The goal of the training at the “Staatliches Musikheim” in Frankfurt an der Oder was to promote community through dance, drama and music. The ideals of this reform pedagogical project of the Weimar Republic are also embodied by the architecture of the building, which opened in 1929. The sprawling red brick building was designed by Otto Bartning.
Music educator Georg Götsch, a leading proponent of the youth music movement, was the force behind founding the centre of further education for schoolteachers of music. Architect Otto Bartning deliberately separated the different functions – dance, music, theatre and housing – into the different parts of the building. The dormitory areas were accommodated in a rigorously organised L-shaped wing that was joined to the heart of the building ensemble: a bright, cubic space with large windows that served as the theatre hall. A corridor-like wing with seminar rooms led to a round tower featuring a canteen on the ground floor and a room for chamber music and round-table talks on the upper floor. The northern end of the winding building was terminated by an agricultural wing. In the spirit of the reform pedagogical concepts taught at the Musikheim, students were able to move “freely and rhythmically” throughout the complex.
The spatially varied building emphasised the strong affinity between music and architecture, but it is also exemplary of the entire oeuvre of Otto Bartning, who became famous primarily for his church buildings: the building group is, on the one hand, reminiscent of a cloister in its self-contained nature and its function, yet on the other hand, its strict adherence to the Bauhaus philosophy and the style of the New Objectivity clearly links it to classic modernism. Otto Bartning played a key role in developing the programme for the Bauhaus prior to its founding and was actively involved for decades in the German Werkbund.
The Musikheim operated under the direction of Georg Götsch from 1929 to 1941. After the war, the building became the home of the Kleist Theatre, thus prompting multiple alterations and additions. In 2001 the theatre vacated the premises, which were subsequently leased by various tenants. The future use of the listed historic monument, which is in dire need of renovation, is uncertain. [KM/DK]
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