Music, architecture, books and film: A 2019 culture preview

What's on in 2019: Culture edition


Celebrations in Europe's capitals of culture — Plovdiv in Bulgaria and the Italian town of Matera — kick off the new year. Matera's city center with its ancient limestone grottoes has long been a World Heritage site. With an eye as to how culture can lead Europe into a better future, the southern Italian city chose "Open Future" as its 2019 motto.

What's on in 2019: Culture edition


Theaters across Germany will commemorate the 150th birthday of poet/playwright and Berlin bohemian Else Lasker-Schüler on February 11. The Berlin International Film Festival also starts in February, the last Berlinale with Dieter Kosslick at the helm — Carlo Chatrian, the longtime artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival, will take over as the festival's new artistic director in 2020.

What's on in 2019: Culture edition


It's all about books in the eastern German city of Leipzig when its annual book fair opens on March 21 with the Czech Republic as guest of honor. In the western German city of Oberhausen, the Short Film Festival — said to be the world's oldest film festival — celebrates its 65th run. Back in 1962, young German directors at the festival such as Alexander Kluge stated that "Papa's cinema is dead."

What's on in 2019: Culture edition


On April 6, a new Bauhaus Museum opens in the German city of Weimar, where the world-famous school of design and architecture was founded one hundred years before. To coincide with centenary celebrations across Germany, the new museum presents early works from the Bauhaus workshop, and focuses on how Bauhaus artists and architects envisioned people living together.

What's on in 2019: Culture edition


Art lovers around the world admire the works of Leonardo Da Vinci even 500 years after his death on May 2, 1519. Exhibitions in France and Italy commemorate the genius Italian artist, and the Renaissance that followed. That same month, Israel is scheduled to host the Eurovision Song Contest — despite calls to boycott the event. "Dare to Dream" is the song competition's 2019 motto.

What's on in 2019: Culture edition


The music festival season really takes off in June. Music lovers will flock to Rock am Ring at the Nürburgring race track and "Rock im Park" in Nuremburg, both among Germany's largest music festivals. Other events in Germany include the Hurricane Festival and the Southside Festival, while the Roskilde Festival takes place in Denmark and the famed Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

What's on in 2019: Culture edition


Classical music lovers will have their fill of festivals if they travel to the Austrian town of Salzburg for the annual festival starting on July 20 with Mozart, Strauss, Handel on the bill; or to the annual Bayreuth Festival that kicks off July 25 — Richard Wagner's "Tannhäuser" features, while the composer's great-granddaughter Katharina Wagner is directing "Tristan and Isolde" one last time.

What's on in 2019: Culture edition


The legendary Woodstock Festival took place 50 years ago and rumor has it there just might be a reincarnation this year, with a festival focusing on sustainability, activism and social justice designed to "save the world." In Spain, numerous exhibitions celebrating the 500th anniversary of explorer Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe are in store.

What's on in 2019: Culture edition


With its 49,000 exhibits, the Bauhaus Collection has long been housed in the original 1920s Bauhaus building in Dessau. That collection is now set to move to a spacious new museum in the same city, with an opening on September 8. In Berlin, the Humboldt Forum is scheduled to open right in time for the 250th birthday of world-famous explorer Alexander von Humboldt on September 14.

What's on in 2019: Culture edition


The recipients of the Nobel prizes will be announced in the first half of October and perhaps in 2019, a literature prize will once again be included. That award was canceled in 2018 in the wake of a sexual assault scandal involving the husband of one of the academy members. Rest assured that in Germany, the German Book Prize and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade will be awarded.

What's on in 2019: Culture edition


Throughout the year, numerous exhibitions are planned in the Spanish capital of Madrid to celebrate 200 years of its illustrious Prado museum, which first opened on November 19, 1819. Film lovers can look forward to the 25th James Bond movie, a sequel to Casino Royale due to be released that month. It may be Daniel Craig's last stint as agent 007.

What's on in 2019: Culture edition


Another event celebrated throughout the year is the 200th birthday of revered German novelist and poet Theodor Fontane, best known for "Effi Briest." The Fontane Festival honoring the German writer who was born on December 30, 1919 begins in May. The European Film Prize is awarded in December, the same month the Society for the German language will announce the Word of the Year.

Berlinale, Biennale, Bauhaus: If you like culture and you like to travel, 2019 could be your year. A look at Europe's cultural highlights across the next 12 months.

