The International Music Festival Heidelberger Frühling is an annual classical music festival held in Heidelberg in March and April since 1997, with over 100 events and 47,000 visitors (2018). In addition to the festival’s productions and concert operations with internationally established performers, ensembles and orchestras, the “Heidelberger Frühling”, organised as a non-profit limited liability company, conceives and organises other projects such as the Heidelberg String Quartet Festival, the Heidelberg Festival Academy for Lied Singing, Chamber Music, Composition and Music Journalism, and the Heidelberg Music Conference, an annual meeting of major European festivals and concert halls. The managing director is Thorsten Schmidt. The Heidelberg Spring belongs to the festival region Rhein-Neckar.
The first “Heidelberger Frühling” took place in 1997. After the first two years with the Philharmonic Orchestra, the music festival became independent. In March 2006, the Heidelberger Frühling gGmbH was founded. In 2010 the Heidelberger Frühling Stiftung was established and in 2011 the Freundeskreis des Heidelberger Frühling celebrated its 10th anniversary. In 2016, the festival celebrated its 20th birthday.
Since 2005, the Heidelberg String Quartet Festival has created an atmosphere of concentrated deceleration, of interaction between artists and visitors, of immersion in the study of the string quartet genre. From morning until late at night, outstanding ensembles create the demanding programme of workshops, lectures and concerts. Initially, the String Quartet Festival took place as part of the Heidelberg Spring Music Festival, but since 2012 it has been a small festival in its own right, always taking place for four days at the end of January. Four to five ensembles are invited each year, with established quartets meeting young newcomers. The workshops are currently held by radio presenter, director and scriptwriter Daniel Finkernagel [de] and violinist Oliver Wille (Kuss Quartet) and deal in depth with questions of design and interpretation. The venue for the String Quartet Festival is the Alte Pädagogische Hochschule Heidelberg [de], designated for this purpose as the Festival Forum, which in addition to a concert hall and rehearsal rooms also offers a festival cafeteria that serves as a meeting place for all artists and guests between and after the events.
Founded in 2011, the Festival Academy is the creative centre of the Heidelberger Frühling. Here young outstanding musicians from all over the world come together to make music, exchange ideas, find and pass on inspiration, reflect and make new contacts. The Festival Academy sees itself as a place of connection, opening and deepening. It deals with music in its socio-political dimension, makes processes of creation visible and encourages discourse about its meaning and perspectives. Open Classes and Open Stages, workshop concerts and discussion rounds – in these and other formats, the audience can get to know the young artists at work and look over the mentors’ shoulders.
The Festival Academy of the Heidelberg Frühling comprises four areas: Lied (artistic director: Thomas Hampson), Chamber Music (artistic director: Igor Levit), Composition (successor to the Heidelberg Studio, artistic director: Matthias Pintscher) and Music Journalism (since 2015, director: Eleonore Büning). Mentors of current and past academy years are Barbara Bonney, Ian Bostridge, Brigitte Fassbaender, Graham Johnson, Thomas Quasthoff, Wolfram Rieger, Veronika Eberle, Ning Feng, Matan Porat, Thorleif Thedéen, Frederic Rzewski, Manuel Brug and Sophie Diesselhorst. In addition, there are numerous expert speakers from humanities disciplines.