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Herrenchiemsee Festpiele

Dear audience, dear music lovers,

it is both a great pleasure and an honour to present the anniversary season programme of the 2020 Herrenchiemsee Festival. 20 years of the Herrenchiemsee Festival – 20 years of "A World Away" means it is time to reflect on a long period of great success, with some unforgettable musical experiences and extraordinary programme offerings. In this anniversary year, no thematic focus dominates events. Rather, it is the festival itself – with an unmistakable profile, the highest artistic standards and the unique ambience provided by one of the most important cultural and historical locations in Germany – that takes centre stage. 

What began in 2000 with a seven-day "Bach Festival" initiated by Enoch zu Guttenberg and his dramatic adviser Klaus Jörg Schönmetzler has led to an internationally renowned festival. The programme at the Herrenchiemsee Festival has always reflected the special magic of the setting – a monastic tradition spanning one and a half millennia, a world-famous Royal Palace and the birthplace of the Constitution of the modern Federal Republic of Germany. 

The spirit of European humanism that has shaped the festival from the very beginning is, of course, also reflected in the programme for the 2020 anniversary season. A distinct cycle of four concerts is dedicated to Ludwig van Beethoven, whose 250th birthday the world of music commemorates in 2020. Beethoven's great symphonies, instrumental concertos and chamber music works, which are to be found in the 2020 Festival programme, have become the medium of their creator’s social values and convictions, shaped by the democratic ideals of Ancient Greece and Kant's philosophy of the Enlightenment. In Beethoven, the Festival truly has a kindred spirit. Johann Sebastian Bach and Anton Bruckner, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Schubert are also at the programme’s heart, which references and illuminates numerous highlights of past years. 

Furthermore, in Monteverdi's "Vespro della Beata Vergine" the Herrenchiemsee Festival takes us back to the early days of European music history with one of the most groundbreaking works to emerge from the period between the Renaissance and the Baroque. The additional focus on the works of Henry Purcell's recalls the "Orpheus Britannicus", the collection of songs whose formative influences on the musical language of continental Europe was felt far beyond the Baroque and continues to the present day. In order to breathe new life into three centuries of music, numerous renowned ensembles, vocal soloists, instrumental virtuosos and conductors are ready to provide their inspiring interpretations during this anniversary season. 

In addition to looking back at the Herrenchiemsee Festival’s successful 20-year history, we have an obligation to the future to maintain our support of this heritage, so rich in tradition, and to continue to do justice to the history of the performance venues. Tradition and modernity are not opposites, because the great themes of the past are also those of the future. When Ludwig II acquired the island for the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1873 he proved to be an ecologically pioneering monarch, stepping in at the last-minute to save the ancient trees and prevent the island’s deforestation… And in 1948 the island was the meeting place of the Constitutional Convention which gave Germany its modern Constitution and a new democratic legal basis after the barbarity of the Nazi dictatorship.

We warmly invite you to celebrate 20 years of festival history with us!


Josef Kröner

Executive programme director



Internationale Herrenchiemsee Festspiele gemeinnützige GmbH
Am Gasteig 7 • D-83115 Neubeuern • GERMANY • Telefon 08035-1031 •