After visiting Madrid's Prado Museum in 1865, French painter Edouard Manet wrote to a friend: "How I missed you here so, and how large your joy would have been at seeing Velaquez, for which this trip alone was worth."

A trip to the Prado is still worthwhile even today — perhaps even more so in 2019, when the museum celebrates 200 years on November 19, 2019. Exhibitions planned for the year in the famous national museum include works by Diego Velazquez, Francisco de Zurbaran and Francisco de Goya.

Madrid is not the only destination for culture lovers looking for unique events in 2019 — head to Britain, France and Germany, where museums mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's death in a host of exhibitions.  

German anniversary celebrations

In Germany, 2019 will be a year full of commemorations and birthdays. The biggest of the celebrations honors the centennial of the revolutionary Bauhaus school of architecture and design.

Literature | 20.11.2018

Beginning with an opening festival on January 16, there will be over 600 exhibitions around the country tracing Bauhaus's influence and showcasing its celebrated artists including Oskar Schlemmer, Wassily Kandinsky, Lyonel Feininger, Paul Klee and László Moholy-Nagy.

Bauhaus turns 100 in 2019

The focus in Berlin is on Alexander von Humboldt, born on September 14, 1769 in the capital city. Exhibitions and lectures celebrate the 250th anniversary of the adventurer, researcher and man about town. The new Humboldt Forum will open its doors to visitors on his birthday. From May 1 to June 30, the Botanical Gardens will host an exhibition on 12 unusual histories of plants in his honor.

Germany is likewise celebrating the 200th birthday of Theodor Fontane, the author of Effi Briest and Der Stechlin. Under the slogan Fontane.200, the novelist will be honored beginning in March in his hometown of Neuruppin, 80 kilometers northwest of Berlin and with events around Brandenburg.

Jewish poet Else Lasker-Schüler, born in Wuppertal and coming of age in Berlin of the Weimar era, is also honored in 2019, with the play "Ichundich" a central part of an eight-day theater festival beginning July 6 in her hometown.

Now live
01:56 mins.
100 Must-Reads | 05.10.2018

DW book expert David Levitz on 'My Heart' by Else Lasker-S...

International events:

Golden Globes to Super Bowl

On January 6 in Los Angeles, the Golden Globes will be awarded for the 76th time, followed on February 25 by the Oscars ceremony in Hollywood. In between, on February 3, the 2019 Super Bowl is bound to have people in the US enthralled, along with the question of who will perform during the halftime show as celebrities have been bowing out in support of NFL players' "kneeling" protests against racism and police shootings of unarmed black men, women and children. 

Back to Germany and film, Dieter Kosslick opens the Berlin International Film Festival one last time in 2019, which kicks off February 7 before the Berlinale Golden Bear is awarded 10 days later.

Hot on the Berlinale's heels, the Oscars in February have a new "popular film" category. Meanwhile, the nominees for the German Film Prize as well as the winners of the prestigious German television Grimme Award are announced on March 20.

The world's foremost film festival, the Cannes Film Festival, runs from May 14 to 25 while the Venice Film Festival is on from August 28 through September 7.

Read moreJuliette Binoche named president of Berlin Film Festival jury

From Venice to Tel Aviv

"May You Live in Interesting Times" is the motto of the 58th Art Biennale in Venice (May 11-November 24), a reference to an alleged Chinese curse that, according to the organizers, interprets times of insecurity, crisis and uproar as "interesting times."

May is also the time when the world tunes in to the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place in Tel Aviv on May 18.

The year in books

Springtime in New York: That's when the Pulitzer Prize winners will be announced.

The winners of the Georg Büchner Prize and the Peace Prize of the German Book trade are usually announced in June or July — the award ceremony for the former is November 2 and the latter is held October 20.

Announcement of the various Nobel prizes is expected in October, perhaps again including a prize suspended in 2018, the Literature Prize. The Literature Nobel Prize winner is usually announced during the Frankfurt Book Fair (October 16- 20). In 2019, Norway is the guest of honor.

Tel Aviv, also famous for its Bauhaus architecture, will host the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest

Art breaks and music festivals

While the Prado celebrations are big news throughout the year, the Bauhaus crowd will be thrilled by the new museum dedicated to design opening in Dessau on September 8.

