FRM Hot Spot: The New Cathedral of Strings in Kronberg

The Kronberg Academy is to get a new home. From 2022 highly gifted musicians who have trained at the Academy on violin, viola and violoncello will demonstrate their skills in the “Casals Forum.

For now the building is a mere shell, more like a UFO sitting next to the expansive Viktoria Park at the foot of Kronberg’s quaint old town. Kronberg lies in the Hochtaunus county far 20 minutes from Frankfurt. The grey concrete structure gives only an inkling of what is to take shape here: a chamber music hall seating around 600 with a stage for up to 65 musicians – one of a kind in Europe. Staab Architects has designed a complex with a transparent glass facade that will create a visual link to the park landscape, and which meets high acoustic standards thanks to its “free form” with curving convex and concave walls. The opening of the “Casals Forum” is scheduled for 2022. Then the famous Kronberg Academy will finally have a home.

This unique cultural institution came about in 1993 from an international “get-together of cellists” in Kronberg and today trains no less than 25 of the world’s most highly gifted young musicians on the violin, viola and violoncello. Instructors include renowned musicians like Christian Tetzlaff, Mihaela Martin, Tabea Zimmermann and Frans Helmerson. One of the better-known students is Santiago Cañón Valencia, a cellist who recently won second prize and the public choice award at the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Competition. A name to take note of.

The cellist, founder and CEO Raimund Trenkler still has vivid memories of how, back in 1993, he sat on the floor for three nights before the first concert and stamped the date, row and place number on every single ticket. Today, such famous names as Yuri Bashmet, Christoph Eschenbach, Gidon Kremer or Sir Andras Schiff are on the Artistic Council – not forgetting Marta Casals Istomin, the widow of the world-famous cellist and humanist Pablo Casals, after whom the chamber music hall is named. With his appeal for art and humanity to go hand in hand, Casals gave the Academy its basic values and provided it with orientation.

Yet the Academy would hardly be conceivable without its many generous private sponsors. It is thanks to their support that the day-to-day work of the Academy is possible at all, work that culminates in the Kronberg Academy Festival held every two years. Here, the red carpet is rolled out in Kronberg’s old town and world-famous soloists and talented young musicians transform the town of just 18,000 in the Hochtaunus district near Frankfurt into the “world capital of the cello”, as the world-famous cellist Mstislav Rostropovich once named it.

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