In 1723 the 39-year old Johann Sebastian Bach was appointed Cantor at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. And so began the most important part of his creative life. He remained in Leipzig until his death in 1750.
Although there is very little actually known about J. S. Bach’s life (he’s reputed to have had 20 children!), Leipzig and the legacy of this man’s extraordinary music have been intertwined ever since.
In fairness, most events during the Leipzig Bachfest are of interest only to those keen on Bach’s music in particular or classical, baroque, or choral music in general. However, there’s still attractions for the less die-hard fanatics. There’s usually some Jazz gigs (typically in Markt square), various open air and indoor lectures and performances, concerts of other classical works, as well as some modern and avant-garde interpretations of Bach’s work by younger musicians. Despite the pleas to buy tickets for this or that, plenty of the Bachfest is actually free.
Leipzig’s Bachfest is held every year now around the end of June and has been held most years since 1904. It is a major landmark in the city’s cultural calendar. If you miss the Bachfest itself, not to worry as the legacy and history of Bach can still be explored at any time. The interactive Bach Museum, which also houses the Bach-Archive, has much to see and is well worth a visit any time. Likewise the wonderful Notenspur walks are a great way to combine a very pleasant city tour with some discovery about Leipzig’s musical history.
If you have an hour or so to spare watch the wonderful BBC documentary programme called Bach: A Passionate Life. It’s a great storytelling of Bach’s life, music, and the times and places he lived in. (Skip to 47 minutes for the beginning of his life in Leipzig).
BBC radio also has the excellent series Bach: The Great Passion.
And finally. Glenn Gould plays Bach – The Goldberg Variations. One of my favourite head-phones-on music for concentrating while I work.
[page content last updated April 2017]