Bertelsmann is engaged in a variety of cultural initiatives, both in Germany and internationally. The Group’s Culture@Bertelsmann activities comprise exhibitions, literary formats and concerts, as well as efforts to preserve Europe’s cultural heritage.

Culture@Bertelsmann is closely linked to Bertelsmann’s tradition and creative products – because creativity is an engine for diversity and innovation, both in the company and in society.

With this exhibition in the Morgan Library, Bertelsmann fulfilled its promise to make the treasures of the world-famous Ricordi Archive accessible to people around the world.

Music New York Loves Verdi ... and the Ricordi Archive

Starting in September 2019, rare testimonies of Italian opera history from the Milan Ricordi Archive were shown for the first time in the United States. By the end of the year, the exhibition “Verdi: Creating Otello and Falstaff – Highlights from the Ricordi Archive” at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York attracted more than 70,000 music fans, including Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe and Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle. The show, co-created by Bertelsmann as owner of the archive, traced the genesis of Verdi’s last two operas, “Otello” and “Falstaff,” using original scores, libretti, selected correspondence, stage sets and figurines – much to the delight of New Yorkers as well as the press, who called it a “treasure trove for Verdi lovers” and a “gem of an exhibition.”

Film UFA Film Nights: A Journey Back in Time to the Roaring 1920s

A clear night sky, a film orchestra or DJ, and a masterpiece of the silent film era projected against an architecturally attractive backdrop – UFA Film Nights have gained a loyal following with this concept. In 2019, a thousand film fans once again flocked to Berlin’s Museum Island on three consecutive evenings to embark on a journey back in time. Bertelsmann and UFA kicked off the Film Nights by presenting Richard Oswald’s “Eine tolle Nacht” (“A Crazy Night”; 1926/27), a mad ramble through the wild Berlin of the 1920s, followed by Fritz Lang’s visionary “Frau im Mond” (“Woman in the Moon”; 1929) and Ernst Lubitsch’s revolutionary epic “Madame Dubarry” (1919). Celebrity DJ Jeff Mills provided a musical highlight. Later in the year, UFA Film Nights also drew large crowds in Brussels.
Film heritage meets world cultural heritage: UFA Film Nights stylishly screened legendary silent films on Berlin’s Museum Island.
Bertelsmann and the Berliner Operngruppe once again presented a musical rarity from the Group’s own Ricordi Archive: Puccini’s “Edgar.”

Music An Impressive Setting for Puccini’s Early Opus ”Edgar“

“Edgar,” Giacomo Puccini’s second opera, initially flopped upon its premiere at La Scala in Milan in 1889. However, the piece about love, fidelity and betrayal was then revised several times by the highly talented young composer at the insistence of his publisher, Ricordi. It wasn’t until the final version of 1905 that the work and its creator finally won international recognition. Bertelsmann and the Berliner Operngruppe, led by conductor Felix Krieger, presented this version to a Berlin audience for the first time in February 2019, thereby continuing their series of performances of rare operas from the Ricordi Archive in Milan. In preparation for the performance, Krieger traveled to Milan specifically to study the original documents on “Edgar.”

Art ”No Photos on the Dance Floor!“

At the “No Photos on the Dance Floor!” exhibition in the fall of 2019, the C/O Berlin gallery presented spectacular photos, videos and sounds from 30 years of Berlin club culture. These exhibits documented how, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, young creatives, techno fans and night owls from East and West have flocked to the clubs to live it up and celebrate “far from the daily routine and common sense.” Bertelsmann supported the show, which quickly turned out to be a crowd-puller. The Group’s support was natural considering its music subsidiary BMG represents well-known artists from the Berlin scene. Prestel, an art book publisher from Munich owned by Bertelsmann, published the book accompanying the exhibition.
“Konfettinacht, 2007.” The picture by Berlin photographer Carolin Saage was one of the highlights of the exhibition at C/O Berlin.
More than 170 authors took a seat on the Blue Sofa in 2019 – 95 of them at the Leipzig Book Fair alone.

Literature Literary Speed-Dating on the Blue Sofa

The Blue Sofa – one of Germany’s most successful literary formats, and hosted by Bertelsmann, ZDF, Deutschlandfunk Kultur and 3sat – was all but ubiquitous in 2019. At the Leipzig and Frankfurt Book Fairs and accompanying reading festivals, stars and newcomers of the literary scene met every half hour to talk about their new books on the iconic blue piece of furniture. The discussions were sometimes profound, sometimes exciting, mostly personal and always revealing. And once again everyone was there, from Nobel Literature Laureate Olga Tokarczuk to former German President Joachim Gauck; from crime-thriller star Sebastian Fitzek to audience-favorites-turned-authors like Thomas Gottschalk and the YouTube stars “Die Lochis.” The Blue Sofa also made an appearance at the Goethe-Institut’s cultural symposium in Weimar in June, as well as twice at the Gütersloh Theater with Dörte Hansen and Elke Heidenreich as guests. It also served as the venue for an “Architecture Summit” in the new James Simon Gallery on Berlin’s Museum Island in November.