After years of campaigning by the German Orchestra Union (DOV), Germany’s ‘theatrical and orchestral landscape’ has been recognised by UNESCO as ‘intangible cultural heritage’. The move follows decades of mergers and closures throughout the country – since 1992, 37 of its 168 publicly financed concert, opera, chamber and radio orchestras have been either dissolved or amalgamated with others. A national one-day-strike-and-action-day on September 30, 2013 by more than 100 orchestras (in front line: the Berlin Philharmonic) increased public awareness of the issue and was the starting point for a new national campaign, Orchesterland-D: Einzigartig. Erhaltenswert (Orchestra country Germany: unique and worth preserving).

Part of cultural heritage: Staatskapelle Berlin
Part of cultural heritage: Staatskapelle Berlin

Quote: “The addition of German theatres and orchestras in the nationwide list of intangible cultural heritage is a great success for the cultural diversity in our country. After years of shrinking resources, this is a clear signal to all policy makers that the nation’s orchestral landscape deserves further investment as a cultural treasure.” – Professor Christian Hoeppner, Secretary General of the German Music Council


The proposal to UNESCO was put forward by the German Music Council in cooperation with the German Orchestra Union and German Theatre Association.