They are places of longing and images of hope, endangered paradise, and protected space: ever since people began sailing the seas, islands have been on their minds inspiring their imagination. Setting out from ancient Greek myths, which declared them places of divine birth or exile and romanticized about them as spaces of enraptured beauty, islands have been the origin of art and culture. So, poets of all eras have dreamed up a garden of love on the Greek island of Kythera. Frederic II’s very own favourite painter Antoine Watteau depicts this garden in his famous »Embarkment to Kythera« making the journey to a mythical island of love programmatic for the »world-enraptured-ness« that was realized in Sanssouci by means of art.

Journeys of discovery and trade in the Mediterranean Sea, later via the Atlantic and the South Seas create exciting encounters with foreign peoples and customs. They provide Europe with – also in the name of Prussia – fantasies of exoticism, tremendous power and bloody riches whilst also awakening the never redeemable longing for an untouched South Sea paradise.

Protected settlement areas and cultural spheres have been developing on islands since prehistoric times and have indeed formed the core of modern cities. Potsdam itself serves as a perfect example with its surrounding waterways comprised of the River Havel, the lakes and many canals. Landscape artist Joseph von Lenné utilized this setting for the creation of a unique ensemble of idealized spaces, which time and again play with the historic-cultural and visual qualities of being island-like.

This is why islands are the theme and the topic for the Music Festival Potsdam Sanssouci 2022. Musical journeys of discovery explore both symbolic, literary, and imaginary as well as many actual island cultures. The Canaries and the Balearics, Ireland, Sicily or Iceland, Crete, or Cuba – all of them have given birth to musical forms and styles, which have then travelled around the world. The Music Festival is aided and guided by them thus forging a wide bridge from literary imagination to reality, from exotic faraway places to the island home that is Potsdam.

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