Germany’s next Culture Minister will be Green

Germany’s next Culture Minister will be Green


norman lebrecht

November 25, 2021

The culture portfolio has been allocated to the Green Party in Olaf Scholz’s new left-liberal coalition.

No minister has yet been nominated but some turbulence can be expected after the long, capable and supportive custodianship of Merkel protégée Monika Grütters (pictured).

The new coalition agreement contains a Green-inspired clause for decolonisation and returning cultural object of a colonial origin.


  • Gustavo says:

    With the liberals in charge of transportation and logistics.

    Essentially meaning that opera houses will no longer have aircon, will be powered by wind turbines (that kill birds), while the audience will arrive in big-fat SUW, travelling >130 km/h on the autobahn.

    Oh joy!

  • Sebastian Scotney says:

    Dr Grütters’ effective support for the German jazz scene (alongside another jazz fan Bundespräsident Steinmeier) has been an extraordinary feature of the past few years. Definitely a moment to express appreciation and thanks.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      They’ll drive Germany towards the cliff, but the music will be nice. Good one!!

    • HugoPreuss says:

      That is probably bc she liked jazz. Good for jazz and jazz musicians.

      As for any cultural subfield Grütters was not interested in, her “long, capable and supportive custodianship” was more like Voldemort being headmaster at Hogwarts… I know many people who will be dancing in the streets once Grütters is gone. Communicating with her minions at the ministry was a nightmare.

      That does not mean that her replacement will necessarily be better. But I will still open a bottle of champagne on the day she leaves office, and I mean this literally, not metaphorically.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      Update: the new State Minister for Culture and Media will be Claudia Roth (Green). She is a former music manager and has been the Vice President of the German Parliament Bundestag since 2013. Not a bad choice at all.

  • Andreas B. says:

    also part of the coalition agreement: ‘culture’ to be protected as part of the constitution:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about “turbulence” with a new appointee – after all, this post was first created in Schröder’s SPD/Green coalition government in 1999 and has never been very party-political.

    The first two ‘Beauftragte der Bundesregierung’ (even today, the post is technically not a minister and has no vote in the cabinet) were already highly respected: Michael Naumann and Julian Nida-Rümelin.

  • John Borstlap says:

    For classical music, a hughe task appears at the horizon, the range of which will be quite overwhelming: all the German classics, who have colonized music life not only in Europe but all over the world, even to deep into China’s mainland, will have to be cancelled: their perverse, suppressing works condemned to the dungeons of justice to never be able to escape and poison the world. Bach, Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Wagner, Mahler, Strauss, Schreker, Hindemith, and a couple of composers I can’t remember but who will certainly have to go as well.

    But that is only one part of the challenge. Next: all the Klangkunst which has been developed on German postwar lands and its offspring, which can be found everywhere.

    The enormous gap which will result, will then finally be filled with the fresh offshoots of feminine and minority music, bred on local soil without the pesticides of knowledge, and radiant of a new era of justice and vegetarian purity. A sharia will be installed to make sure the freedom of pluralism will be protected by strong measures, to make sure no enslaving cultural appropriation and suppression will ever happen in serious art music, so that freedom can finally reign in music life. As Busoni already said in 1902: ‘Frei ist die Tonkunst geboren, und frei zu werden ihre Bestimmung!’.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      You absolutely understand where this is going, and thank you for your bravery. The hard Left will always drive the nation towards the cliff, populated as it is with intelligent thinkers who are sadly also stupid.

      Intelligent thinkers are paradoxically limited; they believe in their own moral superiority and that non-university-educated people are those who are stupid.

      Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • The Green Party in Germany has historically not been a strong supporter of classical music which they define as bourgeois and elitist. The Green Party politician, Theresia Bauer, has been the cultural minister of Baden-Württemberg since 2011. She tried to eliminate 2 of the state’s 5 universities of music (Musikhochschulen.) She met with so much resistance from the populace that she backed down.

    She has also pressured the Musik Hochschulen to become more relevant–or what the Green Party defines as such. There is a much stronger emphasis on folk music. Guitar and traditional German wind bands have thus been emphasized at the university where my wife teaches. Also new aspects of music technology used by young people–understood by the Greens as something along the lines of boys in hoodies playing laptop synths. The Greens feel that is more relevant.

    At the University of Music in Trossingen there is now a large department called Music Design. Most of it is devoted to digital music technology. The students in this department are not even required to be able to read music, even though they are given degrees from a music conservatory.

    The Greens have openly said that Pop, Rock, Jazz und Punk are more widely spread in society than classical music and should thus have their public funding increased. (See the url below.)

    The Greens could be trouble for Germany’s traditional strong support for classical music. It’s difficult to predict what will evolve. Time will tell.

    • V.Lind says:

      I just hope today’s German politicians are mindful of the not-too-distant past where themes of “decadent” art led to much banning and also to the book-burning of anything that was interpreted to be antipathetic to the will of the regime.

      They should also have the sense to recognise that pop, rock and the like are market-driven and market-supported. They need less public funding than the high arts.

      I have absolutely no objection to people preferring different forms of music, nor even to its being studied formally. It exists as a part of social development. But I continue to despair of people who cannot see past yesterday and who have neither the inclination nor, increasingly, the ability to learn from the longer past. When I think of how enriching I find it, I am mystified as to how so few today can see its value. (I begin to remind myself of Mr. Crocker-Harris in The Browning Version). Have they no idea of what is being lost?

      • John Borstlap says:

        It all stems from the progressive mindset – one of the greatest fallacies of modernity, namely that anything new is for that reason better than anything that already exists. It is immature romanticism around the concept of ‘modern’, a brain infection which began in the course of the 19th century as a side effect of scientific developments, soon spreading all over the arts (‘Il faut être absolument moderne!’ Rimbaud). It is typically embraced by the large number of creatively ambitious but lazy inhabitants of Western society who find in rejecting the past an ideal excuse to not have to take notice of things that are far superior to themselves and to whatever they could ever produce without a trajectory of learning. In short: it’s play ground stuff.

