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Rheingau Musik Festival

Schloss Johannisberg (2006), venue for concerts of sacred music in the Basilika, chamber music in the F rst-von-Metternich-Saal (East wing), open air concerts in various courts Michael Herrmann, founder and director, 23 August 2011

The Rheingau Musik Festival (RMF) is an international summer music festival in Germany, founded in 1987. It is mostly for classical music, but includes other genres. Concerts take place at culturally important locations, such as Eberbach Abbey and Schloss Johannisberg, in the wine-growing Rheingau region between Wiesbaden and Lorch.[1]


Initiative and realisation

The festival was the initiative of Michael Herrmann, who has served as its Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer. Like the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival founded in 1986, the Rheingau festival was intended to add life to a region rich in musical heritage. The gothic church of Kiedrich houses the oldest playable organ in Germany and has its own "dialect" of Gregorian chant that dates back to 1333. In more recent times, the Rheingau has inspired composers such as Johannes Brahms, who composed his Symphony No. 3 in Wiesbaden and frequently stayed in R desheim, and Richard Wagner, who worked on Die Meistersinger von N rnberg in Biebrich.

To test the festival idea, two concerts took place in Kloster Eberbach in the summer of 1987. In November 1987 the Rheingau Musik Festival e. V. was founded by Michael Herrmann, Tatiana von Metternich-Winneburg, Walter Fink, Michael Bolenius, Hans-Clemens Lucht, Ulrich Rosin and Claus Wisser.[2] The association organized the festival from the first season in 1988 which included 19 concerts until 1992. It has continued to support the festival since.[3] The RMF receives significant financial help from sponsors who choose to fund their own concerts.

The Rheingau Musik Festival is under the patronage of the minister-president of Hesse.[4] Michael Herrmann was awarded the Goethe-Plakette of Hesse in 2002.[5]

The RMF has grown to be one of Germany's important festivals presenting around 140 events every summer with international orchestras, ensembles and soloists.[4] It is a member of the European Festivals Association.

On 17 June 2012, the 25th anniversary of the festival was celebrated at the Kurhaus, Wiesbaden.[6][7]


Eberbach Abbey (2006), venue for concerts of sacred music in the Basilika, chamber music in the Dormitorium and the Laiendormitorium, open air concerts in the cloister

The concerts of the first season took place at Kloster Eberbach, in the hall and church of Schloss Johannisberg, at St. Martin in Lorch (part of the Rhine Gorge World Heritage Site), at the "Rheingau Cathedral" in Geisenheim, and in Wiesbaden at the Marktkirche and the Kurhaus.

Important locations have included Schloss Vollrads, the Abbey St. Hildegard in Eibingen, St. Valentinus in Kiedrich, the romanesque Basilika St. Aegidius of Mittelheim, St. Georg und Katharina in Wiesbaden-Frauenstein, the Parkhotel of the spa Schlangenbad, and the Alte Oper in Frankfurt am Main. Concerts have been staged in churches, castles and former presshouses (Kelterhalle). An annual "Sommerfest" is held at Schloss Johannisberg while other open air concerts have taken place in wineries and vineyards, on river boats, in the cloisters of Eberbach, the courts of Vollrads and the Kurpark Wiesbaden.[1]


Most events are dedicated to classical music, but cabaret, jazz, readings, musical cruises, children's concerts, wine tastings or culinary events with music add to a diverse program.

Opening concert

The Rheingau Musik Festival is traditionally opened in Eberbach Abbey by a concert of the hr-Sinfonieorchester, broadcast live. A cycle of the symphonies of Gustav Mahler, conducted by Paavo J rvi, continued in 2011 with the Fifth Symphony, programmed with Alban Berg's Sieben fr he Lieder, sung by Elena Garanca.[8][9]


Every year, composers' anniversaries are celebrated. In 2009, six concerts were given each to music by Handel, including Israel in Egypt with the Monteverdi Choir under John Eliot Gardiner; by Haydn, including The Creation conducted by Enoch zu Guttenberg; and by Mendelssohn, including Elijah with the Collegium Vocale Gent under Philippe Herreweghe. In 2010, Robert Schumann and Frederic Chopin were celebrated in 16 concerts, such as Das Paradies und die Peri and piano music of Chopin with Daniel Barenboim. Seven concerts were devoted to Mahler and Hugo Wolf, such as Spanisches Liederbuch. Christian Gerhaher and Gerold Huber performed Mahler's Sieben Lieder aus letzter Zeit (Seven Songs of Latter Days) and songs from Das Lied von der Erde. In 2011 they performed the composer's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Des Knaben Wunderhorn and Kindertotenlieder.[10]


Every year, some concerts are grouped around a theme; in 2010, Fernweh, in eight concerts, including one of the ensemble amarcord, in 2011 the opposite: Heimweh.

Treffpunkt Jugend

Soloists still in their teens are presented at the regular "Treffpunkt Jugend" (meeting point youth). They play in two Marathon concerts chamber music and concertos with orchestra.

Work cycles

Some performances are presented over several years, such as the piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven by Rudolf Buchbinder. From 2003 to 2011, Eliahu Inbal conducted a series of the complete symphonies of Bruckner at Eberbach Abbey with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, concluding with the unfinished Ninth Symphony.[11]


Every year on 15 August the Assumption of Mary is celebrated by a Marienvesper (Vespers for the Virgin Mary), in 2010 Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine was performed to mark the 400th anniversary of the work, with the RIAS Kammerchor and the Akademie f r Alte Musik Berlin, conducted by Hans-Christoph Rademann. In 2011 the ensemble Concerto Romano, conducted by Alessandro Quarta, performed a combination of works by composers from Rome, Vincenzo Ugolini (Laudate pueri), Paolo Tarditi (c.1580 1661, Lauda Jerusalem), Domenico Massenzio (d.1650, Ave maris stella), and in particular Lorenzo Ratti (c.1589 1630).[12]

Organ concert

Organ concerts have been played on the historic instruments of the region by organists such as Marie Claire Alain, Gabriel Dessauer, Edgar Krapp and Ignace Michiels.


