Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Non-Professional Instrumental Music-Making

Instrumental music played by amateur musicians in Germany is known for its diversity and range. It influences all societal sectors and shapes and sustains Germany’s cultural identity. In Germany today, approximately nine million people play an instrument in their leisure time. The spectrum ranges from A like accordion to Z like zither.

Facts & figures

Crucial date: all seasons
Inscription: 2016
Domains: performing arts
Where to find: nationwide (also abroad)


Deutscher Musikrat
Prof. Christian Höppner

Bundesmusikverband Chor & Orchester e.V.
Dr. Stefan Donath

The repertoire of different ensembles encompasses jazz, popular, church or folk music. Many amateur orchestras reach an outstanding musical level, which is proven in many competitions and concerts. The diversity emerged during the small-state constitution of Germany in the 17th and 18th century. In prince and royal houses it was common that the rulers themselves or their servants played music – all amateurs.

Most amateur orchestras today are organized in clubs or associations and therefore have a high sociopolitical significance, not only in terms of sustaining culture and tradition, but also in terms of community-building and youth-supporting aspects. Therefore, e.g. music associations aren’t just places where music is played, but also institutions of cultural, educational, social and communicative value. Additionally, musical talents are often discovered in amateur orchestras, where they get the chance to acquire prerequisites for a later professional career.

Amateur’s music doesn’t only stick to traditions, but evolves constantly and deals with sociopolitical issues. For people coming to Germany, music can be an intercultural link and through playing music together a common understanding can be created.


Bundesweites Verzeichnis Immaterielles Kulturerbe - Jubiläumsausgabe.
Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission, 2023