Music of Germany


Forms of German music include Neue Deutsche Welle (NDW), krautrock, volksmusic, German hip hop, Schlager and multiple varieties of folk music. The beginning of what is now considered German music could be traced back to the 12th century compositions of mystic abbess Hildegard of Bingen, who wrote a variety of hymnsand other kinds of Christian music

Folk music

Germany has many unique regions with their own folk traditions of music and dance. Much of the 20th century saw German culture appropriated for the ruling powers (who fought "foreign" music at the same time), and thus it remained decidedly "unhip" until later in the century. Most recently, the East German regime promoted folk music as long as it was what they saw as an expression of pure German tradition, and a tool for spreading party propaganda.

In both East and West Germany, folk songs called volkslieder were taught to children; these were popular, sunny and optimistic, and had little relation to authentic German folk traditions. Inspired by American and British roots revivals, Germany underwent many of the same changes following the 1968 student revolution in West Germany, and new songs, featuring political activism and realistic joy, sadness and passion, were written and performed on the burgeoning folk scene. In East Germany, the same process did not begin until the mid-70s, when folk musicians began incorporating revolutionary ideas in coded songs.

Popular folk songs included emigration songs from the 19th century, work songs and songs of apprentices, as well as democracy-oriented folk songs collected in the 1950s by Wolfgang Steinitz. German performers included, from both East and West, Oktoberclub, Wacholder and Hannes Wader.

Volksmusik is typically sung by one or more people, especially a duet, and is very popular among older people in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Oom-pah is a kind of music played by brass bands; it is associated with beer halls.

Regional folk music

Sorb. The beginning of a Sorbian nationalist music scene can be traced back to the first sorbian song festival. Held in Lausitz in 1845, and directed by Korla August Kocor, the festival helped revitalize Sorbian folk music. The same period saw the publication of more than five hundred Sorbian songs by Smoler and Haupt in the collection Folksongs of Upper and Lower Sorbs.

Bavaria. Bavarian folk music is likely the most well-known outside of Germany. Yodeling and schuhplattler dancers are among the stereotyped images of German folk life, though these are only found today in the southernmost areas, and to cater to tourists. Bavarian folk music has played a role in the Alpine New Wave, and produced several pioneering world music groups that fuse traditional Bavarian sounds with foreign styles.

It was around the turn of the 20th century, across Europe and especially in Bavaria, many people became concerned about a loss of cultural traditions. This idea was connected to the Heimatschutz movement, which sought to protect regional identities and boundaries. What is considered Bavarian folk music in modern Germany is not the same as what Bavarian folk music was in the early 1900s; like any kind of folk or popular music, styles and traditions have evolved over time, giving birth to new forms of music.

The popularity of the Volkssänger (folksinger) in Bavaria began in the 1880s, and continued in earnest until the 1920s. Shows consisting of duets, ensemble songs, humor and parodies were popular, but the format began changing significantly following World War I. Bally Prell, the "Beauty Queen of Schneizlreuth", was emblematic of this change. She was an attractive tenor who sang lieder, chanson and opera and operetta.

Bavaria has been part of the Alpine New Wave of folk music alongside Switzerland and Austria. Drawing on pioneers like Biermosl Blosn, musicians from Munich and other cities have fused Bavarian folk with foreign genres and instruments, especially BavaRio's Brazilian samba fusion. Drawing on stubenmusik, native string bands with hammered dulcimers, zithers, guitars and harps. Other bands, like Die Interpreten, have fused jazz and saxophone music.The 1990s saw the rise of Neue Volksmusik, or Alpine New Wave. Inspired by traditionalists like Sepp Eibl, a new group of bands brought a modern sound to traditional music. Artists included most famously Hundsbuam, who formed in 1994.


Main article: German klezmer

Germany has become a hotbed for klezmer music since about the 1980s, and has produced many of the most popular bands in the field since then. Controversially, many or most of the German klezmer bands are not, in fact, Jewish. Before World War 2 and the Holocaust, Jews in Germany had not taken much interest in klezmer, at least compared to Jews in places like the United States. During the Cold War, East German Jews like Lin Jaldati and Perry Friedman tried to establish a German Jewish musical scene, but failed due to interference by the Communist Party.

As a result, the East German klezmer scene didn't take off until the arrival of Aufwind in 1984. The West German klezmer scene, on the other hand, got started soon after the student revolutions of the late 1960s. Among some of the intellectual activists, guilt over the Holocaust turned into extreme admiration for anything Jewish. The tour of Kapelye, an American klezmer band, in 1984 also added some energy to the scene, which soon began thriving.





  • (cordofoni)

  • (aerofoni)

  • (ancia libera)

  • (membranofoni)

  • (idiofoni)

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