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Bach Tour - Places associated with Bach
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

The Paulinerkirche

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (February 19, 2009):
Many of you will know of the Paulinerkirche in Leipzig, which was blown up on the orders of Walter Ulbricht in 1968.

Bach knew this building well, and was known to have greatly admired its organ. And some of his works were first performed there. It survived WWII with minimal damage, and its acoustics had not changed since Bach's time.

Does anyone have any thoughts about why exactly plans to reconstruct this church have met with such opposition?

www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1300201
www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=61806
http://brothersjuddblog.com/archives/2004/12/worshipping_the_state_1.html
www.paulinerkirche.org
www.paulinerkirche.de
www.paulinerverein.de
www.npr.org/programs/atc/features/2003/jun/leipzig/leipzig.pdf

Paul T. McCain wrote (February 19, 2009):
[To James Atkins Pritchard] That order was one of the more idiotic, brutish actions of the communist regime in East Germany.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (February 19, 2009):
[To Paul T. McCain] I entirely agree.

But my question here has to do with why plans to rebuild have been rejected. At one point it appeared that it might be rebuilt much as the Frauenkirche in Dresden was.

I should have thought that its historical and cultural importance would have been clear even to those with no interest in the building as a place of worship. Wouldn't it have been wonderful for the music of Bach to have been performed there once again?

I really can't get my mind around how these people are thinking.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 20, 2009):
James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
< But my question here has to do with why plans to rebuild have been rejected. At one point it appeared that it might be rebuilt much as the Frauenkirche in Dresden was. >
The same debate surrounded the rebuilding of Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow which the Communists blew up. Some of the question revolves around whether a building is being restored or rebuilt. In the latter case, we have to ask, is it a new building?

In the ruined city of Les Baux in Provence there was an exquisite Romanesque chapel which only required a new roof and windows. I always said that if I was a millionaire I would pay for its restoration. I was absolutely thrilled when I discovered that the church was being readied for a new roof and look forward to a future visit to see it completely restored.

On the other hand, I would never want to see Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire restored even though it is possible. The ruins are far too Romantic to be tampered with.

Paul T. McCain wrote (February 21, 2009):
Anyone who has been to Leipzig and gazed upon the "beauty" of worker's paradise architecture should long for any improvement, at all! Such hideous monstrosities. One of the buildings still has one of those absurd relief sculptures on it, which, I'm told, if removed would mean the whole building would have to be torn down, which strikes me as a very good idea, all the way around.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (February 21, 2009):
[To Paul T. McCain] I am not sure if you mean the box structures of the old Soviet Government or you mean the reconstruction of all the Baroque Buildings that burned to the ground when Liepzig was bomb almost out of existence by American and British Forces in retribution for all the rocket attacks on London during WWII IF you mean the reconstructed Baroque building---I must protest.

If you mean those faceless concrete boxes then I must agree but then those that are livable usually have cheap rental prices that artists and musicians (who have not hit the big time yet) can afford. These buildings look worse than those built in the 1950s as Federal Housing unites for welfare families in the United States which are often dangerous places to live because of gangs et al. Cambrini Green in Chicago use to be a good example of this until they were torn down.

Paul T. McCain wrote (February 21, 2009):
William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote:
>I am not sure if you mean the box structures of the old Soviet Government <
I was referring to "the worker's paradise" structures in Leipzig, a reference to the Communist era East Germany buildings in Leipzig.

Paul T. McCain wrote (February 21, 2009):
William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote:
>I am not sure if you mean the box structures of the old Soviet Government <
Of course I was referring to the "worker's paradise" ugly structures built during the Communist era, on the present public square in Leipzig where the Paulinerkirche once stood, which is the subject of this thread. But I suspect you knew that. <g>

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 22, 2009):
Schloss Zerbst (was originally The Paulinerkirche)

James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
< I entirely agree.
But my question here has to do with why plans to rebuild have been rejected. >

I think it's just a lack of money, Germany is feeling the economic pinch in a really big way. The Dresden church was rebuilt during a much more robust economic period, so funding it was easier.

But I am saddened like you - I wished it was rebuilt.

