Saxony’s Sound of Music

Enjoy the rich musical tradition in the Cultural Heart of Germany this year

Opera of Leipzig – Photo Kirsten Nijhof


From boys’ choirs to jazz on paddle steamers via Wagner’s Ring cycle and celebrating the genius of Bach: This year, music lovers will only have to pencil in Dresden and Leipzig to enjoy some of the best ensembles, orchestras and artists worldwide, with the two cities in Germany’s Saxony region being more than alive with the sound of music.

Dresden – music on land and water

Dresden Music Festival (5 May – 5 June), an annual favourite, has chosen the theme “Time” for its 2016 programme and Michael Nyman, English composer of minimalist music and known for his film scores, will kick off proceedings with his band on the “Long Night of Time” on 5 May. The launch night takes the shape of a so-called “Wandelkonzert” in Dresden’s popular “Hygiene Museum”, with the audience being invited to wander from one performance to the next.

Also in May (15 to 22), the International Dixieland Festival will seriously jazz things up with blues, boogie and swing galore. Don’t miss the “Riverboat Shuffle” event (19 May), a highlight each year with bands playing on the paddle steamers of the Saxon Paddle Steam Company. Incidentally, the world’s oldest and biggest paddle steamer fleet is also celebrating its 180th anniversary this year.

More reason to celebrate: The Kreuzchor boys’ choir, one of the world’s oldest, marks its 800th anniversary with a number of concerts and special performances throughout the year. As the choir of the city’s Kreuzkirche (Church of the Holy Cross), the 130 voices of the choir members regularly turn church services into special musical occasions. In the anniversary year, visitors can enjoy ten days of concert highlights from 15 to 24 April, plus further special performances throughout the year, such as in the park of Dresden’s beautiful baroque treasure Pillnitz Castle (15 May) or an open-air concert with the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra (19 Aug).

Leipzig – Wagner bonanza & organ maverick

With the premiere of Richard Wagner’s “Twilight of the Gods“ on 30 April, Leipzig Opera is going to have the first complete Ring cycle in its repertoire after more than 40 years. From 5 to 8 May, it’ll then be staged in its entirety on four consecutive days and Leipzig Opera is the only theatre in the whole of Germany to undertake this feat in 2016. The city’s Wagner Festival (19-26 May) focuses on the composer’s three early works “The Fairies”, “The Ban on Love” and “Rienzi”.

From 11 to 20 May, Leipzig will also put a spotlight on the work of German composer, pianist and organist Max Reger and the 100th anniversary of his death will be commemorated with a series of organ concerts, chamber music nights as well as a central performance by the Gewandhaus orchestra on 19 May. Reger, who is particularly known for his organ pieces, worked in Leipzig for many years and died there in 1916. This year’s Leipzig Bach Festival (10-19 June) commemorates the composer, too, highlighting the connection between Reger and Bach: The former studied the latter’s work intensively and famously said „I owe simply everything to Bach“. An open-air performance by Julliard-trained, Grammy-nominated organist Cameron Carpenter, who has made a name for himself in the classical music world for flaunting the rules, promises to be a highlight of the festival.

For a music festival with a love story at heart, don’t miss Leipzig’s Schumann Festival week (10 to 18 Sep) which takes place every year around Robert and Clara Schumann’s wedding day on 12 September and celebrates the life and work of this extraordinary artist couple.

Easy access to the Cultural Heart of Germany: Ryanair to Leipzig and all major airlines to Berlin.

Saxony Tourism


The Cultural Heart of Germany