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Halle: From Handel to the Beatles

Halle, in the eastern Germany state of Saxony Anhalt, is not only the birthplace of famous Classical composer George Friedrich Handel, it's also home to the country's largest Beatles museum.

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A bird's eye view of Halle's Old Town

Halle is perhaps best-known for its contribution to the world of music.

As the birthplace of George Friedrich Handel (1685-1759), the city has made the most out of its connection to one of the greatest composers of the Classical era. The city’s annual music festival is named after him, as is the Handel House museum, which showcases the life and work of Handel and other local composers.

The city’s new concert hall also bears the name of Halle’s most famous son. The George Friedrich Handel Hall, which opened in October 1998, is a contemporary architectural composition housing a state-of-the-art concert hall with seating for 2,000 guests and several smaller conference rooms.

A piece of Abbey Road

Händelhalle

Handel Hall in Halle

But Halle’s music tradition goes beyond Handel. The boys' choir, which was founded in a local monastery, dates back to 1116 and is Germany’s oldest continually existing boys' choir. Today the choir gives concerts of works by both classical and modern composers.

And lest one think Halle is only associated with classical music, the city is also the home of Germany’s biggest Beatles museum. The collection traces the life of the Beatles members all the way up to their solo careers and features music clippings, fan memorabilia and historic posters.

Island theaters

Stadtsingechor zu Halle

The famous "Stadtsingechor" boy's choir

Stages in Halle aren't just for musicians. For a city of its size (about 245,000) Halle packs quite a wide choice of theaters. Steintor Varieté, for example, was founded in 1889 and is the oldest variety and cabaret-type theater of its kind in Germany.

The city’s cultural heart is the Kulturinsel or cultural island in the center of the city. With its concentration of performing and visual arts, this small district offers something for everyone. The Neues Theater forms the anchor of the cultural complex, and its four stages showcase everything from classical productions and contemporary drama to musical reviews and dance parties.

For those looking for a socially critical laugh, Halle’s Kiebitzensteiner Kabarett is the place to be. The performance hall in the downtown shopping arcade claims to offer entertainment coupled with intellectual stimulation.

Opera, jazz -- and street cars

Halle/Saale Marktplatz

Halle Market Place

Visitors can also enjoy performances at the Opera House. Built in a neo-classical style, it's the largest stage performance venue in Halle and specializes in opera, operetta, ballet and musicals.

Jazz lovers should visit Halle in October to enjoy the annual international Jazz Festival in the Moritzburg. The festival set up by the student organization "Studentenclub Turm" has a wide-ranging and eclectic program of traditional and modern jazz.

Music and theater aren't Halle's only claims to fame. It also boasts two of the longest tram lines: Numbers 5 and 95. In total, about 77 kilometers (48 miles) of track weave through the city, bringing Halle residents to work and school each day -- or to the next show.

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