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Culture

Halle's Händel-Festival with Budget Problems

The Händel-Festival in Halle an der Saale is one of Germany's most renowned music festivals. But as it goes into its 51st year, the Händel-Festival is facing financial problems.

One of the festival venues is Halle's new Georg-Friedrich-Händel Hall.

Every summer, the eastern German city of Halle celebrates Georg Friedrich Händel with an international music festival. For ten days, the city is alive with the music of the baroque composer, who was born in Halle in 1685.

Next year, the festival organizers want to make the Händel festival one day longer than in previous years. But as it turns out now, the city of Halle might not have adequate funds.

The additional festival day and a promotion campaign will increase the costs of Halle's Händel-festival by DM 400,000 ($ 182,224). But according to the local newspaper Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, that additional amount hasn't been figured into the city's budget yet.

Deep in the red

Halle city officials will decide on the town's budget in January. And since the 2002 draft budget is already overdrawn by DM 60 million ($ 27.3 million), it's far from certain whether they can grant the additional funds for the Händel festival.

Hanna John, the festival director argues making the festival a day longer will benefit the community because festival guests will be staying in Halle longer and spending more money in town. She also says that the extra day is needed to satisfy the increasing demand for tickets.

Some members of the city council, however, say they don't see why the festival should be made a day longer. They have indicated that it will be difficult to allocate the additional funds.

2002 Festival program

The 2002 Halle Händel-Festival is scheduled to take place from June 7 until 16. Its motto will be "The King shall rejoice", as performances will focus on the music Händel wrote for the British monarch during his London years.

Among the highlights of the festival program are performances of Händel's opera Rodrigo, his oratorio The Messiah and of his Coronation Anthems for King George II. In addition, there will be ballet performances, a baroque dinner at the Kempinski Hotel and exhibitions to honor Georg Friedrich Händel.

In keeping with tradition, the festival finale will be an open-air concert of Händel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks" - complete with elaborate pyrotechnics, of course.

Händel in Halle

Georg-Friedrich Händel (1685 - 1759)

The Händel festival in Halle an der Saale is one of three that are held in Germany every year. The other two festivals honoring Georg Friedrich Händel take place in the northern German city of Göttingen and in Karlsruhe in south-western Germany.

One thing that the Halle festival is especially famous for is its first-class performances. But it's not only musicians and music-lovers who are drawn to the eastern German city every year: Halle is also a major center for Händel research.

The motor of this research is the international Georg-Friedrich-Händel-Society. Its offices are appropriately located in Händel's birthplace in Halle. The Händel Society's main aim is to promote research into the life and works of the baroque composer. It also publishes the "Hallische Händel-Ausgabe (HHA)", a complete annotated edition of the works of Händel. The society began this mammoth task in 1955 and hopes it will be able to complete it in 2023.

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