Monday, 14 November 2016

The Cultural Life of Bayreuth (Germany)

The Margraviate of Brandenburg-Bayreuth was an immediate territory of the Holy Roman Empire, which was ruled by a Franconian branch of the Hohenzollern dynasty. Bayreuth became the residence of the Margrave in 1603 and in the 18th century Bayreuth had its heyday under the rule of Margrave Frederick and his wife Wilhelmine of Prussia. In 1791 the Margraviate was ceded to Prussia, who lost it again in 1807. Since 1810 is Bayreuth a part of Bavaria. 

Wilhelmine of Prussia was born in 1709. She was the oldest daughter of Frederick William I of Prussia and older sister of Frederick the Great. In 1731 she married Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth. She was a gifted composer and ordered the construction of various Baroque buildings in Bayreuth, which now shape the city's appearance. She died in 1758. 

The Eremitage is a historic park built between 1715 and 1722. Actually built by Margrave George William, his son Frederick gave the Eremitage to his wife Wilhelmine of Prussia after his father died. She ordered the construction of many additions.

One of the additions built at the behest of Wilhelmine is the Temple of the Sun. It was built between 1749 and 1753 and is crowned by a golden quadriga driven by the sun-god Apollo.

The Margravial Opera House in Bayreuth was built between 1745 and 1748 by Joseph Saint-Pierre in the Baroque style. The interior was designed by Giuseppe Galli Bibiena and his son Carlo. It is one of Europe's few surviving theatres of the period and is completely preserved in its original condition, except for the curtain which was taken by Napoleon's troops in 1812. The Margravial Opera House is since 2012 on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Bayreuth saw another heyday when the the Margraviate was long gone, as Richard Wagner chose the city to become the setting for his now World-famous theatre and music festival in the 1870s.

Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was one of the most famous German composers and made the opera into a Gesamtkunstwerk by writing text, music and stage directions. The first Bayreuth Festival was held in 1876. Since then it is held annually in the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which was built between 1872 and 1875 just to house the festival. It was designed by Richard Wagner himself and was built with money from King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

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