8th Elysium Festival May 25 - June 3, 2012

A Word from the Artistic Director of the Elysium Festival Bernried


Dear Friends,

From May 25 through June 3, 2012, our 8th Elysium Festival and our 17th International Summer Academy for Young Singers take place in Bernried on the shores of Lake Starnberg south of Munich / Germany. All the events of this year’s festival are devoted to the great German poet Heinrich Heine.

Like almost no other German writer, Heine, throughout his life, sat between many chairs: He was torn between his native country Germany and his adoptive home France. Born a Jew, he later converted to Protestantism, without ever having practiced either religion. The history of literature does not count him as an exponent of romanticism any more, yet he also cannot be regarded totally as a representative of realism. And politically? On the one hand he was a friend of Karl Marx and was inspired by the early socialist movement of Saint-Simon in France; on the other hand he adored Napoleon as the “ingenious executive director of the Weltgeist”. One of Heine’s biggest admirers was the Austrian Empress Elisabeth. She venerated Heine to such a degree, that she wanted to donate a Heine-statue to the city of Hamburg. But Hamburg declined the offer, and so Elisabeth erected the Heine monument in the park of her castle on the island of Korfu.

Heine was a passionate champion of the ideas which today we consider to be the foundation of any democracy: the French revolutionary trio of freedom, equality and brotherhood, and of human rights. His travelogues, his poetry collections, his novels, and his political writings attest to his cosmopolitan spirit. Time and again, his curiosity prompted him to look beyond his own horizon. No other German writer has inspired as many composers to set his poems to music. There are more than 6,800 compositions which are based on texts by Heinrich Heine: Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Liszt, and numerous other composers have set Heine’s poems to music.

Certainly enough material for an exciting cycle of events!

With best wishes and regards,

Gregorij H. von Leïtis