Hochschule für Musik und Theater

“Mendelssohn’s idea has stood the test of time for over 150 years. His conservatoire, together with the St. Thomas Boys’ Choir, the opera house and the Gewandhaus, still forms the backbone of our city’s musical life today.”

Kurt Masur on the occasion of the anniversary of the HMT Leipzig in 1993

Since when has the house existed?

Founded in 1843, the institution was first housed at the courtyard building of the Gewandhaus at the time; the building at Grassistr. 8 has been in use since 1887 and the building at Dittrichring 21 was inaugurated in 2002.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which composers worked here? (in alphabetical order)

Johann Nepomuk David, Salomon Jadassohn, Sigfrid Karg-Elert, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Ignaz Moscheles, Reinhard Pfundt, Günter Raphael, Max Reger, Carl Reinecke, Ernst Friedrich Richter, Steffen Schleiermacher, Robert Schumann, Siegfried Thiele, Kurt Thomas, Georg Trexler, Wilhelm Weismann

Famous alumni (in alphabetical order):

Music: Wilhelm Backhaus, Georg Christoph Biller, Yvonne Catterfeld, Edvard Grieg, Ludwig Güttler, Leoš Janáček, Theodor Kirchner (first student in 1843 with the matriculation number 1; the matriculation list has been kept in running order to this day), Sebastian Krumbiegel, Kurt Masur, Günther Ramin, Karl Richter, Klaus Tennstedt, Amadeus Webersinke

Acting: Eberhard Esche, Harry Kupfer, Ulrich Mühe, Tom Pauls, Peter Sodann, Nadja Uhl

During which period?

Those listed above taught or studied at the then Conservatory, today Academy, between the 19th and 21st century.

 

 

Which musical works were played here most frequently / had their world premiere here?

 The world premieres were works by composition students both at the former Conservatory and today’s HMT. For example, Edvard Grieg played newly-composed piano works (Three Fantasy Pieces) for his final examination on April 12, 1862, which took place at the Gewandhaus.
Unfortunately there are no statistics revealing which pieces were performed here most frequently.

Special events:

– 1843 (April 2): Opening of the first German conservatory, founded by Mendelssohn
– 1887 (December 5): Inauguration of the new building at Grassistr. 8
– 1943-45: Bomb raids massively damage the building at Grassistr. 8
– 1946 (October 1): Ceremony reopening the institution as “Mendelssohn Academy” at the theatre, reconstruction of the building through 1952, but the concert hall remained a ruin (and was demolished in 1957)
– 1950: Hosting the 1st International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition (which continues in close cooperation; HMT still hosts the competition to this day)
– 1992: Amalgamation of the Academy of Theatre “Hans Otto” (Germany’s oldest acting academy) with the Music Academy, resulting in the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Academy of Music and Theatre Leipzig
– 2001: Inauguration of the newly-built Main Auditorium at Grassistr. 8
– 2016 (September 13): Founding of a joint centre for musicology of HMT and the Leipzig University
– 2018: HMT is designated a European Cultural Heritage site together with eight institutions of Leipzig’s music history

Anecdotes:

A file on teaching issues (Hochschule für Musik und Theater „Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy“ Leipzig, Library/Archive, A, II.2) reports that Max Reger, who taught at the Conservatory from 1907 to 1916, used to smoke heavily inside his ground-floor room (today’s Room 109, office of the Prorector for Artistic Practice). He often dropped the ashes of his cigars onto the wooden floor, resulting in several burn marks and holes which were only discovered later. The reassuring fact is that even in 1905, fire safety measures were already in place. Thus, the “Leipzig Fire Brigade’s Command” invoiced the directors of the Royal Conservatory for 7 marks and 20 pfennigs: four firemen were to ensure the safety of the opera performance on January 24, 1905.

 

Two quotations about the house, if available, or an additional quote about Leipzig and the house:

In 1840 Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy wrote in a draft letter to Saxony’s King Frederic August II about the necessity of founding a conservatory, which he called a music school. On February 13, 1839, Leipzig’s Court Councillor Heinrich Blümner had died, leaving a legacy of 20,000 thalers. Mendelssohn asked the King:

“May Your Majesty see fit to use the sum which the deceased Court War Councillor Blümner has left for the establishment of an institute dedicated to the arts or sciences, and whose use he has left to the august wisdom of Your Majesty, to found and maintain a thorough music school in Leipzig, where specially employed, dedicated teachers shall instruct the talented young people of our country at very low, generally affordable prices, and foreigners at a higher rate, teaching them instrumental music, composition and theory.”

 

How is the house filled with life today?

The Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Academy of Music and Theatre Leipzig currently trains approximately 1,200 students from 59 countries in 12 different faculties resp. institutes. Presenting approximately 600 public performances per year, the Academy is the largest concert and theatrical presenter in the region.

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