I will mention in passing another sad story of destruction of baroque structures: Schloss Zerbst, where Johann Friedrich Fasch was Kapellmeister, survived till the very last days of WW2, when it was bombed. Most of the building was in a shambles, but it could have been rebuilt, that is until local communist officals decided to tear down 2/3 of the ruins. A single wing survives and there have been many efforts to prevent further destruction. Zerbst has no plans on rebuilding the schloss due to the enormous costs.

There is an offical webpage: http://www.schloss-zerbst.de/html/frame_def.htm

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (February 22, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Thanks for this information, Kim. I wish Zerbst could rise again also.

 

Bach and Leipzig

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (March 14, 2009):
I recently reported on the Organs that Bach played in Leipzig. None supposedly survived due to the Firestorming of Leipzig during WWII that reduced Leipzig to a rubble resembling Hiroshima and what was left of Charleston, South Carolina during the Civil War after General Sherman left.

However, I have an old lp recording of E.P. Biggs playing a Bach Program entirely on the Organ at St.Thomas made back in the 1960s. According to the record jacket (or somewhere I read) the Organ was taken down and buried or hid and thus escaped the fires et al that Leipzig was subjected to.

Can anyone verify this.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 14, 2009):
Ludwig wrote:
< I recently reported on the Organs that Bach played in Leipzig. None supposedly survived due to the Firestorming of Leipzig during WWII that reduced Leipzig to a rubble resembling Hiroshima and what was left of Charleston, South Carolina durinthe Civil War after General Sherman left. >
Are you thinking of Dresden here? Leipzig was bombed, but not as severely as Dresden which was literally flattened. Many of the principal medieval and Renaissance buildings in Leipzig survived.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (March 14, 2009):
[To Ludwig] I think I'm correct in saying that the organ Bach played at the Thomaskirche is long gone.

The Wilhelm Sauer organ was built at the same time of the renovation of the Thomaskirche in the neo-gothic style. It was completed in 1889 and is generally regarded as best suited for romantic music. It's still in the the Thomaskirche.

The Alexander Schuke organ was completed in 1967 and moved (I think) to the rebuilt Cathedral in Fürstenwalde in 1999. In any case it's no longer in the Thomaskirche. This however is (I think) the organ played by Biggs on the recording you mention.

The Gerald Woehl organ was completed in 2000. It is said to be an instrument especially well-suited to Bach's music. The organ case resembles that of the organ in the Paulinerkirche, which Bach preferred to his own instrument in the Thomaskirche. The Paulinerkirche was NOT destroyed in WWII but was rather in a stunning act of barbarism blown up (along--I think--with the organ Bach so loved to play) by the communist authorities in 1968.

The Johanniskirche (where Bach was buried, though his remains are now in the Thomaskirche) was very heavily damaged in WWII and was then demolished (except for the Baroque tower) in 1949. The tower was blown up 1963.

Sherman spared the city of Charleston, and it's still full of beautiful antebellum buildings.

I'm fairly certain that what I've written is correct but I'd be grateful if these comments could be confirmed by someone more knowledgeable than I.

Hope this helps,

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (March 15, 2009):
James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
< The Gerald Woehl organ was completed in 2000. It is said to be an instrument especially well-suited to Bach's music. The organ case resembles that of the organ in the Paulinerkirche, which Bach preferred to his own instrument in the Thomaskirche. >
Those interested in the Woehl organ may find this link of interest: www.gillianweir.com/cds/oms4.shtml

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (March 15, 2009):
[To James Atkins Pritchard] You are incorrect re: Sherman and Charleston. It was Savannah, Georgia that was spared and only because of the Mayor met Sherman at the outer city limits and begged him to spare Savannah. In exchange for not doing so; Sherman was allowed to make Savannah his headquarters until he began his march northward. into Charleston. In order to do this they had to build roads (which US 17 travels over today) through the swamps (not an easy task) which delayed his entry into Charleston and resulted in many battles along the way. The Jardine Organ of Edisto Presbyterian Church had made it through enemy lines and just had been set up only to be stolen by Union Soldiers, placed aboard a barge which was then sunk by the Confederates. It rests today (if anything is left of it) at the bottom of the Edisto River. From Charleston'; Sherman traveled westward to Columbia which he also just about burned to the ground---the Statehouse survived (you can still see places where cannon balls hit it). From Columbia, Sherman "marched" northward until he got to North Carolina where the War ended in a farmhouse where supposedly it began(I have my doubts about it beginning there because I was taught it began in Charleston when Citadel Cadets fired on Ft. Sumter on orders of General Beauregard (who was then President of the Citadel---to this day the names of these cadets are unknown.). Sherman presented Savannah to Lincoln as a Christmas present (in a famous letter). Charleston was burnt to the ground and blown up or shattered by Cannons. You can see photographs of this in American Civil War books. Only a few homes survived in Charleston and what you see today was rebuilt from the rubble of the past. There is a remote connection here with Bach.

