From Schütz to Orff: Germany is the land of composers

Between 1943 and 1947 the author Thomas Mann wrote a novel about the German psyche. The profession of his main character? A composer. Germany has been a focal point of music composition since the baroque period. The three Bs – Bach, Beethoven, Brahms – are just the tip of the iceberg.

Hailed by his contemporaries as a true genius, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788), the second son of Johann Sebastian Bach, was held in far higher esteem during his own lifetime than his now more famous father. Nicknamed the 'Hamburg Bach', he is considered the most important composer of the Empfindsamer Stil (sensitive style), which marked the transition from the baroque to the classical era.

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Weber's most famous work is Der Freischütz, which established the sound and style of German Romantic opera. The first performance took place in the Schauspielhaus on Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin in 1821 and was conducted by the composer himself.

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Weill's most famous work is The Threepenny Opera, which he wrote in 1928 – whilst only trying to compose 'falsely' in an artificial manner. By 1932 it had been performed in 18 languages.

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Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was a master of modern instrumentation and innovative tone colours. He earned international recognition with operas such as Salome and Elektra, as well as symphonic poems such as An Alpine Symphony and Also sprach Zarathustra.

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Carl Orff (1895-1982) was born into an Upper Bavarian family in Munich. Carmina Burana is the work that made him famous and its scenic choruses, which echo medieval music, have often been used in film music, pop and rock.

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Robert Schumann (1810-1856), the quintessential German Romantic composer, is best known for his piano music and his lieder . Romantic tragedy was not only his domain as a musician, it was also a presence in his all too brief life.

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Born within 40 years of Martin Luther's death, Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) conferred musical greatness on Protestant church music in the German language. He left behind around 500 works – almost exclusively settings of texts from the Luther Bible.

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