A Musical Journey Through Time
Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/dpa) From Bach to Lena: follow us on a brief musical journey through four centuries of seminal moments in German music.
1713: Johann Sebastian Bach begins composing the six Brandenburg concertos. In 1717 he moves from the court at Weimar to Köthen, before becoming cantor of St.Thomas School in Leipzig in 1723. There he writes major cantatas and impresses his contemporaries as an organ virtuoso.
1721: Georg Philipp Telemann becomes musical director in Hamburg, after previously holding the same post for nine years in Frankfurt am Main. He makes an outstanding contribution to the development of opera and the orchestra and leaves a legacy of more than 3,500 works, including 46 Passions.
1753: Bach's second oldest son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, publishes An Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments, one of the most important music tracts of the 17th century. The court harpsichordist of Frederick II and Hamburg musical director develops what is known as the "sensitive style."
1743: Sixteen merchants found a concert society in Leipzig, playing in private homes. Concerts soon have to be held in an inn and by 1750 attract audiences of 300 each. The Gewandhaus concerts begin in 1781 when a concert hall is opened in the "Gewandhaus," the drapers' cloth hall.
Enlarge image (© dpa/picture alliance) 1783: Based on the Paris model, Prussian court kapellmeister Johann Friedrich Reichardt founds the "Concerts spirituels," which begin public concerts for ordinary citizens and – with printed introductory texts and books of lyrics – the production of programs.
1791: In St. Mary's Church, Berlin, men and women of the Singe-Akademie, which was founded by Carl Friedrich Fasch, sing together in public for the first time. This concert provides the impetus for the foundation of mixed choirs all over Germany.
1705: George Frideric Handel’s first opera "Almira, Königin von Kastilien" is premiered in Hamburg in the theatre at Gänsemarkt. While some 20 performances follow, Handel sets off for Italy. In 1710 he becomes kapellmeister at the court of Hanover, before settling in London in 1712.
1776: Following extensive concert tours through Europe, singer, actress, and composer Corona Schröter becomes a chamber musician at the Weimar court through the mediation of Goethe. In 1779 she very successfully stages Goethe's "Iphigenie auf Tauris" at the Weimar Theater.
1778: The Court Orchestra of Mannheim arrives in Bavaria after the Mannheim court moves to Munich. One year earlier, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was inspired by the new sound of the orchestra whose repertoire (Stamitz, Cannabich, etc.) not only revolutionizes how orchestras play, but also opens the way for Classicism.
Enlarge image Scene from Händel´s opera "Radamisto" (© picture-alliance/ dpa) 1800: The premiere of young Ludwig van Beethoven's First Symphony in Vienna is a great success. The composer from Bonn perfects Viennese Classicism and paves the way for Romanticism.
1821: Carl Maria von Weber's "Freischütz" is the first opera production to be staged at the Berlin Schauspielhaus, the new concert hall built by Schinkel at Gendarmenmarkt. The first German Romantic opera is very popular: the song of the "Jungfernkranz" is sung on every street corner.
1823: Singer Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient joins the ensemble of the Dresden Court Opera, of which she is a member until 1847. She performs in several world premieres of Wagner operas, including as Senta in "Der Fliegende Holländer" and as "Venus in Tannhäuser."
1824: The successful international career of Henriette Sontag begins with an engagement at the Königstädtisches Theater in Berlin. At the age of only 17, she sings the title role in Weber's "Euryanthe." Sontag is one of the most important coloratura sopranos of her time and the first star in the modern sense.
1826: At the age of 17, Felix Mendelssohn writes his Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The founder of the first Conservatory in Leipzig dies when he is only 38.
1827: The first German Sängerfest (singers' festival) is held in Württemberg. It also reflects efforts towards national unity, because, according to its statutes, its goals include "training and improvement of German male singing [...] through the unifying force inherent in song."
1832: Ludwig Spohr publishes his Violinschule, which is considered the standard violin textbook of the 19th century. As a violin virtuoso he undertakes extensive tours of Europe. The wide-ranging œuvre of the kapellmeister (from 1822) and director of music (from 1847) at the court in Kassel includes 10 symphonies and 15 violin concertos.
1835: The world premiere of Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 7 is performed at the Leipzig Gewandhaus – with the composer as soloist. Clara Schumann travels all over Europe as a celebrated virtuoso.
1840: Robert Schumann marries Clara Wieck. A "year of piano" is followed by the "year of song." Until his tragic death in 1856 he writes mainly concerts, symphonies and chamber music.
1842: Richard Wagner celebrates his first great operatic success with "Rienzi" in Dresden. In 1843 he becomes royal Saxon court conductor. In 1872, after stays in various other towns, he moves to Bayreuth, where he creates a musical "Gesamtkunstwerk" with the Ring cycle.
Enlarge image Making beautiful music together: The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra with superstar conductor Simon Rattle. (© picture-alliance/dpa) 1842: At the age of 30, Franz Liszt becomes grand ducal kapellmeister in Weimar. He is considered the greatest piano virtuoso of his time and his playing and teaching methods remain influential after his death. His works continue to be played in concert halls today.
