“Es ist nicht wichtig, ob der Mensch vom Affen abstammt; viel wichtiger ist, daß er nicht…

“Es ist nicht wichtig, ob der Mensch vom Affen abstammt; viel wichtiger ist, daß er nicht wieder dorthin zurückkehrt.”

Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883), deutscher Komponist

History of the Origins of Schloss NeuschwansteinLudwig II, King…

History of the Origins of Schloss Neuschwanstein

Ludwig II, King of Bavaria since 1864, addressed the following lines to the man he so greatly admired, famous German classical composer Richard Wagner:

“It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau near the Pöllat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles, and I must confess to you that I am looking forward very much to living there one day (in 3 years); there will be several cosy, habitable guest rooms with a splendid view of the noble Säuling, the mountains of Tyrol and far across the plain; you know the revered guest I would like to accommodate there; the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world. It will also remind you of “Tannhäuser” (Singers’ Hall with a view of the castle in the background), “Lohengrin’” (castle courtyard, open corridor, path to the chapel); this castle will be in every way more beautiful and habitable than Hohenschwangau further down, which is desecrated every year by the prose of my mother; they will take revenge, the desecrated gods, and come to live with Us on the lofty heights, breathing the air of heaven.”

Almost all the aspects of Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein are mentioned here. What is not mentioned, however, is the political reason for building: in 1866 Bavaria, allied with Austria, had lost a war against the expanding Prussia. Bavaria was forced to accept a “defensive and offensive alliance”, which removed the king’s right to dispose over his army in case of war. From 1866, therefore, Ludwig II was no longer a sovereign ruler. This limitation was the biggest misfortune of his life. In 1867 he began planning his own kingdom, in the form of his castles and palaces, where he could be a real king. Read more/official website.

Die Semperoper in Dresden, Sachsen, Eastern Germany is the opera…

Die Semperoper in Dresden, Sachsen, Eastern Germany is the opera house of the Sächsische Staatsoper (Saxon State Opera), the concert hall of the Staatskapelle (Saxon State Orchestra), and it’s home to the Semperoper ballet. The building is located near the Elbe River in Dresden’s historic center. It was built in 1841 and rebuilt after a fire in 1869. It has a long history of premieres, including major works by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. Read more.

Illustration by Harry Clarke for Goethe’s FaustFaust is…

Illustration by Harry Clarke for Goethe’s Faust

Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend – a scholar who’s highly successful yet dissatisfied with his life, which leads him to make a pact with the devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. The Faust legend has been the basis for many literary, artistic, cinematic, and musical works that have reinterpreted it through the ages. “Faust” and the adjective “Faustian” imply a situation in which an ambitious person surrenders moral integrity in order to achieve power and success for a delimited term. 

The Faust of early books—as well as the ballads, dramas, movies, and puppet-plays which grew out of them—is irrevocably damned because he prefers human to divine knowledge; “he laid the Holy Scriptures behind the door and under the bench, refused to be called doctor of Theology, but preferred to be styled doctor of Medicine”. Plays and comic puppet theater loosely based on this legend were popular throughout Germany in the 16th century, often reducing Faust and Mephistopheles to figures of vulgar fun. The story was popularized in England by Christopher Marlowe, who gave it a classic treatment in his play, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (1604). In Goethe’s reworking of the story 200 years later, Faust becomes a dissatisfied intellectual who yearns for “more than earthly meat and drink” in his life. Read more.

Faust has inspired major works in classical music:

How is J.S. Bach regarded in German history? Is he well remembered, or some sort of a footnote?

Bach definitely still has a place in German society today – so does classical music in general. There’s an annual Bach Festival in Leipzig, you can read about it here. There also is a Bach Museum in Leipzig and the Bach Haus in Eisenach. His music is regularly performed by orchestras around the country and in churches (click) & click here too. 

Beethoven Flashmob Mensa Heidelberg “Beethovens 9. Sinfonie in…

Beethoven Flashmob Mensa Heidelberg 

“Beethovens 9. Sinfonie in der zeugheus-Mensa. Am 5.2.2015 überraschten die Musiker vom Collegium Musicum Heidelberg mit einem Flashmob zur Mittagszeit die Besucher.”

Beethoven’s 9th symphony flashmob happening in a university cafeteria in Heidelberg.

In Germany, coffeehouses were first established in North Sea…

In Germany, coffeehouses were first established in North Sea ports, including Bremen (1673) and Hamburg (1677). Initially, this new beverage was written in the English form coffee, but during the 1700s the Germans gradually adopted the French word café, then slowly changed it to the word Kaffee. In the 18th century the popularity of coffee gradually spread around the German lands, and was taken up by the ruling classes. Coffee was served at the court of the Great Elector, Frederick William of Brandenburg, as early as 1675, but the first public coffee house in his capital, Berlin, opened only in 1721. Composer Johann Sebastian Bach, who was cantor of St. Thomas Church, Leipzig (1723-50), conducted a musical ensemble at Café Zimmermann in that Saxon city. He composed the secular “Coffee Cantata” Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, in which a young woman pleads with her disapproving father to accept her devotion to drinking coffee, then a newfangled fashion. The libretto includes such lines as:

Ei! wie schmeckt der Coffee süße,
Lieblicher als tausend Küsse,
Milder als Muskatenwein.
Coffee, Coffee muss ich haben,
Und wenn jemand mich will laben,
Ach, so schenkt mir Coffee ein!

(Oh! How sweet coffee does taste, Better than a thousand kisses, Milder than muscat wine. Coffee, coffee, I’ve got to have it, And if someone wants to perk me up, Oh, just give me a cup of coffee!)