Germany editor Jim Glab visited Weimar, Germany, to check out
the town's preparations for Cultural Capital 1999. His report
WEIMAR, Germany -- With a population of 62,000, this central
German city may be the smallest municipality ever designated
Europe's Cultural Capital, but the lineup of events and performers
for the festivities is worthy of the title.
The program, with events strung out from January to December,
features performances by some of the world's top orchestras and
opera and dance companies, as well as an eclectic assortment of art
exhibits, plays, conferences, competitions and workshops.
Much of the
cultural activity will focus on the works of some of the city's
favorite musical sons, like Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Liszt and
Richard Strauss, each of whom spent part of his career in Weimar.
The city also was home for decades to Germany's literary godfather,
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (whose 250th birthday will be celebrated
here in 1999), the poet Friedrich Schiller and the philosopher
Weimar's long cultural tradition -- which started in the Middle
Ages, when local dukes invited artists and writers to live here
under their sponsorship -- continued into the current century with
architect Walter Gropius, who in 1919 transformed the city's
Bauhaus University into a center of modern design, creating a
distinctive style still universally recognized by the name
The Bauhaus movement, which brought a minimalist twist to
handicrafts as well as industrial design, was a leading artistic
movement around the world in the 1920s and '30s. Artists on the
staff of the Bauhaus University included Paul Klee, Wassily
Kandinsky and Oskar Schlemmer. The city's newest museum, opened in
1995, is the Bauhaus Museum, offering a collection of 500 objects
that typify the style popularized by Gropius and his followers.
However, it won't be the city's newest museum for long: In
January 1999, city officials plan to cut the ribbon on the New
Museum Weimar, housing a collection of contemporary art, not only
to mark the start of the Cultural Capital year but also to
commemorate Weimar's 1,100th anniversary as a city. The museum, to
be housed in a 19th century neo-Renaissance building, will cover a
broad range of international art created since the 1960s.
The city's anniversary makes Weimar's selection as Europe's
Cultural Capital all the more significant and the program of events
and performers is intended to keep that designation up to the
standards of the larger cities that have worn that crown in recent
Weimar's Cultural Capital calendar for 1999 includes a series of
classical concerts with visiting orchestras and groups, beginning
on Jan. 15 with a 200th anniversary performance of Joseph Haydn's
oratorio "The Creation," presented by London's Academy of St.
Martin-in-the-Fields. (A detailed listing of events appears in a
related story on this page.)
In addition to being a writer, Goethe was a painter and
draftsman, and the Weimar Classics Foundation plans to put 250 of
his drawings on display at an unusual location -- the former
concentration camp at Buchenwald, just outside the city.
French conceptual artist Daniel Buren is being given the
Rollplatz, Weimar's oldest town square, to use as the canvas for
his newest creation, and visitors will have to walk through the
entire town to see an exhibit called "A Stroll in Time Through
Weimar," which will include 25 stops along the way with video
installations, recordings, posters and "architectural elements" to
take the viewer back through the years. In perhaps the oddest
exhibit of the 1999 festivities, organizers have commissioned the
construction of an exact, full-size replica of Goethe's 18th
century Garden House, to be built next to the extant Garden
An organization called Ticketservice Weimar 1999 is working with
the city's tourist office to market packages combining hotel
accommodations with event tickets, offering net rates to travel
agents. For more information, contact Ticketservice Weimar 1999.
Phone: (011) 49-036 4324-0024; fax, (011) 49-0 6 4324-0025; e-mail,