I can not recall the surname at the moment but Bach had trusted him to teack one of his children. Also one of the later daughters move to the US and brought with her many of JS Bach's works which she subsequintly destroyed.

We have had much about J.S. on this list but most of us know little to nothing about all of Bach's children, who their married and their children. Do some of the American Bach Family trace their ancestory bck to J.S. ? Is the reason that W.F. Bach could not hold a job was because the expectations of having a famous father or was it that he might have been gay and being depressed because that was a no- no back then ---since he often left jobs until "opaque circurmstances.

Why did the communist blow up the Paulenkirke? Anyone know what happened to the Organ aside from atheism. It seems that they could have kept it as a museum as they did many of the churches in Russia. Who gave the orders for this barbarism?

Why was the Tower of the Johanniskirke blown up after surviving the firestorm bombing?

Who gave the orders for this? It would seem that since many foreigners traveled to Leipzing during the Communist era---that they would have preserved these buildings as museums to bring in much needed income through tourist dollars.

Mike Mannix wrote (March 15, 2009):
The Bach organ which was buried was one of the Hamburg organs.

 

Cöthen / Stricker, Fasch and Bach

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 12, 2009):
I recently worked on a trio sonata by of Augustin Reinhard Stricker, who was a musician at Cöthen. My publisher/editor is also editing several cantatas by Herr Stricker, so in a recent E-mail exchange, I was told that some new research shows that Johann F. Fasch was commissioned by the Cöthen court to compose serenatas in the 1730s and 1740s, with a gap of a few years between.

None of the serenata texts survive, much less the music, indeed a sad set of event for lovers of Fasch's music. But the bigger question (and why I'm posting it here for some speculation)-- why wasn't Bach commissioned to write these pieces?

I must confess I do not know much about the history of the Cöthen kapelle-- I assumed that after Bach left, the musical establishment was reduced to almost no musicians, and the funeral ode that Bach wrote was performed by one time hire musicians. Apparently that's wrong.

Could anyone on the list that has extensive knowledge about Cöthen and the history of the kapelle fill out the broad outline of its history? And is there any record of the music library? What happened to it? Are there any traceable records that indicates when it vanished?

 

Modern Dresden

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 15, 2009):
A rather sad article:

"In Dresden, High Culture and Ugly Reality Clash"
NY TIMES
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/15/arts/15abroad.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

Russell Telfer wrote (August 15, 2009):
Douglas showed us this link.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/15/arts/15abroad.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

Douglas Cowling wrote:
< A rather sad article: >
Very true. But keep it in perspective. This, at one level, is an attack on the German nation, or perhaps on Russians. But there are few countries, nations, communities or tribes that are free of the stigma of racism. You could say that xenophobia is the necessary soil in which racism is cultivated. I can't think of any nation that is free of these troubles. Even the Scandinavians have to deal with them. Education is the best antidote, but it can't cope with all incidences of human virulence, like this one perhap.

It's very unfortunate that it happened in such a wonderful place. Lots of measures could be taken to stop it happening again, but I don't think the door can ever be totally closed on all human perversity.

 

Nikolaikirche in Leipzig

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 29, 2009):
There's a nice youtube video clip of the interior of the church during an organ recital or practice session.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNnGLdJNzPM&feature=related

Beautiful church in the baroque/rococo style.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 2, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Lovely footage: the whiteness of the Baroque makeover of the Gothic church is quite striking, although you can still see the peculiarly German medieval star vaulting.

It's worth noting that the church retains its side galleries which gives the feeling of a contemporary opera house. The apse would function as a sounding board to amplify sound.

