Welcome address at the opening concert of the European Cultural Days at the Alte Oper

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1 Introductory remarks

Ladies and gentlemen

For many years, I've had the privilege of being here in the audience at the Alte Oper for the opening concert of the European Cultural Days. It was always a pleasure to sit back, relax and enjoy the programme selected by my European Central bank colleagues for the Cultural Days in Frankfurt am Main. Well, this time is different. Now, following on from Malta last year, it's our turn.

Giving you a glimpse of Germany’s culture in our own country is certainly a challenge, but the Deutsche Bundesbank and the ECB took on this challenge and have together developed this year's programme, the motto of which is "Multifaceted Germany".

And, looking around, I am delighted to see that our first programme item, today's opening concert, has attracted so much interest. This is a good opportunity to thank all the organisers of this concert and the many other exciting events making up the European Cultural Days.

As patron of this series of events, the 14th of its kind, please allow me to say a few words, before I come to those who will be taking centre stage this evening: the musicians of the hr Sinfonieorchester and the ATOS Trio.

The Deutsche Bundesbank, which has its Central Office in Frankfurt am Main since 1957, has particularly close ties to this city and the region. We are therefore delighted to present to you some of Germany's many different cultural aspects this autumn in the Rhine-Main area. "Multifaceted", the motto of this year's Cultural Days, really does conjure up an appropriate picture in many ways:

Over the next six weeks, our programme will show our country's diversity: in the areas of literature, art, theatre, opera, music and dance.

However, it's not only the expressions of culture in our programme which are multifaceted, but also the themes. Our programme features artists who are addressing the important issues of our time. For the production of Idomeneo, which will be performed on 3 and 4 November at the Kurtheater Bad Homburg, renowned performers from all over Europe will appear on the stage together with refugees and put Mozart's opera in a current context carrying the opera’s themes of war, flight across the Mediterranean, the loss of homeland and loved ones into the present day.

When selecting the music programme, alongside classical music, we've also made room for contemporary electronic music and sound art. For any classical music lovers in the audience, I'd like to draw your attention to the Historical Concert to be performed by the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig on the 20th of November here in the Alte Oper and to the Charity Concert with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen on the 18th of November in the Paulskirche. I'd also like to suggest that music lovers visit Florian Hecker's sound installations in the Museum für Moderne Kunst. And if you're not put off by New Music and electronic club music, then I can recommend the Rotor #5 event at the Städel on the 28th of October. This event also shows how music and contemporary art are intertwined.

"Multifaceted" is also an apt description for the musicians, singers, dancers and actors who are participating in our programme and who have their roots in many different countries. Their artistic interaction and passionate commitment are a wonderful reflection of the idea behind the European Cultural Days.

In times when the voices of the Eurosceptics are louder than those of the pro-Europeans, and the achievements of a united Europe for it’s citizens are taken for granted, it is all the more important to show what Europe stands for: For an open, vibrant, mutually beneficial cultural landscape. Culture allow us to pause and think about the central idea behind the European Union that it reflects so well: we are united in diversity”.

And last, but not least, the "multifaceted" motto also applies to this city. Frankfurt is testimony to the productive co-existence of many different cultures. The European Cultural Days are intended to offer all citizens – long-time residents and transplants from other parts of Germany or abroad alike – the opportunity to enjoy culture together and discover what unites them.

Let's make a start today. In a saying attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – who, as all of you know, was himself a native of Frankfurt: "Music begins where words end".

2 Programme

And this brings me to the programme for this evening: Under the baton of Marek Janowski, who conducted the Ring Cycle at this year's Bayreuth Festival, the hr Sinfonieorchester will be performing works by Ludwig van Beethoven and Robert Schumann. Above all, Maestro Janowski, I would like to thank you very much for making this concert possible.

The first part of the evening will be dedicated to Ludwig van Beethoven's Egmont Overture and his Triple Concerto for piano, violin and cello. Beethoven's score to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's drama Egmont was commissioned by the Vienna Burgtheater and premiered during a staging of the play in Vienna on June 1810.

This will be followed by Beethoven's Triple Concerto, which - with its three solo instruments - is an almost unique work in music history. The hr Sinfonieorchester will perform with the ATOS Trio, the members of which are violinist Annette von Hehn, cellist Stefan Heinemeyer and pianist Thomas Hoppe.

This chamber music trio have won a large number of international prizes. They left their "home port", as they like to call their base in the Neukölln district of Berlin, in order to offer us this special performance together with the renowned hr Sinfonieorchester. The musical composition demands feats of virtuosity from the orchestra and soloists.

In the second half of the evening, we will have the chance to hear a pioneering composition from the German Romantic era – Robert Schumann's Third Symphony, also known as the "Rhenish". You can look forward to a wealth of sound effects and the haunting melodies of Schumann, the romantic.

I will leave it at that and let the music do the talking. I hope you enjoy the performances by the musicians of the hr Sinfonieorchester and the ATOS Trio.