Contemporary music, classical, jazz or pop -- Germany’s music scene has something for everyone. Big festivals attract international artists, and German conservatories draw students from around the world.
More than a third of all music conservatory students in Germany come from outside the country. Eastern European and Asian students are particularly keen on studying here. German conservatories teach the classics as well as modern forms.
Today, Ludwig von Beethoven’s compositions are called classical music. But in his day, he was a revolutionary -- his sound was new and unusual, and even difficult to listen to for many.
Germany: modern music hub
Karlheinz Stockhausen's son, Markus, carries on his father's tradition
Now compare that to 20th century’s modern New Music. One proponent of New Music is Karlheinz Stockhausen, considered a grandfather of electronic music. In 1971, he was a music professor at the Conservatory of Cologne, and gave courses at the Darmstadt New Music Summer School -- a weeks-long biennial event that brings musicians from around the world together to teach and learn about modern composition, and premiere new works.
Today, there are many forums for new music in Germany, including concert series and special festivals. One of the oldest of these is the Donaueschinger Music Days. Founded in 1921, it attracts thousands of visitors every year. Classical festivals, too, enjoy great popularity. These include the Wagner Festspiele in Bayreuth, Bach Days in Leipzig, and the Beethoven Festival in Bonn.
Historically, jazz didn’t play a very big role in Germany’s music development. But jazz fans can find a lot to keep them occupied here. There are festivals that feature international stars like Maceo Parker, Herbie Hancock and Pee Wee Ellis.
German pop music gains ground
In the past decade, a serious Big Band scene has developed, led by the public radio stations' jazz orchestras. In 1987, the BundesJazzOrchester (GermanJazzOrchestra) joined the scene under the leadership of jazz trombonist Peter Herbolzehimer. It was also the birthplace of the career of Roger Cicero, who represented Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007.
Beethovenfest is a highlight of the German music season
German pop music has been widely influenced by the United States, and a lot of German acts used to -- and still do -- sing in English. In recent years, however, German bands singing in German have gained in popularity.
In the summer of 2003, the group Wir Sind Helden (We Are Heroes) had a breakthrough, followed by other German pop acts such as Juli, Silbermond, Annett Louisan and Tokio Hotel. And the list goes on.
Meanwhile, established acts like Herbert Groenemeyer, Die Fantastischen Vier, and the Toten Hosen continue to tour the country. Smudo from the Fantastischen Vier occasionally teaches in Germany’s first pop academy in Mannheim, as do Udo Lindenberg and Xavier Naidoo.