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Music Conservatory Puts Its Heart in Seoul

DW staff (jen)March 10, 2005

Germany is known as an exporter of cars, precision machinery and beer. Now, one school is forging a path toward a new export: the country's impressive classical music legacy.

Roll over, Beethoven: High culture is Germany's latest exportImage: Internationales Beethovenfest Bonn

The Franz Liszt Conservatory in Weimar has decided to benefit from Germany's reputation as the cradle of classical music by exporting it.

German music conservatories are so well respected abroad that a good chunk of their student body is young Asian musicians looking to get an education stamped "made in Germany."

"German music is very highly valued in South Korea," Christian Thimme, the department chair for German technical colleges at the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD,) told AP news service.

High demand

Some 30 to 40 percent of students at German conservatories are from countries other than Germany. Each year, around 7,000 young musicians from South Korea apply to study in Germany, but only 6 percent of them are accepted, the DAAD said.

Franz von Liszt
Hungarian pianist and composer Franz von LisztImage: dpa

Given these figures, the Franz Liszt Music Conservatory in Weimar came up with the idea to open a branch of its music school in South Korea. This week, it signed a contract with Kangnam University in Seoul. According to the conservatory, it is the first permanent German music conservatory abroad.

Starting last week, students were able to embark upon an eight semester course with a focus on piano, violin, cello, flute, clarinet, singing or directing, the conservatory said.

Result: Bachelor's degree

Classes will be taught in German and Korean, with teachers from both countries. Upon completing the course, students will be awarded a Bachelor's Degree with a major in music, which will be recognized in Korea and Germany.

Student fees are €3,300 ($4,427) per semester.

A spokesman for the Liszt Conservatory in Weimar said he expects high demand from within Korea.

The project was initially funded with contributions equalling €530,000 ($707,000) from the DAAD, the German Ministry for Education and Research, the Ministry of Culture of the state of Thuringia, and the Franz Liszt Conservatory in Weimar. Kangnam University, which is private, has contributed an equal amount that went toward the construction and furnishing of the class and practice rooms.