Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Leipzig, Germany

Leipzig, with a population of approximately 519,000, is the largest city in the federal state of Saxony, Germany. Since the 17th century, Leipzig has reigned as a major European center of learning and culture, thriving especially in the fields of music, astronomy, and optics.
Leipzig later played a crucial role in the fall of communism in Eastern Germany, through events taken place in and around the Saint Nikolai Church. Following the Reunification of Germany, Leipzig underwent significant change with the restoration of historical buildings and the development of a modern transportation infrastructure. In 2006, the city hosted key matches during the World Cup.
Leipzig was ranked 35th of 265 world cities for cultural, economic, and social innovation in 2009. The following year, the city earned the rank of 68th highest quality of life in the world.
First documented in the 1015, Leipzig has fundamentally shaped by the history of Saxony and the nation of Germany. The city has always held a reputation as a place of great commerce. The Leipzig Trade Fair remains the oldest, and most internationally important, trade fair in the world since its beginning in the Middle Ages. Leipzig probably receives most if its international recognition, however, for its rich and diverse musical history.
Johann Sebastian Bach famously worked in Leipzig from 1723 to 1750. 1813 marked the birth of composer Richard Wagner in Leipzig. Felix Mendelssohn established Germany’ first conservatory of music in Leipzig in 1843, and personally invited Robert Schumann to study there. Gustaz Mahler served as conductor at the Leipzig Theater from 1886 to 1888 where he received great acclamation for completing and presenting Carl Maria von Weber’s opera “Die Drei Pintos.”
The conservatory is now the University of Music and Theater, offering students a broad variety of both performance and education studies in all orchestral instruments, voice, interpretation, coaching, piano chamber music, orchestral and choral conducting, and composition. Musical styles studied at the University include jazz, popular, musical theater, classical, and sacred. The school also hosts a drama department offering classes in acting and dramaturgy.
The city’s musical tradition is also reflected in the worldwide fame of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the choir of the St. Thomas Church. Leipzig has offered for the past sixty years the country’s oldest “School Concert” program, presenting more than 140 concerts annually, educating and inspiring over 40,000 children through music.
Leipzig is also well known for its contemporary, independent music scene and subcultural events. Additionally, the Leipzig Museum of Fine Arts hosts a variety of worldly art, including the Neo Rauch retrospective that opened in April 2010. The New York Times praises Leipzig as the “the toast of the contemporary art world” in the past decade, featuring the city in the Top 10 of its “31 Places to Go” article published, in 2010.  
Leipzig hosts a multitude of annual cultural events throughout the year, including an a capella vocal music festical, Bachfest in honor of Johann Sebastian Bach, the city’s famous holiday Christmas Market, Jazztage contemporary jazz festival, Stadtfest city festival, and the Pop-Up independent music trade fair and festival.

Welcome to Germany

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) with its capital Berlin, is located in Central Europe. The North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea border Germany to the north; Poland and the Czech Republic lay on the eastern border; Austria and Switzerland border on the south, and France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands on the east. There are over 82 million persons living in Germany. And that, for a land about the size of Montana, U.S.A. (Germany is 357,021 km2, slightly less than Montana), making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Even though there are that many people living in Germany, the Germans have succeeded in keeping almost 1/3 (31%) of the country covered with forests and woodlands. And, as you rarely see buildings on top of the mountains, you have the feeling of being surrounded by green vegetation and of wilderness close by. Which makes Germany one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. Even though they have one of the best public transport systems in the world, a lot of Germans own a car. They love cars - just think of famous brands such as BMW, Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, and the Autobahn where you can drive at 180 mph!
Historically nicknamed Das Land der Dichter und Denker, “The Land of Poets and Thinkers,” Germany’s history has been shaped by major intellectual and popular European trends of both religious and secular influence. The strength of German culture has produced such historical figures as Johann Sebastian Bach, novelist Franz Kafka, and poets such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe boasts an exorbitant array of scholarly culture.
Germany’s sixteen states offer 240 subsidized theaters, hundreds of symphony orchestras, thousands of museums, and over 25,000 public libraries. The abundance of culture attracts throngs of tourists each year, resulting in an annual average of 91 million museum visits, 20 million theater and opera attendees, and 3.6 million symphony concert-goers. Germany claims many of the world’s most renowned classical music composers, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms, and Richard Wagner. Since 2006, Germany has been recognized as the fifth largest music market in the world.
There are hundreds of castles in Germany. Some are still inhabited by aristocratic families, others have been transformed into hotels and restaurants, and still others are in ruins.
A popular German saying translates to “breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king, and dine like a beggar.” German cuisine varies according to region. The southern areas of the nation share a culinary culture with Switzerland and Austria. Pork, beef, and poultry are the main source of protein consumption. Meat is often eaten in sausage form. Germany produces more than 1,500 varieties of sausage. You would have to try one kind of German bread per day for almost a whole year in order to be able to taste them all! There are over 300 different kinds of bread in Germany. 
With Germany's newly established comprehensive system of social security, the country continues to develop a very desirable higher standard of living. Germany holds a key position in European affairs as the government strives to perpetually strengthen international relations. Germany is recognized as a leader in many scientific and technological advancements.

Weimar, Germany: A city of culture

Weimar, Germany is best known for its cultural heritage. Located in the federal state of Thuringia southwest of Leipzig, Weimar dates back as far as the year 889. The city previously served as the capital of the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar. Weimar is historically recognized as the locaton of the signing of Germany’s first democratic constitution following World War I, lending its name to the Weimar Republic period of German politics (1918 – 1933). The city was also the focal point of the German Enlightenment and the home of Goethe and Schiller, the prime authors of the literary genre of Weimar Classicism. Additionally, Weimar is the birthplace of the Bauhaus fine arts movement, founded in 1919 by artists Walter Gropius, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Oskar Schlemmer, and Lyonel Feininger. Weimar is home to Germany’s most important musical and theatrical venue, the Deutsche National Theater and Staatskapelle Weimar. The twin institution, consisting of the German National Theater and the symphony orchestra Staatskapelle Weimar, operates a total of six stages throughout the city, hosting touring orchestras and theater companies from throughout the world. Throughout the years, many of Weimar’s historical landmarks have become designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Weimar was even selected by the European Council of Ministers in 1999 as the European Capital of Culture.