Prof. Dr. Dieter Rexroth 06.03.1941–09.04.2024

He was a godsend for Young Euro Classic!

As early as 1998, when the charitable association “German Circle of Friends of European Youth Orchestras” was founded, which was to become the body responsible for the festival, its members managed to recruit Dieter Rexroth for the project. Unlike many other culture professionals in Berlin at the time, this highly respected music dramaturge and renowned orchestra expert was immediately enthusiastic about offering young orchestras from Europe a major stage here: at the Konzerthaus on Gendarmenmarkt and at the Philharmonie. He found it particularly convincing that the initiative for this project had come from young musicians themselves.

What could be a better beginning for this new millennium than presenting musical youth in the reunified capital of Germany, in the centre of Europe? Dieter Rexroth had grasped the idea’s potential with his finely-honed instinct. He knew the verve with which young artists wished to conquer symphonic music, to shape and renew it. From his perspective, the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie – founded in 1974 by former members of the National Youth Orchestra of Germany – was a milestone for the renewal of the orchestral landscape. Ensemble Modern, created by former members of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie in 1980, was another radical attempt at renewal in Dieter Rexroth’s view. He acted as an advisor to the National Youth Orchestra as well.

He was always open to all attempts to reshape and renew the musical landscape. This also included the European initiative of young music managers from which Young Euro Classic grew. He took up the basic dramaturgical idea for the Young Euro Classic festival from the then President of the European Federation of National Youth Orchestras and it has endured to this day: a concert was to feature a great work of the 19th/20th century, a great national composition from the orchestra’s country of origin, and a newly composed piece.

Thanks to his open, flexible spirit, his competence and his total concentration on the person he was dealing with, Dieter Rexroth was able to convey this basic notion respectfully to the orchestra managers. His pronounced empathy and his almost infinite knowledge of musicology, history and philosophy enabled him to convince his partners of his ideas. He never forced anything. He trusted the power inherent in music and the overall composition of a concert, because it was his deepest conviction that “music speaks to the listener”. He smiled at doubters and trusted they would experience what he meant, if only they let the music work its magic. And many, many experienced it, drawing pleasure and irritation from the process, often simultaneously. He often enriched concerts by profound introductory talks replete with intelligent references and connections, mostly speaking without a manuscript. This was an art he had mastered like few others. A great number of young musicians and composers loved listening to him unlock new avenues of musical interpretation, gently moderating the next steps of their careers. He always made time for young artists.

And there was another thing that defined him: he never gave up.

One example was the coronavirus pandemic. It was not an option for him to cancel a season of Young Euro Classic. No, he said, if the world cannot travel to Berlin, then we would have to conceive a different festival. The Berlin music academies were full of young musicians from around the world, yearning to perform. The world was already here, he said.

The coronavirus years made many young musicians seriously question the meaning of their chosen profession. Dieter Rexroth opened a door for them. They were grateful to Young Euro Classic for the experience that much remains possible when everything seems impossible: there were outstanding soloistic and chamber music performances at the Konzerthaus, and many tears.

Dieter Rexroth’s love for music and his passionate championing of young musicians shaped Young Euro Classic for 25 years. He was a great philanthropist in the truest sense, gifting Young Euro Classic the richness of his heart and his intellect with unprecedented generosity. Now Dieter Rexroth has taken his leave of us – but not before completing the planning for his last edition of Young Euro Classic, the 25th.

You leave us your warm-hearted encouragement to carry on what you began, Dieter.

Thank you!