The Music Festival Potsdam Sanssouci is a festival with music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Classic and Romantic in historically informed performances. In recent years the program has been expanded to include jazz, world music and new music as well. The festival is held annually for three weeks in June featuring about 80 performance set in the UNESCO world heritage of the Prussian Palaces and Gardens in Potsdam and Berlin as well as in Potsdam’s historical centre and its surroundings. The festival is supported by the capital City of Potsdam and the State of Brandenburg and is staged in cooperation with the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg.
Today’s Music Festival Potsdam Sanssouci is successor to the Park Festival Sanssouci, which had been staged from 1954 and it was newly founded after the unification of the two German states in 1991. The festival’s operating company is the Music Festival Sanssouci and Nikolaisaal Potsdam gGmbH, an enterprise of the Capital City of Potsdam.
There are up to three opera productions, Palace Concerts, Open-Air concerts, a Bicycle Concert, guided tours and lectures as well as innovative music-cultural concepts for audio conveyance and child projects to be performed – most of these are either in-house productions or especially thematically arranged for the Festival. Every year sees at least one new performance format.
Artistic and Managing Director Dr. Andrea Palent was responsible for the new concept and its realization from 1991 – 2018. She shaped the festival’s direction with its artistically and programmatically always renewed interplay of space and sound and firmly established the Music Festival’s reputation and charisma far beyond the borders of Brandenburg as one of Germany’s most renowned »Early-Music Festivals«.
Since 2018 recorder player and conductor Prof. Dorothee Oberlinger has been the Artistic Director of the Music Festival Potsdam Sanssouci. The managing directorship was taken over by Heike Bohmann in the same year.
Under Dorothee Oberlinger’s artistic directorship the overall ensemble of Prussian arts will continue to be presented as a summer gathering for international artists with opera, music and changing themes imaginatively containing the historic connections to the City of Potsdam and the State of Brandenburg.
Special emphasis will be put on the creative interplay of the arts by means of interdisciplinary concepts, which seek to find and highlight connections between the arts. This exchange – very much honouring the universal spirit of Sanssouci – takes place between the various art forms: painting, architecture, literature dance and theatre but also include fashion, garden art and even sports and the world of circus are questioned in terms of their relationship with music thus allowing for new creative alliances.
Yet the main focus remains on so-called early music and historically informed performances at the highest artistic level to provide a prolific basis for the arts, which in turn contain the thought and spirit of the performance practice and set impulses for accessing and shining a light on music from all eras.
This also includes bringing back to the stage hidden gems of the Potsdam repertoire, which comprises more than 450 years of musical history as a major aim. Nevertheless, there will not be a lack of excursions into and bridges towards other genres such as jazz, pop, electronic, folk music, ethnic music and current music.
In the coming years the festival is enriched by a Flute Day, an obvious choice given the international prominence of flute-playing Frederick II and his flute teacher Johann Joachim Quantz, court composer and chamber musicus and the latter’s “Attempt of an Instruction for Playing the Transverse Flute”. Every year its guests will be renowned international flautists from all over the world playing various flute instruments such as transverse, recorder, csakan, ney, syrinx or shakuhachi.
With the newly established lunch concert series the Festival provides support to young, up-and-coming early music ensembles.