Music

Mahler Chamber Orchestra Enlarge image (© Sonja Werner)

Germany’s reputation as an important musical nation is still based on names like Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Handel and Richard Strauss. Students from around the world flock to its music academies, music lovers attend the festivals – from the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth to the Donaueschingen Festival of Contemporary Music. There are 80 publicly financed concert halls in Germany, the most important being in Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden and Munich as well as Frankfurt/Main, Stuttgart, and Leipzig. The Berlin Philharmonic, under the star British conductor Sir Simon Rattle, is considered to be the best of around 130 symphony orchestras in Germany. The Frankfurt “Ensemble Modern” is a fundamental engine room behind contemporary music production. Every year it masters some 70 new works, including 20 premieres. In addition to internationally known maestros such as Kurt Masur and Christoph Eschenbach, of the young conductors Ingo Metzmacher and Christian Thielemann in particular have come to the fore. Of the artists, the soprano Waltraud Meier, baritone Thomas Quasthoff and clarinetist Sabine Meyer are among the best in the world. The violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter even has an enormous following beyond classical music enthusiasts and is “the” German international star.

German pioneers of electronic music such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, who died in 2007, and his traditionalist opposite number, opera composer Hans Werner Henze, have had a resounding international influence on contemporary music since the mid-20th century. Nowadays there are a wide array of stylistic trends: Heiner Goebbels combines music and theater, while Helmut Lachenmann takes the possibilities of instrumental expression to the extreme. Wolfgang Rihm reveals how in the way it is developing it appears possible for music once again to become more comprehensible. With his sense of the zeitgeist and the sensitivities of his fans,at the other end of the musical spectrum the pop singer Herbert Grönemeyer has been enjoying success with songs in German for years now. The Punk rockers “Die Toten Hosen“, the heavy-metal band Rammstein and the teenage fan group “Tokio Hotel” also come in the category of German superstars. Furthermore, over the past few years young artists such as the singer Xavier Naidoo (of the group “Söhne Mannheims”) have been successfully basing their work on American soul and rap. Especially in this particular scene, many young musicians from immigrant backgrounds such as Laith Al-Deen, Bushido, Cassandra Steen and Adel Tawil are emerging as stars. Most recently, the success of the Berlin band “Wir sind Helden” has influenced a whole new wave of young German bands. The founding of the “Pop Academy” in Mann­heim clearly demonstrated the wish to put German pop music on an international footing.

In the club sceneas well Germany has numerous “in” locations, in particular in the major cities Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt/Main, Stuttgart and Mannheim. With the disco trend of the 1970s, the Rap/Hip-hop of the 1980s and the techno style of the 1990s, DJs liberated themselves to become sound artists and producers. Scratching, sampling, re-mixes and computer technology made sound media into infinitely changeable raw mass for meta music. In Sven Väth, the “Godfather of Techno” and Paul van Dyk, Germany has produced two of the absolute top stars of the club scene.

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