Posts Tagged ‘Johann Sebastian Bach’

St. Thomas Boys Choir – 800 years

Monday, June 29th, 2015

The  world-famous St. Thomas Boys Choir of Leipzig, Germany, is first mentioned in 1254. But most likely, the choir is as old church itself. The St. Thomas Church came into being in 1212 when Margrave Dietrich of Meissen founded an Augustinian Monastery on this spot. Toward the end of the 15th century, the church’s Romanesque nave was razed and replaced by the late-Gothic “Hall-Church” that we see today. In fact, the architecture of today’s church has not changed much since the end of the 15th century.

St. Thomas Church, Leipzig Photo © J. Elke Ertle

St. Thomas Church, Leipzig
Photo © J. Elke Ertle

Choir Director Johann Sebastian Bach

From 1723 to 1750, the renowned composer and musician of the Baroque period, Johann Sebastian Bach, led the St. Thomas Boys Choir. At that time, the chorus consisted of 54 boys. Today, about 100 boys and young men sing in the choir. Their primary focus is the preservation of Bach’s choral music. For that reason, weekly Friday and Saturday motets have become a permanent musical tradition at St. Thomas. Bach Passion Concerts and the Christmas Oratorio draw thousands of visitors each year. https://www.thomaskirche.org/r-st-thomas-boys-choir.html The present leader of the choir is, Georg Christoph Biller, the church’s 36th cantor. https://www.thomaskirche.org/r-st-thomas-boys-choir.html.

During a recent visit, I was able to enjoy a Friday motet with the St. Thomas Boys Choir. The church was packed, and we were not disappointed. Music and setting succeeded in linking us emotionally to a long-forgotten time period.

Statue of Johann Sebastian Bach in front of the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig Photo © J. Elke Ertle

Statue of Johann Sebastian Bach in front of the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig
Photo © J. Elke Ertle

The Bach Organ

The organ from Bach’s days no longer exists. In 2000, for the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death, St. Thomas acquired a new organ. This new instrument, with its 61 registers and 4 manuals with pedal, looks and sounds similar to an organ of the 18th century.

Historic events at St. Thomas

The Lutheran St. Thomas Church has a long and eventful history. Not only has the St. Thomas Boys Choir sung here for the last 800 years. Many other important events took place in this church as well: In 1409, the University of Leipzig was founded in the monastery. In 1539, Martin Luther preached at St. Thomas, introducing the Reformation to Leipzig’s citizens. From 1723 until his death, Johann Sebastian Bach was Cantor of the Thomas school. In 1789 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played the organ here. Mendelssohn performed at St. Thomas, and in 1813 Richard Wagner was baptized here. Since 1950 the St. Thomas Church is the location of Johann Sebastian Bach’s remains. Originally buried in an unmarked grave outside the Johanniskirche in Leipzig, Bach was moved to his final resting place at the foot of the church’s altar.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

1000 years city of Leipzig

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

The city of Leipzig, Germany, is celebrating its 1,000th anniversary this year. Thietmar, Bishop of Merseburg, mentioned the Saxon trading town for the first time on 20 December 1015 in his chronicle.

Year-Around Leipzig Sights

Leipzig is a city full of interesting history and culture: There is the Thomaskirche where Johann Sebastian Bach worked as a music director. The Thomaner Boys Choir has delighted audiences for 800 years. The first Christmas market took place here in 1458. Auerbach’s Keller is a tavern that was already frequented by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. His classic legend “Faust” is set here. You can still visit the tavern today. The University of Leipzig was founded in 1409, and the Leipzig Zoo opened its doors in 1878 for the first time. The old shopping arcade of Specks Hof is located here, and so is the famous concert hall, the Gewandhaus. The beautiful, old St. Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church), is located in Leipzig. It rose to national fame in 1989 when its Monday peace prayers became an integral part of East Germany’s peaceful revolution against communist rule. Leipzig is also the birthplace of institutions such as the German Publishers and Booksellers Association and the German Football Association.

Maedler Passage, Leipzig, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

Maedler Passage, Leipzig, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

Special 2015 Leipzig Events

Leipzig is a delight to visit at any time, but this year will be even more exciting because of the many birthdays that will take place this year. The city of Leipzig will celebrate its 1000th anniversary. Both, the St. Nikolaikirche and the Leipziger Messe (Leipzig trade fairs) will see their 850th birthday. And Leipzig’s Central Train Station will turn 100 this year. Many special events are scheduled throughout the year. Below are some of the highlights:

May 1- to May 25 – Leipzig’s Museum of Fine Arts will present a Paul Klee exhibition, exhibiting about 100 expressionist’s works.

May 17 to May 24 – St. Nikolaikirche’s first festival celebrating 850 years.

May 20 to Oct 25 – Exhibition “1015 – Leipzig from its beginning”

May 22 to May 31Wagner Festival

May 31 to June 7 – The Titanick Theater is enacting Leipzig’s 1000-year history at different places throughout the city, and the Gewandhaus Orchestra is playing Mendelssohn’s “Hymn of Praise,” accompanied by a 1000-voice choir.

June 27 to July 5 – Festival “850 Years Leipzig Fairs” at the trade grounds.

July 10 to 11 – Open air concert “Klassik Airleben” with the Gewandhaus Orchestra.

October 9 – Festival of Lights.

December 20 – Closing event in the Augustusplatz, including the cutting of the grand birthday cake with 1000 candles.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.