The international reputation of Bayreuth as a cultural capital is mainly as a result of the Richard Wagner Festival. Around 60,000 visitors from many different countries experience the landmark interpretations by the stars of the Wagner Festival.
Since the Festival was renewed in 1951 under Wieland and Wolfgang Wagner, it has been accompanied by "The International Youth Festival" - founded by Herbert Barth, the former chief press officer for the Festival - with an ambitious artistic programme. Since 1982 the “small festival” has been making use of the courtyard of the historic Steingaeber piano factory, where the young artists can rehearse before their official performances. The same stage is used by the well – known, independent theatre group which plays also in the “Studiobühne Bayreuth” (with a capacity of 214 seats), in the Eremitage and Sanspareil Rock Garden. The group performs its own, but very well committed adaptations of Wagner’s pieces.
The piano virtuoso Franz Liszt, Cosima Wagner’s father, came frequently to Bayreuth. In 1886, while visiting the Festival, Liszt died and his body was interred in the town’s
cemetery. Quite a few famous names are to be found there today, like the Duke Alexander of Württemberg or Jean Paul. Numerous members of the Wagner family are buried there as well.
In the house where Franz Liszt died, near the Villa "Wahnfried" there is a museum where the memory of the piano virtuoso is kept alive. The city has over 20 different museums, which bring the rich cultural heritage of Bayreuth to life.
19th century Bayreuth was influenced not only by Wagner, but also by Jean Paul. Mozart’s "Bäsle" Marie Anna Thekla lived in the Franconian town for 27 years until she died in 1841. The philosopher Max Stirner developed his ideas in the shade of the town’s main church, before he died in 1856 at the age of 50.
Even today artistic activities are not limited to the two months of the Festival in summer. The "Musica" series of concerts look back on a long tradition and the touring Bavarian State theatre performs during the week of the Franconian Festival. A wide range of concerts is performed by the "Kulturfreunde’’ in the winter season. Every year, well-known theatre groups and solo artists perform live. The "weekend for Modern Music" has been established at the Steingraeber piano factory. At grass-roots level, much is being done in the field of music – in the town’s college of music, or in the orchestral societies. The state academy of protestant church music contributes to the formation of young musicians, and is known for its overall high standard in the field of religious music.
Bayreuth is a mainstay of the Hof city federation theatre, whilst touring theatres also enrich the stages of Bayreuth.. From a theatre group of the youth Festival, several groups have been created; the professional "Studiobühne", known throughout the country, and the amateur groups "Kulturstadl", "Kleines Theatre" and the "Bürgerressource".
In the last few years Bayreuth has seen the opening of a number of galleries: pioneering work in this field was carried out by the B.A.T. Campus-Gallery, then by "Steingraeber" and more recently by numerous ambitious galleries in the town centre. The art association made it its task to increase outside interest for the fine arts in the city of music. Each year it organises large expositions at the Eremitage.
Bayreuth offers jazz concerts, comedy and music festivals for every taste. In the "Oberfrankenhalle" (a multi-purpose-hall) pop and rock stars perform regularly. Groups of chamber ensembles who play the music of the Court of the Margraves, popular customs cultivated by very active associations, and contemporary art, which receives a lot of support, are all a fixed part of the cultural programme of the city.