There's no stopping the art world from its annual gatherings, including Art Basel, held in Switzerland from June 13-16.

A month later, classical music lovers head to the Salzburg Festival to enjoy the play Jedermann and much more, including the Mozart opera Idomeneo. Concertgoers can expect to see and hear a new production of Tannhäuser at the Richard Wagner Festival in Bayreuth (July 25-August 28), while the Locarno Film Festival is on in Switzerland in August (7-17).

Click through the picture gallery above for a more comprehensive list of what's on in 2019.

A photo history of the Berlinale

Selfies, stars and fans on the red carpet

Berlin's film festival has upped the glitz and glamor in recent years, as attested by the timeline of fascinating images on show at a new exhibition, "Between the Films — A Photo History of the Berlinale." Here in 2010, Leonardo DiCaprio thrilled fans on the red carpet by stopping to take a few snapshots. In today's smartphone era, the camera he's holding already feels old school.

A photo history of the Berlinale

Berlin invites the world

In 1955, the Berlinale was held for the fifth time. Great sums were investing in publicity and marketing. Ten years after the end of World War II, the German Federal Republic wanted to show it was culturally anchored in the West. Posters promoting the festival were also widely present in communist East Berlin. World stars such as Peter Ustinov (pictured) contributed to the hype of the event.

A photo history of the Berlinale

Smiling despite the Cold War

In 1961, the Berlinale was still held at the end of June. While the instability of world politics was most directly felt in Berlin, Willy Brandt, then the city's mayor and later West German chancellor, was still beaming as he shook hands with Hollywood icon Jayne Mansfield (accompanied by her husband, Mickey Hargitay). Five months later, construction of the Berlin Wall would start.

A photo history of the Berlinale

Freezing in the summer?

The Berlinale was also held in 1962, despite the recently constructed Berlin Wall newly dividing the city. Photographer Heinz Köster took this shot of Hollywood star James Stewart in front of the Telefunken-Haus on Ernst-Reuter Square, a skyscraper completed in 1960. Berlin can still be chilly in the summer — at least that's the impression given by the way the actor is shivering.

A photo history of the Berlinale

Stars in a divided city

The Cold War was part of the picture at the Berlinale. Stars coming to the city, such as Italian diva Claudia Cardinale, would often pose in front of the Berlin Wall. A bizarre juxtaposition emerges from these shots, with the grinning glamour of Hollywood set against the backdrop of a divide that caused suffering for many people, not only in Berlin, but on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

A photo history of the Berlinale

A fresh wind

In the wake of the revolutionary movements of 1968, the Berlin film festival would also be transformed by a leftward shift that celebrated daring, auteur filmmaking. Ten years later, film critic Wolf Donner (pictured center), who took on the direction of the Berlinale in 1976, moved the film festival from June to February, giving it an edge over Cannes, which is held in May.

A photo history of the Berlinale

Preempting a new era

In 1988, the atmosphere of political change could again be felt in Berlin as Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika policies took hold, with Aleksandr Askoldov’s "The Commissar" screening after a long ban in the Soviet Union. Also that year, filmmaker Agnes Varda premiered two films starring Jane Birkin (pictured), the drama "Kung Fu Master" and the docudrama "Jane B. par Agnès V."

A photo history of the Berlinale

Back in reunified Berlin

After filming "One Two Three" in West Berlin in 1961 while the Wall was being built, director Billy Wilder returned to the German capital and its film festival over three decades later. He is shown here with Horst Buchholz, the lead actor of his Cold War film, the two standing in the slush in front of the Brandenburg Gate in February, 1993.

A photo history of the Berlinale

A new millennium on the red carpet

Dieter Kosslick became the festival director in 2001, giving a new impetus to the venerated celebration of film. A promoter of German cinema, he also boosted the level of glamour on the red carpet and brought more color to the festival. He personally accompanies guest stars to their film premieres, and often wears his trademark black hat — as he is pictured here alongside Judi Dench in 2007.

A photo history of the Berlinale

The festival's photographers

The "Between the Films – A Photo History of the Berlinale" exhibition — on show at the German Cinematheque in Berlin from September 28, 2018 through May 5, 2019 — is also a tribute to the work of the festival's press photographers. Erika Rabau, shown here taking a well-earned nap at the 1995 festival, was the Berlinale's official photographer from 1972 until shorty before her death in 2016.