Cultural life in Germany: An Overview

Shooting star 'Sibel Kekilli' - a German actress of Turkish origin Enlarge image Shooting star 'Sibel Kekilli' - a German actress of Turkish origin (© dpa) Gutenberg, Dürer, Goethe & Schiller, Bach & Beethoven, Kant & Hegel, – the cultural life of Germany has a long, vigorous and exuberant tradition. Nowadays, names like painter Gerhard Richter, film director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, actress Sibel Kekilli, or fashion icon Heidi Klum, just to name a few examples, stand for a lively, many-faceted cultural scenery. Its diversity and dynamism emanate from the fruitful and liberal coexistence of all the citizens of Germany, who often come from diverse backgrounds. An outstanding highlight was the Nobel Prize of Literature awarded to German writer Herta Müller in 2009.

Musicals in Hamburg, modern ballet in Wuppertal, contemporary paintings in Berlin or theatre in Weimar – art and culture are there to be experienced all over Germany. The level of interest is high: around 35 million spectators attend more than 100,000 theatre productions and more than 7,000 concerts year by year. And if you do not want to see Goethe’s ‘Faust’ or hear Beethoven’s symphonies, you could step into pre-history, wonder about the world of crafts and design, or dwell on the latest artistic trends in one of the 630 art museums. After Düsseldorf and Munich, Berlin is becoming an important fashion hub of Germany.

Germany is the custodian of a rich cultural heritage

Oktoberfest München Enlarge image (© picutre-alliance/ dpa) In all parts of the country, testimonies to a rich cultural heritage can be found. These include not only the works of the great German ‘poets and thinkers’ and the castles and stately homes that pepper the whole country, but also modern product design, historical city parks and housing developments from the nineteen twenties.

In Germany there are many large and small cultural centres. A varied cultural life is played out even in the small towns. This is because of the federal structure of the country. The Basic Law confers upon the federal states the right and responsibility to promote culture. For this reason there has never been a Ministry of Culture at national level. A State Minister for Culture coordinates activities in the field of cultural policy. Only since 1999, State Minister for Culture and Media has been a part of the Federal Chancellery. Monika Grütters has been Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media since 2013.

Thirty cultural sites in Germany have been declared world cultural heritage sites by Unesco. This includes Aachen cathedral, the Würzburger Residence and classical Weimar, the city of Goethe and Schiller. As centres of unique atmosphere and great historical value, they provide the opportunity to learn more about the life and culture of the German people in past centuries.

Monika Grütters has been Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media since 2013 Monika Grütters Enlarge image Monika Grütters (© picture alliance/dpa)

Forty cultural sites in Germany have been declared world cultural heritage sites by Unesco. This includes Aachen cathedral, the Würzburger Residence and classical Weimar, the city of Goethe and Schiller. As centres of unique atmosphere and great historical value, they provide the opportunity to learn more about the life and culture of the German people in past centuries.

A vibrant music and theatre scene

Till Brönner Enlarge image the German artist Till Brönner performs live (© dpa) Music has always been a number-one priority in Germany. Nowadays more than 130 professional orchestras vie for the attention of countless music fans. Opera houses, even in small towns, offer an extensive repertoire. Festivals like the Bayreuth Festspiele and the Bach Festival in Leipzig constitute further examples of large-scale events that attract international audiences. The modern music scene is equally vibrant: Musicals, rock-pop events or jazz concerts are on the programme just about everywhere.

Literature, too, can be experienced ‘live’ in many places. And not merely at the Frankfurt Book Fair, that has developed into the main springboard for the works of young men and women authors. Readings can be heard everywhere: in bookshops, at literature festivals and on small and large stages. In addition to the works of contemporary authors, it is there that the classical literature flame is kept burning, in particular. And with great success: Goethe’s ‘Faust’ is still the play that is performed most often in Germany.

Germany is one of the major book nations, with around 94,000 new books and re-editions each year. The 350 dailies and thousands of magazines go to show how lively the German media world is. Moreover, German films are once again a great success at home and abroad.

Cultural life in Germany: An Overview

"House of the Cultures of the World" in Berlin is Germany's national centre for contemporary non-European art.

German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kultur Stiftung des Bundes)

German Federal Culture Foundation

The German Federal Cultural Foundation promotes and sources art and culture within the framework of federal responsibility. Promotion of innovative programmes and projects in an international context are its core areas of focus. In addition, the Foundation supports the German Cultural Promotion Funds which include the Arts Fund Foundation, the Performing Arts Fund, the German Literature Fund, the German Translator Fund and the Socio-Cultural Fund.

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The House of World Cultures - Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)

"House of the Cultures of the World" in Berlin is Germany's national centre for contemporary non-European art.

The Haus der Kulturen der Welt is a place for international contemporary arts and a forum for current developments and discourse. Located in the capital city of Berlin, it presents artistic productions from around the world, with a special focus on non-European cultures and societies. Visual arts, music, literature, performing arts, film, academic discussions and digital media are all linked in an interdisciplinary programme that is unique in Europe. The Haus brings together artistic and social relationships in a special network that extends throughout and beyond Berlin. Here visitors can experience art as the practice of experimenting, questioning and discovering.

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The Goethe Institut: Guide to the German Cultural Landscapes

Goethe Institute

The Goethe-Institut's online portal gives an insight on the history and current happenings in the German cultural world. The guide furnishes its readers not only with fascinating feature stories, but also with children and youth literature; information on the cultural events in Germany; a list of annotated links for more information on German books, publishing, musical life in Germany, Theatre and Film and much more.

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German Nobel Prize winners in Literature

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