In 2010 a new series started, presenting artists before their concerts in a separate Rendezvous: Christoph Eschenbach, the percussionist Martin Grubinger and Menahem Pressler. The guests in 2011 were Andreas Scholl[13] and Christian Gerhaher.[10]

Portraits of living composers

A special feature of the RMF is the annual Komponistenportr t, the presentation of a living composer in talk and music. It was initiated by Walter Fink and has been sponsored by him. From the beginning in 1990 the core of this portrait has been the invitation of a composer for an interview with chamber music. The modern ESWE Atrium[14] was a fitting venue, but since a larger audience got interested the talks were moved to Schloss Johannisberg. In later years more concerts were added, sometimes in different locations, sometimes showing the works of the featured composer in relation to other music, concentrating on large scale works since 2005. Some composers have played or conducted themselves.

Closing choral concert

The festival usually concludes with a choral concert in Eberbach Abbey, including rarely performed works. Frieder Bernius conducted in 2005 Penderecki's Polish Requiem,[15] Helmuth Rilling conducted Messa per Rossini in 2001[16] and Messiah of both Sven-David Sandstr m and Handel in 2009.[17]



Artists have included Anne-Sophie Mutter, Alfred Brendel, Mstislav Rostropovitch, the Alban Berg Quartet, Zubin Mehta, and Riccardo Muti.[4] Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau has appeared as a recitator, and Giora Feidman and Bobby McFerrin included their audience in their performance. In 2001, Dave Brubeck and his quartet appeared with the Jacques Loussier Trio.[18] Chick Corea visited in 2009 and jammed with Roy Haynes, whose band had opened the concert.[19] Other artists of 2009 included Colin Davis, Ludwig G ttler, Martha Argerich, Frank Peter Zimmermann and Anne Sofie von Otter.[20] Lorin Maazel conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 and Stravinsky's Le sacre du printemps.

In 2011, the Thomanerchor sang a concert of mostly motets, including Bach's Jesu meine Freude in Eberbach Abbey, part of the choir's tour in its 800th year. Andreas Scholl, born in the Rheingau, made his debut at the festival in three events, an interview, a trip (Rheingaureise) to three churches with different concert programs, and an opera recital with his sister Elisabeth in Eberbach Abbey.[13] The Lautten Compagney performed in concert Handel's opera Rinaldo, 300 years after its premiere.[21] The ensemble Le concert spirituel, conducted by Niquet Herv , performed music for up to 40 voices by Alessandro Striggio, together with music of Orazio Benevoli, Francesco Corteccia, Stefano Fabbri and Claudio Monteverdi.[22][23] Other artists of 2011 included Freddy Cole, Yo-Yo Ma, Mitsuko Uchida, Waltraud Meier, Sabine Meyer, Heinrich Schiff, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Arabella Steinbacher, Daniel M ller-Schott, Xavier de Maistre, Omara Portuondo, Dianne Reeves, Nils Landgren, The King s Singers, the M nchner Philharmoniker with Olli Mustonen and Herbert Blomstedt, and the Windsbacher Knabenchor, among others.[24]

25 years in 2012

25 years RMF, Festakt on 17 June 2012 in the Kurhaus, Wiesbaden On 17 June 2012, the 25th season of the festival was celebrated at the Kurhaus, Wiesbaden, with speeches by Volker Bouffier, Roland Koch and Enoch zu Guttenberg. A concert was played by the hr-Sinfonieorchester and violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, conducted by Paavo J rvi.[6][7]

The 25th season of the festival is celebrated by concerts of "Wegbegleiter" ("Companions along the way"), artists who have appeared regularly from the beginning, such as the Virtuosi Saxoniae, conducted by Ludwig G ttler, the Kammerchor Stuttgart, conducted by Frieder Bernius who had performed the very first concert of the festival, the piano duo Anthony & Joseph Paratore, the boys choir Windsbacher Knabenchor, percussionist Babette Haag, pianists Ewa Kupiec, Gerhard Oppitz, Justus Frantz, Tzimon Barto, Christoph Eschenbach and Oleg Maisenberg, actor Walter Renneisen, the G chinger Kantorei and Bach-Collegium Stuttgart with Helmuth Rilling, and Enoch zu Guttenberg with his ensembles.[25][26]

Other themes of the anniversary season are "Festmusiken" (Festive Music), "Geigenreigen" (Violin Circle) and "Orgeldimensionen" (Organ Dimensions).[25] The Marienvesper was a sequence of works by Alessandro Melani, performed by Das kleine Konzert and the Rheinische Kantorei, conducted by Hermann Max, with soloists Veronika Winter, Franz Vitzthum, Hans J rg Mammel and Markus Flaig, among others. The music was contrasted by Monteverdi's Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, with James Gilchrist.[27]

Rheingau Musikpreis

In 1994 the festival initiated the Rheingau Musikpreis that has been awarded annually for musical achievements, to

Broadcast and recordings

Many concerts have been conducted in collaboration with broadcasting stations, namely Hessischer Rundfunk. Selected events were recorded, including:[29]


External links

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