Heidelberg is a special place. The felicitous combination of cultural tradition, urban beauty and a delectable topographic location make the town on the Neckar river equally attractive for performers and audiences. In short, ideal conditions for creating a festival. The opening concert of the first Heidelberger Frühling festival took place on 19 March 1997. It was the start of a conception that gradually materialized over the years, the idea of building a festival around performers for whom Heidelberg was not just another entry in their schedule but a place where they could have a hand in masterminding unique concerts year in, year out as part of a growing festival family. It was this and all the developments and presentation formats arising from it that has made the festival into a think tank that has attracted attention nation-wide and internationally. It can fairly be said that Heidelberger Frühling has made a substantial contribution to firmly (re)establishing classical music as an absolutely indispensable feature of our civilization.
2016 is the 20th anniversary of Heidelberger Frühling, time to see what has become of all these ambitious ventures. First and foremost, it is now a festival that encompasses well over 100 events, including the String Quartet Festival in January, a Music Conference that annually assembles the leading lights of the classical music scene and a Festival Academy that in its present form is quite simply unique. Major artists have become adoptive Heidelbergers and return here almost every year to see how their ideas have borne fruit: Thomas Hampson was one of our earliest champions, then came Igor Levit, Jörg Widmann, Matthias Pintscher, Thomas Quasthoff and many others. One thing that unites us all is love of the Lied. Heidelberg is a city of song. So no wonder its music festival has done its best to turn the city into one internationally noted voice championing this very special genre that has so much to give us. And if you still don’t believe me, just go to one (or more) of the concerts under the headings Neuland.Lied, Lied.Lab or Lied Academy.
This idea has genuinely taken shape over the last 20 years. Heidelberger Frühling has developed an unmistakable identity of its own, an identity that attracts more and more people every year from all over the world. It has become an important meeting place and a source of inspiration for music professionals and ordinary music-lovers. And this is not just the usual tub-thumping, as you can see from what others have to say about us:
»Heidelberger Frühling leads the way«
»Superb musicianship and world-class performers«
Neue Zürcher Zeitung
»an individual and important focus on music«
»This is how you organise festivals that are not only well attended but also have highly intelligent programmes on offer. Bravo!«
BBC Music Magazine
»biggest music festival in Baden-Württemberg«
»one of the most innovative … festivals in Germany«
»a front runner in the German festival landscape«
»This is how a festival assures its relevance. They don’t come better than this!«
All this emerges every year a new from a combination of citizens’ commitment and impressive support from major companies and local government. As such, Heidelberger Frühling is living proof that good ideas are not doomed to lie unheeded in a desk-drawer but have a real chance of becoming reality.