Ulrike Northoff is the artistic director of the concert series Musik im Schloss (Castle Concerts) - www.musik-im-schloss.de - within which internationally renowned artists and ensembles perform in the historic Castle-Church in Bad Homburg.
It was thanks to Heinrich von Kleist's play "The Prince of Homburg" that the former residence of the Landgraves of Hesse-Homburg, a stone's throw away from the gates of Frankfurt, became world-famous. The palace with its wonderful gardens is probably one of the most beautiful baroque estates in Germany. It is therefore no wonder that the Prussian Kings and German Kaisers were very fond of spending the years between about 1866 and 1916 here. And also no doubt because of the relaxation and recreation provided by the town of Bad Homburg von der Höhe, a spa famous for its medicinal springs. Even the Prince of Wales used to come here in search of amusement, relaxation and "to take the waters" along with the English and Russian aristocracy.
At the courts of Europe, art was extremely multi-faceted. The educated aristocracy was aware of the necessity to support and cultivate the fine arts, and in doing so, created the basis for Europe's ambience. And so it was thanks to arts patron Isaak von Sinclair that the poet genius Friedrich Hölderlin became the court librarian at Homburg Palace during the artistically formative years of his short life. It was here that Hölderlin wrote "Patmos", probably his best-known poem. In those days, much that was of little ostensible or commercial value in the fine arts or in literature and music aroused considerable attention and admiration, thus laying the foundations of our cultural life and identity today.
The highly varied program spans from organ recitals to intimate solo concerts and appearances of prize-winning chamber music ensembles through to choral music (oratorios, a-capella concerts, Gospels). Regularly the Hesse Broadcast Station broadcasts selected concerts, for example a solo concert with Bach Sonatas and Partitas performed by Christian Tetzlaff, a violinist with a worldwide reputation on all important concert podien or in 2004 a concert of the pianist Homero Francesch. In 2005 Hesse Broadcast Station did also a live-broadcast of a concert of the famous "Tetzlaf-Quartet". Additional outstanding high points, which were highly praised by the press, were the guest concert by the organ improvisator, Pierre Pincemaille (Paris), three unusual quartet ensembles (4 saxophones, 4 flutes, 4 celli) as well as a performance of Handel's "Messiah", Bach's "Christmas Oratorio" and several appearances of the Maulbronner Kammerchor (winner of the German Choral Competition), the Frankfurter Kantorei (foundation through Rilling), Posener Knabenchor or the Leipziger Vocalensemble (Thomaskirche Leipzig) etc. The electrifying Gospel concert given by the choir, "Gospel Generation" with a band and soloists, Helmut Jost and the black singer David Thomas has been a highlight as well. In addition to this, there are outstanding ensembles such as the Abegg Trio and the Gewandhaus Quartette, which is the oldest chamber music combo in the world, or, in the realm of old music, the Leipzig Baroque Orchestra. And if we leave the world of classical music, there are also fascinating tango evenings that have a strong air of chamber music about them. International artists and ensembles including Gabriel Rivano and Grammy Award winner Raúl Jaurena enthral their audiences by using modern compositions to re-interpret the tango.
Organists, who are internationally in demand, regularly give guest performances on the historic, exactly reconstructed 3-manual Buergy organ of 1787 (with Echo division). Starting in 2006 there will be a Internationaler Orgelsommer im Schloss, where in July and August interesting organists perform in Bad Homburg.
Turning to the piano, the Bad Homburg Bechstein Concerts that are held in the rooms of the castle during masterclasses offer outstanding pianists and up-and-coming talents a top location for performances. Artists include star names such as Lilya Zilberstein or Homero Francesch and up-and-coming talents like Rosa Hong from Canada or the Bechstein Award winner, Amir Tebenikhin.