The festival that's known today as Yiddish Summer Weimar has its origins in an invitation by Georg Mackrodt (✝2009) to Alan Bern and Brave Old World to conduct a workshop on Yiddish music in Weimar as part of the 1999 European Summer Academy.
The success of this workshop led Dr. Julia Draganovic, director of the Kulturbüro LaRete, to develop a festival with Alan Bern as artistic director, the "Weimar Klezmer Weeks." Dr. Draganovic managed the festival until 2002, when his role was taken over by Stephanie Erben, operating under the sponsorship of the Kuratorium Schloß Ettersburg e.V.. In 2006, the non-profit organization othermusic e.V. was founded with Alan Bern as chair and Stephanie Erben and Katrin Petlusch as vice-chairs. The Weimar Klezmer Weeks had by then evolved into one of the most internationally respected summer institutes for Yiddish music and culture. In view of its expanded scope and new independence as a project of othermusic e.V., the festival was renamed Yiddish Summer Weimar.
Many things made possible the rapid evolution of the festival over these years: the passionate commitment of participants and teachers, the enthusiastic reactions of Weimar audiences, the loyal support of the city and other project partners, the untiring help of volunteers, the financial and moral support of regional, national, European and international foundations, public sector institutions and private sponsors, the very positive attention of the press and other media and the ceaseless work of the management team. All of these factors and more contributed to the success of Yiddish Summer Weimar and enabled us to envision a permanent, year-round, new international center for intercultural, interdisciplinary projects in the areas of the arts, research and education – the Other Music Academy in Weimar.
Alan Bern & Johannes Gräßer
(For more details about the first ten years, including photos, posters, and more, please see the archive).