Kissinger Sommer

The Kissinger Sommer is a classical music festival held every year in the summer in the city of Bad Kissingen in Bavaria, Southern Germany.


The festival was founded in 1986. At the beginning the focus of the festival was on the improvement of the cultural relations between eastern and western Europe. Every year an east-european country was partner of the festival, beginning with Hungary in 1986. Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union followed. So the festival became a place where one could see artists from east and west, especially of the partner-countries and of East-Germany. Among the artists of the first years were Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Boris Pergamenschikow and Svjatoslav Richter. After the fall of the iron curtain the festival turned to a world-wide view with partner-countries in whole Europe, North America and China. Every summer around 50 concerts are attracting about 30 000 visitors. The occurring interpreters are a mixture of well-known international stars like Cecilia Bartoli, Arcadi Volodos, Fazil Say or Grigory Sokolov, and newcomers, who often later have made a great career too, like Lang Lang, Diana Damrau or David Garrett.

Director of the "Kissinger Sommer" from 1986 until 2016 was Kari Kahl-Wolfsjäger. Her successor, beginning in 2017, is Tilman Schlömp, formerly artistic director at the festival Beethovenfest in Bonn. He changed the concept of the festival. Instead of partner countries, there are now main topics, starting in 2017 with the motto "1830 - Romantic Revolution" and followed in 2018 by "1918 - emergence of the modern age".

Contemporary Music

From the beginning the festival is also a place for contemporary composers like Alfred Schnittke, Sofia Gubaidulina, Edison Denisov, Aribert Reimann or Wolfgang Rihm. There have been world premieres of composers like Jean Françaix (Dixtuor, in 1987), Krzysztof Penderecki (Sinfonietta No. 2 for clarinet and string orchestra, in 1994) and Fazil Say (Sonata for clarinet and piano, op. 42, in 2012). Since 2006 composers present themselves and premieres of their music in the workshop Bad Kissinger Liederwerkstatt. Up to 2018, around 80 world premieres have already been produced as part of the Liederwerkstatt. However, there are also world premieres outside the Liederwerkstatt, such as the Concerto No. 1 for violin and orchestra by Gediminas Gelgotas in 2018 and in 2019 a new version of the opera "Orfeo ed Euridice" by Damian Scholl.

Luitpold Prize

Every year since 1999 the Luitpoldpreis (Luitpold Prize) is awarded to a young interpreter of the festival. The prize is named after Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria, who let build the great Bad Kissingen concert hall Regentenbau, where many of the concerts of the festival take place. The winners are:
  • 1999 – Nikolaj Znaider, violin
  • 2000 – Alisa Weilerstein, cello
  • 2001 – Jochen Kupfer, baritone
  • 2002 – , soprano
  • 2003 – Baiba Skride, violin
  • 2004 – Jan Kobow, tenor
  • 2005 – Mojca Erdmann, soprano
  • 2006 – Peter Ovtcharov, piano
  • 2007 – Tine Thing Helseth, trumpet
  • 2008 – David Lomeli, tenor
  • 2009 – Igor Levit, piano
  • 2010 – Kejia Xiong, tenor
  • 2011 – Anna Lucia Richter, soprano
  • 2012 – Dmitry Korchak, tenor
  • 2013 – Julia Novikova, soprano
  • 2013 – Konstantin Shamray, piano
  • 2014 – Kian Soltani, cello
  • 2015 – , tenor
  • 2016 – Andrei Ioniță, cello
  • 2017 – Julian Trevelyan, piano
  • 2018 – , soprano
  • 2019 – , tenor

    Kissinger Klavierolymp

    The festival is connected to the Kissinger Klavierolymp (Kissinger Piano Olympics), a competition of young pianists in autumn in Bad Kissingen. The prize for the winners is a performance at the Kissinger Sommer. Among them are Martin Helmchen, Nikolai Tokarev, Kirill Gerstein, Igor Levit, Alice Sara Ott and Kit Armstrong. Among the last winners are Elisabeth Brauß (2016), Emre Yavuz (2017) and Juan Pérez Floristán (2018).