The legendary Festspielhaus on Bayreuth's famed Green Hill. Copyright Andreas Harbach
Germany’s Classical-Themed Composer Festivals
Classical music fans will already be aware that Germany has a slew of top-notch annual events. But did you know that there are also several festivals that specifically celebrate its most famous composers, including Bach and Beethoven, Strauss and Wagner? Below is a round up of some of these events—be sure to book early if you can, since some of them sell out months ahead of time…
One of the oldest music festivals in Germany, Beethovenfest Bonn was founded in 1845 by…Franz Liszt! Beethoven was born in Bonn, and this celebratory festival comprises around 70 events in and around the former German capital throughout August and September. 2022 marks the debut for new artistic director Steven Walter, whose aim is to translate Beethoven’s humanistic worldview into a festival of musical diversity.
www.beethovenfest.de 25th August-17th September
Running since 1876, when Richard Wagner first performed his Ring des Nibelungen as a cycle there, this purpose-built theatre is the place to see the great master’s Romantic works. The repertoire consists of the same iconic operas that have always been performed here, including Der fliegende Holländer, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, the four-part cycle of the Der Ring, Tristan und Isolde, and Parsifal.
https://www.bayreuther-festspiele.de, 24th July until 27th August.
Thüringer Bachwochen—one of the more recent ‘composer festivals’ to emerge Thuringia’s “Bach Week” was founded in 2004 as a way of celebrating the composer’s music in the state he was born and lived in, and already draws around 20,000 fans from all around the world each year. Sixty or so concerts take place in a range of settings connected to his life, including the Bachhaus and Bach’s baptismal church in Eisenach, the church in Dornheim where he was married, as well as Mühlhausen, Arnstadt and Weimar where he composed much of his early work.
www.thueringer-bachwochen.de 21st March until 1st May
Launched in Lübeck in 1991, at the same time the Brahms Institute was founded at the city’s Academy of Music, this festival brings the composer’s music, and that of his contemporaries, to the UNESCO Hanseatic city. As well as concerts, the Brahms Institute shows off its comprehensive collection of ‘Brahmnobilia’ in the historical rooms of Villa Eschenburg (also known as Villa Brahms). This year’s special theme co-celebrates the 200th anniversary of the death of ETA Hoffmann.
May 6th – 15th
Richard Strauss was born in Munich but lived in the idyllic market town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, with his family, for over forty years, and created many of his most important works here. Held annually in early summer since 1989, the Richard Strauss Festival offers music lovers from all over the world the opportunity to experience his music exactly where he composed it.
www.richard-strauss-festival.de June-July (dates TBC)