I wish there was more detail of the choir loft.

Eduard van Hengel wrote (November 2, 2009):
There is another video on the Nicolaikirche: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmOEDEWC408

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 2, 2009):
[To Eduard van Hengel] Amusing to see that the chairs for a concert are set up at the chancel steps, the one place where music was never performed and which has the worst acoustics of any location in such a building.

You can see quite clearly how intimate a space the architectural choir and sanctuary are. This is where the scholarship boys from the St. Thomas School came to sing the office of Matins at 5:00 am each day in alternation with St. Thomas'. They would have sat "cathedral-style" in the choir stalls on either side of the central aisle so that they could alternate antiphonal verses in the Latin psalms. They also sang metrical canticles and chorales in German, all unaccompanied. As in all monastic choirs, the space is congenial for the performers who are singing the rite vicariously for the rest of the city who are probably still at home in bed. Bach himself would have grown up daily singing these collegiate style Latin offices.

I was also interested that the upper level of the galleries abutted directly onto the choir loft so that extra space was available for large orchestras. There are quite a few contemporary illustrations of brass and timpani playing from adjacent galleries. Bach's frequent habit of grouping trumpets and timpani as a distinct "choir" (e.g. "Christen ätzet diesen Tag") would be enhanced by the modest spatial separation.

 

J.S. Bach's Performance Environment in the Nikolaikirche from 1723 to 1750

Aryeh Oron wrote (November 12, 2009):
Thomas Braatz contributed a new article to the BCW.
"J.S. Bach's Performance Environment in the Nikolaikirche from 1723 to 1750"
Arnold Schering has provided a detailed description of Bach's performance areas in St. Nicholas Church and has indicated the difference between the performance venues at this church and at the St. Thomas Church about which there is substantially less information.

See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Nikolaikirche-Braatz.pdf
Linked from: http://bach-cantatas.com/Articles/index.htm

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (November 12, 2009):
Thanks to Thomas Braatz for a beautifully executed essay, and the illustrations are fantastic. Heck, even the typography and layout is top notch. Mucho gratias! Having materials like this online at the Bach Cantata Website makes it without a doubt one of the best resources on the Internet for Bach and baroque music.

Many thanks to Thomas and Ayreh for this!

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 13, 2009):
[To Aryeh Oron] This is fascinating material. Perhaps the oddest feature is the placement of the organ which atypically was not in the centre. From the watercolour and the floor plan, it appears that the organ was in the left gallery, the choir gallery was in the centre, and the windowed loggia pews for dignataries were on the right.

Do we have idea who used these pews which allowed the worshipper to attend but not be seen? They are quite prominent in the Frauenkirche in Dresden: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/87/278381428_a448b489ff.jpg

In royal chapels, these boxes allowed dignataries to attend without an official welcome or public seating in the sanctuary. Foreign royalty and royal women in particular could attend without any ceremonial fuss.

In assessing the acoustics of a reverberant building, it is worth remembering that it is the height of the gallery and the performers' proximity to a gallery ceiling or the church's vaults that ampifies the sound. The original Nickolai gallery was essentially a three-sided room elevated it appears about 20 ft above the floor. Any music performed there would have filled even the largest church.

Russell Telfer wrote (November 13, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Thanks to Thomas Braatz for a beautifully executed essay, and the illustrations are fantastic. >
Kim's email has prompted me to to say that I have been reading Thomas Braatz's posts (from offstage, as it were) and I am grateful to him personally for the information he has given. He is one of the comparatively few authorities on the web who keeps us up to date and provides us with the occasional reality check.

Those of us who mostly just express opinions need to know that there are some gatekeepers out there to keep us in order. (Thanks Tom, thanks Aryeh.)

William Hoffman wrote (November 14, 2009):
J.S. Bach's . . . Nikolaikirche: Fugitive Notes

William Hoffman replies:

Charles Sanford Terry's <Bach: A Biography> (2nd Edition, OUP, 1933) has 76 illustrations and photographs following the index. It includes, No. 69, another Schwartz painting (reproduced in black & white) dated 1785, from almost the same exact perspective, with more details, including the brick floor. Terry also has, No. 67, "a drawing by Joh. Stridbeck in the Old Rathaus," showing the church exterior with steeples, corniced roofs with stain-glass windows, and the main entrance with a main tower flanked by two bell-towers (with clocks), as well as a Terry photograph, No. 68, of the adjacent Nikolaischule.