1853: Johannes Brahms makes the acquaintance of Clara und Robert Schumann. In an article entitled New Paths Schumann hails Brahms as the future master. Brahms' works (among others, four symphonies, concerts, more than 200 songs) prove him right.
1865: Hans von Bülow conducts the world premiere of "Tristan und Isolde" and then, in 1868, the world premiere of "Die Meistersinger." One year later, his wife Cosima leaves him to live with Richard Wagner, the composer of these two operas. Hans von Bülow is considered the first modern orchestra conductor.1882: Members of Benjamin Bilse’s orchestra in Berlin break away and begin performing as the Berlin Philharmonic. The orchestra receives a magnificent home when the Philharmonie, based on plans by Hans Scharoun, is opened in 1963. Today the Berlin Philharmonic is one of the world’s best known orchestras.
1899: The world premiere of Paul Lincke's "Frau Luna" is performed at the Apollo-Theater in Berlin. This musical comedy, which includes songs such as "Das macht die Berliner Luft, Luft, Luft," begins the history of independent Berlin operetta.
20TH – 21ST CENTURY
Enlarge image Anne-Sophie Mutter (© picture-alliance/ dpa) 1905: Richard Strauss's "Salome" is premiered in Dresden. With this work he opens up new forms of expression in opera.
1907: Max Reger becomes university musical director in Leipzig. Above all, he composes organ and chamber music.
1922: Wilhelm Furtwängler becomes principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. After 1945 the “Furtwängler case” becomes a symbol for the coming to terms with people’s responses to Nazi dictatorship.
1927: Paul Hindemith teaches at the Berlin Musikhochschule. He makes a name for himself as a pioneer of modern music.
1927: Otto Klemperer arrives in Berlin and champions Expressionist musical theater. He emigrates to the USA in 1933.
1928: The success story begins for Kurt Weill's "Threepenny Opera." Weill develops epic theatre with Bertolt Brecht.
1934: Carl Orff composes "Carmina Burana." Today the popular choral work is usually performed as a cantata.
Enlarge image Kraftwerk performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in 2005. (© picture-alliance/dpa) 1934: The Comedian Harmonists publish "Mein kleiner grüner Kaktus." Members of the ensemble flee from the Nazis and go into exile.
1950: The Donaueschingen Festival is held: it is the world’s first festival for contemporary music. Today, the concerts, with their world premieres and premieres, continue to attract international attention.
1951: The Berliner Festwochen event is founded as a retrospective of the Modern period – and soon attracts international attention. From 2005 it continues under the name Musikfest Berlin.
1952: Internationally successful baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau makes his debut in Bayreuth as Wolfram in "Tannhäuser."
1958: Elvis Presley, the king of rock'n'roll, begins his military service at US barracks in Friedberg and is acclaimed by his German fans.
1959: Arnold Schönberg's "Moses und Aron" is premiered at Deutsche Oper Berlin – Gustav Rudolf Sellner's production has groundbreaking impact.
1960: The global success of the British Beatles has its beginnings at the Star Club in Hamburg.
1961: Peter Schreier becomes a member of the Staatsoper in Dresden; the lyrical tenor is one of the most popular singers in his field.
Enlarge image (© dpa - Bildfunk) 1963: Karlheinz Stockhausen becomes director of the Studio for Electronic Music at WDR in Cologne. He has a great influence on new music after the Second World War.
1970: Kraftwerk is formed in Düsseldorf. The band has a major influence on different styles – from hiphop and electro to techno.
1976: Herbert von Karajan discovers the exceptionally talented violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter.
1980: Young musicians form the Ensemble Modern, which is organized on principles of direct democracy. Now based in Frankfurt am Main, the ensemble works closely with contemporary composers.
1983: Nena scores an international hit with "99 Luftballons" – a highlight of Neue Deutsche Welle (New German Wave) of the 1980's.
1986: The first Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival takes place in North Germany – one of the largest classical music festivals.
1988: Bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff wins his first award and begins a successful international career.
Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/dpa) 1989: Scorpions singer Klaus Meine writes and composes the band's most successful song "Wind of Change," which refers to the collapse of the Iron Curtain in Europe.
1994: American music station MTV invites Herbert Grönemeyer to be the first non-English-speaking artist to perform in the MTV Unplugged series.
2007: The opera "Phaedra" is the 20th work of music theatre by composer, music dramatist, conductor and festival organizer Hans Werner Henze.
2010: The Salzburg Festival opens with the premiere of the opera "Dionysos" by Wolfgang Rihm. The composer, who lives in Karlsruhe and Berlin, is honored with a presentation of his works entitled "Kontinent Rihm."
2010: Lena, the winner of a casting show, wins the prestigious Eurovision Song Contest for Germany. It was Germany's first Eurovision victory since 1982.