The Musical Programme at the Folkwang University of the Arts

Each year, 6 students are admitted into the Musical Theater Department’s Bachelor of Arts Program at the Folkwang University of the Arts. Newly admitted students begin their course of studies every year in the summer semester.
This wide-ranging, eight-semester course of studies seeks to prepare young performers for careers in musical theater through specialized acting, dancing and singing instruction.  

  • Acting instruction: Students receive an intensive foundation in acting (up to 16 hours a week) as well as individual role instruction for the purpose of developing a role repertoire.
  • Dance lessons:  Students receive group lessons in ballet, jazz and tap.  
  • Singing lessons: Students are given individual voice lessons twice a week. Regular coaching sessions with pianists and participation in choral ensembles are also important required features of the vocal training.  
  • Elocution training: Students receive one-to-one as well as group speech lessons during the entire duration of their studies.
  • Further subjects of study: Courses in music theory, musical and theatre history, body movement (e.g. Alexander technique), song interpretation and vocal pedagogy provide the students with an important knowledge base that informs and supports their performance on stage.
  • Performance opportunities: Regular performance venues, such as musical combo concerts, combined with a wide range of projects prepare students to be multi-faceted performers.

Study schedule

The entire course of studies is modular. A student graduates with the degree “Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)” after having successfully completed all modules.

Teaching staff

The internationally renowned teaching staff  - from such countries as the USA, Canada, England, Russia, Switzerland, Israel and Spain - includes experts in various artistic fields as well as performing artists who work regularly in German-speaking theaters.

Projects and collaborations

In addition to regular lessons, students take part in various projects, which are designed to bring together and present the students’ acquired skills in singing, dancing and acting.

These projects include:

  • Musical Club: These are shows independently prepared by 3rd year students.
  • Musical Combos: These concerts are the result of the collaborate efforts of the Musical, Jazz and Music Education Departments.
  • Final Projects: These pieces, which are very popular with audiences, are performed by the graduating class and are most often staged in the university’s performance halls. Co-productions with outside artistic organizations/theaters have become increasingly important over the last years. Co-production partners over the past decade include:

2017 Stage Entertainment GmbH
2016 & 2015 Konzertdirektion Landgraf GmbH / Theater im Rathaus Essen
2014 Theater Oberhausen
2013 Konzertdirektion Landgraf GmbH / Musiktheater im Revier Gelsenkirchen
2012 Konzertdirektion Landgraf GmbH / Theater im Rathaus Essen
2011 Bayer Erholungshaus Leverkusen
2010 Konzertdirektion Landgraf GmbH / Theater im Rathaus Essen
2009 Theater Hagen
2008 Häbse-Theater Basel / Bayer Erholungshaus Leverkusen
2007 Theater am Kirchplatz (Liechtenstein)
2006 Stadtheater Minden
2005 Weststadthalle Essen
2004 Festspiele Bregenz

Click here for Musical final projects in the project database

Theater collaboration: The Musical Department also regularly cooperates on productions of such artistic organizations and theaters in North Rhine-Westphalia as Colosseum Essen, Aalto Theatre Essen, Grillo Theatre Essen, Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf, Oper Dortmund, Oper Bonn, Theater Hagen, Theater Oberhausen and the Recklinghausen Festival. These collaborations provide students with invaluable experience in the professional theater world.

Special events: Due to the increasing popularity of the genre “Musical” in German speaking countries, the musical department’s students are sought after as guests in special events, including galas for companies (e.g. E.ON Ruhrgas, Deutsche Bank, HypoVereinsbank, R.A.G.), as well as in such high-ranking cultural projects as Essen's application to be the 2010 European Capital of Culture. These high-profile performances have increased the department’s visibility and bolstered its elite reputation.


Workshops led by international experts are frequently held to supplement regular lessons as well as to keep students aware of the latest developments in the international musical scene. This international awareness is further cultivated by the university’s active support of exchanges with institutions at home and abroad.

Interdisciplinary cooperation

Interdisciplinary cooperation is a key part of the Folkwang philosophy. Within the framework of various projects, the Musical Department actively cultivates cooperation with the jazz, composition, acting, music education, opera and dance departments, among others. Rehearsals and lessons for various projects take place on campus, and students have access to the entire multimedia facilities as well as to the sound studio.

Atmosphere and surroundings

The Essen-Werden Campus of the Folkwang University of the Arts is located in the idyllically situated Ruhr valley in the south of Essen. Essen itself lies in the middle of one of the most highly populated and important cultural landscapes in Germany, stretching from the Rhineland (Cologne/Düsseldorf) via the Ruhr through to Münster.  

The University’s central offices are located in the baroque Benedictine Abbey overshadowed by the gleaming towers of the abbey church. Modern buildings, such as the Hans-Züllig Dance House, the extended home of the traditional Folkwang Dance Department, as well as the newly built library organically blend with the baroque architecture.

The Musical Department is located in the Weisse Mühle, a heritage protected building dating from the 19th century.

Success rate

Nearly all of the Musical Program’s graduates earn their living in the performing arts. They have been and continue to be engaged in such major en suite musical productions as Joseph, Beauty and the Beast, Ludwig, Mozart, Jekyll & Hyde, Dance of the Vampires, Les Miserables, Kinky Boots, Tarzan and Mary Poppins, to name a few. Folkwang graduates have been and are actively engaged as guests and as permanent ensemble members in every area of the German theater system – dance, acting, musical, and opera - as well as in tour productions, films and television series.


Musical students at the Folkwang University of the Arts are continually among the top prizewinners of the German National Singing Competition (Bundeswettbewerb für Gesang/Musical) as well as of such prestigious international competitions as the Kurt-Weill Foundation’s Lotte-Lenya Competition. Several of the students have been able to pursue part of their studies abroad thanks to Rotary Fellowships and DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) grants.