Two bits of information:

1) In 1724, Bach forced the Town Council, which ordered him to present the annual Passion at St. Nikolas, to pay for a choir platform installed for safety and space needs. Apparently the interior up front was badly in need of repair.

2) The annual Town Council Installation cantata and special services for the Dresden Court, such as the Thanksgiving and Allegiance services in the early 1730s, were all presented at the Nikolas Church as the official government venue for church services, as well as the official church for the Lutheran hierarchy, such as Superintendent Deyling's congregation. This probably explains the curtained boxes for dignitaries, both civil and ecclesiastical, as well as, I would assume, local businessmen and their families.

See: Guide to Bach Tour: Leipzig - Photos Part 8

 

Bach / Dresden : Why so little instrumental music

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (December 5, 2009):
After looking at the music collections of the Dresden State Library, there are many pieces by Telemann and Fasch. Quite a few of the copies are in Pisendel's hand, and a few of those pieces would naturally feature a solo violin concertante part. I know Fasch's patrons in Zerbst was given a leave from Zerbst to visit the Dresden court and pahim for this visit. There are several orchestral suites (scores) that survive and some indicate a bit of haste in composing-- the quality is excellent mind you. The same applies for Telemann, many orchestral suites have their unique source only in Dresden, including the late and very chromatic Ouverture in g minor, TWV 55:g8.

Fasch and Bach had their eyes on Dresden as potential jobs. Fasch was in chronic debt and was persecuted a bit for his Pietist leanings. We know Bach wasn't thrilled with circumstances in Leipzig too. I personally believe that Bach wrote many more instrumental pieces than we have now, particularly orchestral suites. Sure, Bach's forte was vocal sacred music, but given the enormous amounts of instrumental concerts given in Dresden-- why aren't there any Bach pieces to be found? Especially during the period when Dresden had no court composer, it would seem the most opportune time to have sent a clutch of music manuscripts including some orchestral suites.Of course, there is the possibility such pieces were destroyed later during the bombardment of Dresden by Frederick the Great.

Has there been any speculation about why the dearth of music by Bach when so much Fasch and Telemann (and others) survives in Dresden? I did Google around a bit before I posed this question, I am aware of Bach's mass contributions and the secular cantatas for state visits in Leipzig, but I’m speaking specifically about INSTRUMENTAL music for Dresden.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (December 5, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< After looking at the music collections of the Dresden State Library, there are many pieces by Telemann and Fasch. Quite a few of the copies are in Pisendel's hand, and a few of those pieces would naturally feature a solo violin concertante part. I know Fasch's patrons in Zerbst was given a leave from Zerbst to visit the Dresden court and paid him for this visit. >
Sorry about that clunky sentence structure: Fasch was given the paid leave to visit Dresden for a few months, his patrons didn't visit Dresden ;)

< There are several orchestral suites (scores) that survive and some indicate a bit of haste in composing-- the quality is excellent mind you. >
Again-- some Fasch suites were composed on the spot in Dresden, and some haste is evident in the handwriting, but the quality of the music is absolutely top notch.

Thanks for your patience ;)

 

BCW: Guide to Bach Tour - Revised, updated & expanded version

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 31, 2009):
Just before the end of the year, I have finished another big project: revising, updating and expanding the section of Guide to Bach Tour on the BCW. See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Tour/index.htm

The revision includes mainly converting all the pages in this section from the old format to a new (and nicer, so I hope) format.

The expansion includes mainly adding 5 new places associated with Bach (Collmen, Dörna, Gehren, Heiligengrabe, and Merseburg), resulting in the total number of 50 places!

