Darmstadt summer courses

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Course with Karlheinz Stockhausen 1957

The Darmstadt Summer Courses , officially the International Summer Courses for New Music , are a biennial multi-week event in Darmstadt where composers and instrumentalists explore and convey the latest trends in New Music in seminars and concerts .

The organizer of the summer courses is the International Music Institute Darmstadt (IMD), which before 1963 was called the Kranichstein Music Institute.


The holiday courses were founded in 1946 by Wolfgang Steinecke (then cultural advisor and head of the cultural office of Darmstadt), who directed them until his death in 1961. The other directors were Ernst Thomas (1962–1982) and Friedrich Hommel (1981–1994). From 1995 to 2008, Solf Schaefer organized the courses. At the beginning of 2009, Thomas Schäfer was appointed the new Artistic Director and Director of the IMD.

Initially, the holiday courses took place annually and lasted around twelve days each; since 1970 they have been held every two years, but extended to two to three weeks. The first venue was Kranichstein Castle near Darmstadt; public buildings have been in use in Darmstadt since 1949.

The holiday courses were founded, among other things, out of a need to catch up, as the international developments in Germany were systematically suppressed by the National Socialists after 1933 . The first years were then also under the sign of the processing; many works by Arnold Schönberg , Anton Webern , Igor Stravinsky , Béla Bartók and others were performed here for the first time in Germany, decades late.

The summer courses were the first functioning forum for contemporary music in Germany after the Second World War and, thanks to the lively attendance of internationally recognized lecturers such as Theodor W. Adorno , René Leibowitz , Heinz-Klaus Metzger and later Carl Dahlhaus and Rudolf Stephan, became an institution for advanced composition and its critical reflection. In particular, visits by “creators of new music” such as Edgard Varèse , Olivier Messiaen , Ernst Krenek and John Cage , who presented their aesthetics in great detail in composition courses, led to the international reputation of this institution.

The courses were shaped, however, by the composers Karlheinz Stockhausen , Pierre Boulez and Luigi Nono (later Helmut Lachenmann and Brian Ferneyhough ), who determined the discussion about the avant-garde - the state of contemporary composing - thanks to their radical thinking and their theories; they were later misunderstood as the “Darmstadt School”.

A number of well-known performers passed on newly invented playing techniques to young musicians, who in turn performed the freshly created works of the up-and-coming composers in so-called "studio concerts". The Kranichstein Music Prize for up-and-coming performers and from 1972 also for composers gained importance.

Thanks to the participation of other institutions, especially public broadcasters, a large number of works that are still important today have premiered over the years.

Selection literature

  • Darmstadt Contributions to New Music , published by the Darmstadt International Music Institute. Between 1958 and 1994, 20 issues (most of which contain lectures and statistics) were published. Fundamental writings on New Music appeared here for the first time.
  • From Kranichstein to the present 1946 - 1996. 50 years of Darmstädter Ferienkurse , Darmstadt 1996. A kind of catalog that contains many memories and vivid descriptions of those involved from the various decades of the courses.
  • Im Zenit der Moderne , 4 volumes, edited by Gianmario Borio and Hermann Danuser, Freiburg 1997. Extensive material collection of key texts and images, as well as detailed documentation of all seminars and concerts.
  • MusikKonzepte Special Volume Darmstadt-Documents I , Edition Music and Criticism 1999. Also an extensive collection of documents.


  • The label col legno has been publishing documentation CDs with selected works for several years, mostly world premieres and German premieres.

Individual evidence

  1. Information on the holiday courses on the IMD website
  2. Table of the award winners on the IMD website (PDF; 113 kB)

Web links

Commons : Darmstädter Ferienkurse  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files