The Facilitator

Dr Dieter Rexroth is the artistic director of the international Young Euro Classic youth orchestra festival, which he co-founded 20 years ago. Get to know the renowned musicologist who calls our attention to the hidden warning in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in our video interview.

Beethoven – a modern classic

Dr Dieter Rexroth on the message of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and why today it is more relevant than ever (KfW Group/Schuch/Sperl).

It's not that easy to find a precise job title for what Dieter Rexroth does. If you look around the salon-like living room of his old Berlin apartment not far from the boulevard of Kurfürstendamm, you get the impression that it has a lot to do with books. They can be found – next to hundreds of CDs – on shelves so high that you need a ladder to reach the ones at the top. Books are also piled up on the floor, on tables and on the large grand piano in the middle of the room. Pictures that have not been hung up lean against the walls and busts of composers dot the room. It's a bit of creative chaos.

Rexroth, 78 years old and a “restless retiree”, is first and foremost a musicologist. He has studied Arnold Schönberg, Paul Hindemith and Ludwig van Beethoven. But he was also the director of the Kasseler Musiktage music festival and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, he was the artistic director of the Mendelssohn Music Competition in Berlin and is still the artistic director of the Young Euro Classic youth orchestra festival, which he co-founded 20 years ago. He is in charge of deciding which orchestras from all over the world perform at the Konzerthaus on Gendarmenmarkt square during the three weeks in summer and what pieces they will play.

Dr Dieter Rexroth

The 78-year-old musicologist co-founded the "Young Euro Classic" festival 20 years ago and remains the artistic director to this day.

Rexroth has earned himself a reputation as a dramaturge who, together with the conductors, conjures up unexpected concert programmes. Beginning in 1980, he worked as a dramaturge in Frankfurt am Main for 14 years, where he arranged the season's programmes for the Alte Oper in the newly opened concert hall. A job behind the scenes, but with a huge impact: what is played, which composers are the focus during a season and how their works are combined with those of other composers on a concert evening - all this shapes the identity and image of an event organiser.

If Dieter Rexroth is asked how he himself would describe his work, he says after a moment of reflection: “I am a facilitator”. Someone who wants to make classical music accessible, not least of all for young listeners. As a facilitator, Rexroth has very good intuition. In the year 2000 he brought the conductor Kent Nagano to Berlin as the new chief conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester (DSO), a conductor who was virtually unknown in Germany at the time. In collaboration with Nagano, he developed concert programs that enjoy a legendary status to this day. With music from the Middle Ages to the present, they shook up the rather narrow, classical repertoire of Berlin's competing orchestras.

Read more under the image gallery.

The DSO was soon regarded as the orchestra with the most innovative concerts in the city, and Nagano became one of the leading conductors, and was subsequently engaged by Germany's largest opera house, the Munich National Theatre. In the meantime, Kent Nagano has become the general music director in Hamburg and Dieter Rexroth is still his dramaturgical advisor. He crafts the programmes for the concerts of the Hamburg Opera Orchestra – when he is not planning the next Young Euro Classic. Retirement as yet unplanned.

Published on KfW Stories: 16 July 2019.