The music festival Kasseler Musiktage was founded in 1933 by the “Arbeitskreis für Hausmusik”. By inaugurating this festival, the organisation which emerged from the youth and amateur music movement in which Bärenreiter and its director Karl Vötterle had a close interest, aimed to create an event which would present a counterbalance to the approaching political and cultural Gleichschaltung (the bringing into line of cultural institutions). “True-to-style and exemplary performance”, “singing and playing for ourselves” and “introductions to new music” were the key messages to be brought across in the first programme in autumn 1933. In the six music festivals which took place before the outbreak of the Second World War, the mixed programmes ranging from renaissance and baroque music to the moderate contemporary music of Distler, Pepping, Bornefeld and others, quickly achieved recognition far beyond Kassel.
This mixed programme was initially maintained for the first music festival after the war in 1950. Then.a gradual change from literal participation to intellectual participation took place. From 1970 onwards, an mostly ambitious theme was chosen for each year which also featured in lectures and symposia. New programme areas were added such as the series “neue musik in der kirche“, which offered a forum for avant-garde church music. The programme also began to feature previously neglected eras such as the romantic period. First performances of works by well-known composers by notable artists now form a firm part of the Kasseler Musiktage.