In Thuringia you will find a cultural landscape as rich and diverse as nowhere else. Theaters and orchestras in Weimar, Nordhausen, Sondershausen and other cities make Thuringia an important theater region. Impressive productions and unforgettable events have been part of Thuringia’s history for centuries.
Here are some of the most impressive venues, their past and present.
The German National Theater and the Staatskapelle Weimar (short DNT) is the most important stage of Weimar.
Photo: Rasmus Schübel, TTG
The DNT offers three branches of the theater - drama, music theater and dance theater - as well as concerts. There is a total of six stages throughout the city, including the new Weimarhalle congress center.
Photo: Andreas Mey, weimar GmbH
In front of the fabulous backdrop of the Castle in Sondershausen a soulful, colourful music theater takes place every year: The Schlossfestspiele Sondershausen – the castle festival. Accompanied by the prestigious Loh Orchestra Sondershausen, one of the oldest cultural orchestras in Germany, the festival has become a magnet for visitors. Experience unforgettable summer evenings with open-air opera and musical.
Photo: Tilmann Graner, Theater Nordhausen / Loh-Orchesterer Sondershausen GmbH
About the orchestra from the park
The former residence castle of the previous rulers of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen lies majestically above the roofs of the town. The complex is surrounded by the Lohpark, a pleasure garden designed in the style of English landscape gardens. From 1806 concerts of the royal music ensemble took place in the park and were open to the public. Conveniently, they were called “Loh-Concerts” which later led to the naming “Loh-Orchestra” for the band, after the abdication of the prince in 1918.
The Loh Orchestra greatly influenced the music scene in Germany in the 19th century by promoting an international breakthrough of the music of Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner. Court orchestra conductor Eduard Stein popularised the works of those composers.
From 1825 to 1830 the Loh-concerts presented over 250 opera performances; significant singers from major German cities gave guest performances. The orchestra with its concert performances and the theater as an opera stage became a household name all over Germany. An outstanding success was Wagner's Flying Dutchman in 1871. In following years more opera productions made it to the stage, including Fidelio and Lohengrin.
Since 1991 the Loh-Orchester has been part of the Theater Nordhausen / Loh-Orchester Sondershausen GmbH. Today it offers its visitors an exciting, varied programme to create emotional moments. See for yourself.
The Staatskapelle Weimar can look back on a long history. It was founded in 1491 as a court orchestra and was always subject to the inclinations and whims of the respective ruler over the last centuries. Only in 1602 the orchestra finally found its permanent home in Weimar after a inconsistent life of wandering from residence to residence. From the 19th century, significant personalities of music history worked in leading positions of the orchestra, including Mozart's student Johann Nepomuk Hummel. Also Franz Liszt was involved as a court conductor and brought Wagner's "Tannhäuser" to the stage in 1849.
The orchestra saw a quality boost with the help of second conductor Richard Strauss between 1889 and 1889. In 1919, the orchestra was renamed the “Weimar Staatskapelle” but didn’t last for too much longer after the seizing power of the National Socialists. Under the direction of general music director Hermann Abendroth, a newly formed Staatskapelle developed after 1945 in a short time, quickly regaining considerable size and quality and growing into a leading German orchestra.
Caring for tradition
Today, the Staatskapelle Weimar focuses on the combination of tradition and innovation and guarantees to continue the great late-Romantic opera tradition at DNT Weimar. Numerous CD recordings reflect the diverse, ever-expanding repertoire from Mozart to Liszt and Strauss to modern music. Internationally renowned soloists and conductors are among the regular crew of guest performances.
The Staatskapelle Weimar offers a variety of concerts, including top-class symphony concert series, film- and chamber concerts, a wide range of concerts for children and the younger audience as well as summer open-air concerts.
Meininger Court Orchestra
The Meininger court orchestra (Meininger Hofkapelle) is one of the oldest and most traditional ensembles in Europe. It was founded in the 17th century by Duke Bernhard I and initially consisted of individual singers and instrumentalists. The composer Georg Caspar Schürmann conducted the orchestra between 1707 and 1711 and performed primarily operas composed by himself. Johann Ludwig Bach, called the “Meininger Bach”, followed in Schürmann’s position. He and his successors, Gotthold Friedrich and Johann Philipp Bach, focussed on church music.
Golden age and wind of change
Thanks to the initiative of concert master Friedhold Fleischhauer first contact between Meiningen and Richard Wagner was established. Upon request of Wagner, the court orchestra set the main contingent of the Festival Orchestra at the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876, which led to the annual particpation of the Meininger musicians at the festival in the following years. The arrival of Hans von Bülow in 1880 marked another crucial step in the history of the orchestra: for the first time, works by Liszt, Wagner and other "new Germans" were performed in Meiningen. Bülow heralded the start of the ongoing tradition of performing the works of Brahms. In plenty tireless rehearsals he developed the Meininger Hofkapelle into a European elite orchestra.