Folkwang

The Folkwang idea

Music, Theatre, Dance, Design, Academic Studies

The name Folkwang has been a cultural brand name for a long time now, reaching well beyond national borders. For more than 80 years it has stood for music, theatre, dance, design and academic studies, for the interconnection of the arts together, and for interdisciplinary teaching, learning and producing. Today’s Folkwang Folkwang University of the Arts was founded in 1927 by the opera director Rudolf Schulz-Dornburg, the stage designer Hein Heckroth and the choreographer Kurt Jooss. At that time it bore the name “Folkwang School of Music, Dance and Speech”. In Essen it happened to encounter the “National School of Trades and Applied Arts”, which had already existed since 1911. This would later become the “Folkwang School of Design“ and is now part of the Folkwang University of the Arts.

The name

The origin of the name “Folkwang” is in Old Norse mythology. Karl Ernst Osthaus (1874-1921) – the region’s great cultural mediator, patron of the arts and art gallery founder – borrowed the name Folkwang from the Edda in 1902 for his newly founded Museum in Hagen. In the Edda, “Folkwang” is the hall of Freya, who is the goddess of love and beauty. Karl Ernst Osthaus wanted to reinvigorate the industrial region by means of art and culture. Folkwang was to be a meeting place for townspeople of every class – a meeting with art with beauty that was not just part of the social decor but also meant something that would educate people. Under this concept Osthaus also founded a reformed school in 1920, the Folkwang School, which existed only for barely a year on account of his early death.

How Folkwang came to Essen

In 1922 the Hagen Folkwang collection was purchased and moved to Essen, becoming the Folkwang Museum. Rudolf Schulz-Dornburg, Kurt Jooss, Hein Heckroth and other key figures took the name “Folkwang“ as the program for their school: the close union of the muses was the inspiration for the new “Folkwang School of Music, Dance and Speech” in 1927, just as it was in 1928 for the change of name of the “School of Trades and Applied Arts” to “Folkwang School of Design”. From that time on, “Folkwang” has stood for the unity of the arts and the idea of inter-disciplinary cooperation.

“The most important questions in life cannot be solved without the involvement of art”

“Folkwang is the unity of all the arts and all artistic education”

“Change through culture – culture through change”

Karl Ernst Osthaus

Today the Folkwang University of the Arts is a place for interdisciplinary artistic and scholarly research, teaching and practice. In the conflicted zone between tradition and modernity, the Folkwang idea is a claim on us and a challenge that is new every day.