        Institutions need numbers of students for their money and status, so they lower their standards so that the illiterates can enjoy their delusions for a while. And all udner the cover of ‘diversity’ and ‘tolerance’ and ‘pluralism’.

        I fully agree that there is nothing wrong with pop, rock and the like, they are there for amusement or consolation or identity flag waving. But that has nothing to do with serious art which is supposed to be on a much higher level of sophistication and maturity. But what to do when so many people prefer to freeze their immaturity, until in their old age?

        And when you try to explain the reality of the matter, it is seen as one of those incomprehensible apophthegms.

        • V.Lind says:

          I agree with most of your argument, though I am not entirely persuaded by your opening. I doubt most of today’s young would have a clue what romanticism is.

          I think it is a result of things being spoon-fed to them, for which I find the most pernicious influence, much as I am a devotee of its greatest doings, is television. (Radio, even commercial radio, requires a little more give-back from audiences). And on the whole I suspect the parenting skills of the post-60s generation will not top God’s league tables of best parenting.

          As for teaching — I remember Hacker in Yes, Minister thinking of conscription as a solution to youth unemployment: “and they’ll give them a progressive education to make up for their progressive education.”

          The ultimate result is laziness — reading older books, listening to serious music, even watching an intelligent movie, require EFFORT, a word indolents of all generations resist. I am convinced minds have atrophied after years of their parents fighting all their battles for them at school, of watered-down education demands, of years of being parked in front of cartoons and mindless sitcoms with laugh tracks to tell them what’s funny, leading to movie tastes that seem to be based upon studios plumbing the depths of a comic-book universe for subjects and the sequels ad nauseam so they don’t have to respond to anything they didn’t know before from their own limited lives.

          These are music’s audiences — which is bad enough. But, even worse, they are its creators — creators with no interest in the history of their craft, or even the tools of it. It’s the same in too much of today’s writing. I met a young man writing a novel, who asked me if I liked a particular body of literature. I said I did not, because it had no reference — acknowledging that there were some fine exemplars of good writing within it, but that I felt even there no connection to the wider world of literature.

          I do not despise modernity — where would be be if the Impressionists had not taken their own look at the world around them, or Debussy and Ravel had not? Or Elvis Presley, for that matter. If John Osborne and his contemporaries had not taken postwar British drama and literature out of the drawing room and into the kitchen, out of the Home Counties and into the North, on a West End Stage?

          But they, and Presley and the Beatles and a good few that came after them, were still schooled in a world beyond their front door. They moved their disciplines, but did not deny that they were part of one. They were rebels, and innovators.

          |for me it usually boils down to two word: they read. Those words don’t carry much weight with a generation whose canvas is a portable screen where they can “connect” to uncurated (in its best and original sense) and sub-literate communications in the form of text. We have really saddled the world with a population who literally need to be introduced to the “readin’, writin’, arithmetic” skills our generation and those before us took for granted. They cannot read beyond “U R Gr8”, they cannot write anything beyond their signature, except maybe a tweet — and for that they depend upon spellcheck — and for sums they whip out the calculator “function.” And they are already in government, determining where public money will be spent. With “ideas” fomented by Twitterati and BTL commentary.

          I like the Greens, in general, because they have been among those striving to improve the world in order to save it. But I find their focus on important issues has made them all too malleable to pressure groups formed by the ignorant, when they step outside their own natural remit. Let’s keep an eye on this Minister. We are used to a strong and intelligent leadership from Germany, so her decisions may cross borders all too fast.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Yes classical music is bourgeois and elitist. Only bourgeois and elitist people listen to it, they don’t like it but want to give the impression of being superior to people like me, who have to work hard for their bread & have to endure corections all the time for their typoos! Thes German greens should also make Boules part of enforced learning at schools, to show that any note is OK and that it’s a symbol of liberation, any person is OK like any note is.


    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      When a political party (especially in Germany) talks about culture and backs what is and is not good I get hairs standing up on the back of my neck – when there aren’t any there!!

      How easy it is, once again, to fool gulls.

  • Gary Freer says:

    Lots of Mendelssohn and Schumann to look forward to, then. Not Felix or Robert.

  • Giora says:

    Good luck !!

  • JB says:

    Most of German music institutions (orchestras, operas, concert halls, music schools) are financed by the Länder and municipalities and the federal government has relatively little influence on it. It might be most felt in Berlin where federal money pays for parts of the cultural institutions because its the capital.

  • Gustavo says:

    In Grün will ich mich kleiden.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      It’s a nice metaphor, isn’t it. That way you can blend in with your natural surroundings and not be noticed. Conformity is all.

  • Andreas B. says:

    Claudia Roth, currently Bundestag’s vice president – and a regular at the Bayreuth festival, seems to be the nominee.,SplXyGi

  • JB says:

    The name has been announced: Claudia Roth.

  • La plus belle voix says:

    Just to correct a possible misconception here: although Claudia Roth will be given the title of “Kulturstaatsministerin” (Minister of State for Culture), she will, like her predecessor, Monika Grütters, hold the portfolio without actually having a Ministry of Culture, i.e. she has no staff and there is no Ministry of Culture per se. Roth, like Grütters and Nida-Rümelin before her, will report directly to the Chancellor, Olaf Scholz in this case. Cultural affairs (as JB points out above) are the remit of each Federal State and essentially autonomous. Roth will offer general guidance but has no power to dictate, intervene or overrule the “Länder” in this respect.