under Herbert von Karajan, who was its artistic director from 1956 until his death in 1989.

Under Pereira's directorship, it was beset by squabbling over the festival's 60 million-euro ($81 million) budget and conditions for performers, who complained of being overworked.

Festival supervisory board member Andrea Ecker said Hinterhaeuser had been chosen because of his strong connection with Salzburg, which ensured a long-term perspective, as well as his international reputation and ability to innovate.

Hinterhaeuser is known for his performances of piano music by 20th century composers including John Cage, Schoenberg, Berg and Webern.

He will continue running the Vienna Festival until 2016, during which time the Salzburg Festival will be co-directed by its head of theatre, Sven-Eric Bechtolf, and its president, Helga Rabl-Stadler.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Alison Williams)

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