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Cultural Heart Of Germany 2013

Cultural Heart Of Germany

Cultural Heart Of Germany

Next year will be a particularly Wagnerian one for the Cultural Heart of Germany with the 200th anniversary of the composer being celebrated in different locations throughout the region where he spent his formative years.

But non-Wagner fans need not despair, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia offer an eclectic mix of festivals and events for 2013 catering for every taste.

All things Wagner

Dresden’s Church of Our Lady will set the scene for Wagner’s birthday concert on 18 May when Liebesmahl der Apostel, a piece for male choruses and orchestra, will have one of its rare performances at the place of its premiere in 1843. Leipzig, where the composer was born on 22 May 1813, will host the 2013 edition of the International Richard Wagner Congress from 18 to 22 May. The programme features an array of world-class music, academic panels and cultural outings.

One of Wagner’s most famous works, Tannhäuser, was influenced by the legendary medieval minstrel contest said to have taken place on the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach. Fittingly, the Wartburg will host a number of concert performances of the opera next year (29 Mar, 20 Apr, 30 Apr, 20 May, 23 June, 8/18/21 Sep). Just under an hour east, the composer’s Lohengrin premiered in Weimar in 1850. From September 2012 onwards and until February 2014, numerous performances of the romantic opera are scheduled at the German National Theatre.

Wagner’s influence is still felt in Weimar where his great-granddaughter, Nike Wagner, initiated the international art festival Pèlerinages in 2004. For next year’s event from 23 August to 14 September she will for the last time take directorship and on the occasion of the composer’s 200th anniversary put together a programme that is inspired by Wagner and his reception by contemporary art, music, dance, music and film.

Magdeburg where Wagner became orchestra director in 1834 will be presenting the master with a special birthday honour on 22 May and stage his iconic opera Tristan and Isolde at Magdeburg Theatre for the first time since 1945.

History & design

In the year of Wagner’s birth the Battle of the Nations outside the city gates of Leipzig put an end to the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon’s troops. Cue another anniversary to be celebrated next year: From 17 to 20 October, a festival week in Leipzig will commemorate not only 200 years of the Battle of the Nations but also 100 years of the Monument to the Battle of the Nations that was inaugurated in 1913. The event will bring people from all across Europe to Leipzig and the programme features concerts, theatre and re-enactments.

All design aficionados should make a note about the upcoming Van de Velde Year, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Belgian Bauhaus pioneer Henry van de Velde in Erfurt, Weimar, Gera, Apolda and Jena. Numerous exhibitions in Weimar, where the Bauhaus was born in 1919 and Van de Velde spent 15 years, and surrounding towns will feature the work of the all round artistic genius and some of his contemporaries such as the German painter, designer, typographer and architect Peter Behrens.

Going back further in time, the Romanesque Road in Saxony-Anhalt links 80 Romanesque churches, cathedrals, abbeys and palaces, and will be celebrating its 20th birthday as a themed route between 7 May and 1 November 2013 with special days dedicated to each of the 80 monuments.

Music for all seasons

The Cultural Heart of Germany is known for all-time favourites such as the Handel Festival in the composer’s birthplace Halle (6 to 16 June), the Thuringia Bach Festival (22 Mar to 14 Apr) or the Dresden Music Festival (11 May to 2 June) that will next year take its inspiration from the motto Empire, featuring English choral music and a number of the UK’s leading orchestras and ensembles. But the region also surprises with some first-class niche festivals with international appeal: Dessau in Saxony-Anhalt is the hometown of composer Kurt Weill, him of The Threepenny Opera. Next year’s Kurt Weill Festival (22 Feb to 10 March) is entitled New York – New York. Expect some Broadway action and hits from the 30ies and 40ies. One of Germany’s most cutting-edge music festivals is Melt! (19 to 21 July) in Saxony-Anhalt. Every year, Electro meets Rock against the unique industrial backdrop of the Ferropolis open-air museum.

Talking about things that you won’t see anywhere else in the world, why not take part in a witches meeting in 2013. Each year on Walpurgis Night (30 Apr), the Brocken mountain in the Harz becomes the setting for exuberant celebrations. The first night of spring reminds of the time when Germanic tribes celebrated the gods of Odin and Freya. A sight to behold in the 21st century.

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