The German music scene - always at the forefront

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The German music scene - always at the forefront

Classical music has a long and proud tradition in Germany. However, there is also German music beyond Richard Wagner and Johann Sebastian Bach : folk music , jazz and pop music are also very common. Read on for more information about Germany's classical music heritage and other popular musical genres.

Germany's heritage of classical music

Classical music is appreciated throughout Germany. Many children are encouraged to learn a musical instrument or to participate in orchestras and choirs. In addition, many schools in Germany support classical music and teach children about it. The rather serious approach to classical music reflects the national stereotype of German discipline and competence.

Nevertheless, Germans are very proud of their musical heritage. A large number of well-known composers were either born and raised in Germany or lived here and created their musical achievements. As the geographical center of Europe, Germany became one of the most important points for musicians and composers in the Baroque era. Baroque music is inevitably associated with the name and genius of Johann Sebastian Bach. While Ludwig van Beethoven is the most prominent figure in German music of the 19th century, composers such as Richard Wagner and Johannes Brahms are also known to many people.

If you are passionate about classical German music, there are many large orchestras throughout Germany, especially in the larger cities. One of the most popular is the Berlin Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Many universities also have orchestras and chamber orchestras that you shouldn't miss.


Schlager combines elements of traditional German music with popular entertainment. These happy songs are usually apolitical and appeal to an older audience than, for example, youth pop music. But Schlager music is not exclusively designed for older people; Schlager is also very common at the Cologne Carnival or the Munich Oktoberfest. There are also certain radio stations and a number of television shows that still focus on hits.

Political music

Political songs began to appear in the German musical tradition in the 19th century, with lyrics that were often nationalist, liberal, or left-leaning. The Threepenny Opera by Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht contains an extremely popular repertoire of "left" songs. Her most famous track "Mack the Knife" has been covered by artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.

In the GDR, songs played an important role in state propaganda. However, as dissatisfaction with the dictatorial system grew, East German songwriters used their lyrics to offer coded criticism of the ruling SED (Socialist Unity Party of Germany). In the West, the student counterculture sparked a songwriter movement. Two famous musicians from this time are Reinhard Mey and Hannes Wader.


Music lovers around the world may have heard of Germany's most successful all-male vocal ensemble from the 1920s and 1930s, the Comedian Harmonists. Three of the original members were of Jewish descent and therefore had to leave the country to escape the situation in Nazi Germany. A decade after gaining widespread popularity, jazz was declared a banned art form by the fascists.

Nowadays jazz music is quite popular again in Germany. Famous composers and instrumentalists teach at German music colleges, and there are a large number of excellent jazz clubs and regular festivals throughout the country.

Pop music

German music fans largely listen to the same English-language pop music as in other countries. The pop music scene changes frequently, and few bands or singers maintain their popularity over a long period of time. In recent years, various genres and subgenres of music have found their way into contemporary German music. One of the most prominent and lively music styles in Germany today is hip-hop. This genre is often very critical of socio-economic conditions, unemployment and income inequality.

Despite the dominance of English-language music within pop culture, German-language music has also become quite popular. Today, certain bands and musicians take great pride in producing German-language pop, hip-hop and even jazz or reggae music. Unfortunately, only a few of these musicians achieved international recognition. The bands Kraftwerk and Rammstein are well-known outside of Germany, but they hardly represent the diversity within the German music scene.