Collmen, for example, is a small village (about 300 inhabitants) near Colditz, about 52 km south-east of Leipzig. In the late days of November 1735 Magister Abraham Kriegel, a pupil of Bach at the Thomasschule, married in the small village church of Collmen, the local pastor's daughter. Bach and the rector of the Thomasschule, Johann August Ernesti were invited to the wedding. Both came together in a carriage to Collmen, and from there back to Leipzig. The trip offered a lot of time to discuss important and less important matters.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Tour/Collmen.htm

Each Place associated with Bach has at least 3 pages:

Main page:
- Description
- History, including notable people, especially musicians
- Bach Connection
- Events in Life history of J.S. Bach
- Performance Dates of Bach vocal works (if applicable)
- Bach Festival & Cantata Series (if applicable)
- Features of interest (Venues associated with Bach are marked with bold blue)
- Information & links

Maps page, including usually maps of:
- Town Center
- Town
- Area
- Location within the district & the state
- Location in Germany
- Google Maps (interactive)

Photo pages, including some hundreds I took during my 2nd Bach Tour in May 2004, photos scanned from various brochures and publications collected during my two Bach Tours (1999 & 2004), and photos from other sources.

Special pages:
Life History of J.S. Bach: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Tour/Life.htm
Route Suggestions (including the routes of my two Bach Tours): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Tour/Route.htm
General Maps: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Tour/Maps.htm
including page with small maps which lead you to the Maps page of each place: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Tour/Map-Places.htm
Symbols (Coats of Arms) of all the places: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Tour/Symbol-Place.htm

Now that you have all the needed info for a comprehensive Bach Tour. No excuse would be accepted. Set the dates (June might be a splendid time because you can combine the Bach Tour with the Bachfest Leipzig), do the arrangements and go.

Others can relax on their seats at their computers and experience a virtual Bach Tour. There is a lot to read and see in the new version of the Guide to Bach Tour.

As usual, any correction, addition of info and material, suggestions for improvements, etc. would be most welcome.

A Happy New Bach Year to all of you!

John Pike wrote (December 31, 2009):
[To Aryeh Oron] Wonders never cease. A very happy New Year to all Bach lovers.

David Hitchin wrote (December 31, 2009):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thank you for all of your work on this site.
<>

Ed Jeter wrote (January 1, 2010):
[To Aryeh Oron] Aryeh, Thanks for the wonderful New Year’s gift you have given to all lovers of Bach’s music.

In turn Chiara Massini this morning in Vienna put on two You Tubes videos of her performances of Bach’s English Suite BWV 807 that we can all enjoy also. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDWJOKEdKLA

Happy New Year to All,

 

New Yorker: Letter from Dresden

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 29, 2010):
The February 1 issue of the New Yorker has a rather sobering article about the political dimension of the reconstruction of Baroque Dresden and its status of a cultural icon

Abstract: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/02/01/100201fa_fact_packer

Well worthreading.

 

"The J. S. Bach Journey" - Martin Randall Travel

Drew wrote (April 13, 2010):
[Sigh]. . . if only I had an extra J 2500 . . .
Martin Randall Travel: The J. S. Bach Journey - Introduction

The private concerts look amazing:
Martin Randall Travel: The J. S. Bach Journey - The Concerts

Julian Mincham wrote (April 13, 2010):
[To Drew] Yep I have booked to go on this--It looks excellent.

 

Bach at Home!

Julian Mincham wrote (June 27, 2010):
I’m penning a few words for those who like to hear of concerts others have attended. For those who don’t, hit delete now!

I have just returned from a life-enhancing tour of East German villages where Bach lived and worked. The really great part, though, is that we got to hear a series of concerts of his music in the churches and spaces where they were originally performed.

In the church where Bach spent a year at Mühlhausen we heard the cantatas BWV 150 and BWV 106, certainly two of the very earliest ones. Also included were BWV 196 and BWV 230. Later at the Rathaushalle we heard three violin sonatas played by John Butt and Lucy Russell. John is perhaps, better known as an organist but he is a fine harpsichordist as well. They hope to record the full set of violin sonatas later this year and it should be a CD to look out for if what I heard is an indication (I turned the pages for John so could not get as emotionally involved as in other concerts---but as a consolation he gave me a copy of his recent Bm Mass (BWV 232) CDs which I have yet to hear. But I will be interested to compare my reactions with those already expressed on list)

At Eisenach we heard BWV 4 and two works by Johann Christoph Bach, the ‘expressive’ Bach who had died in 1703. Very interesting to hear the music of a man who must surely have been an important influence on JSB. His musical structures were based much more upon dramatic declarations of the text and repetitive devices such as ground bass.

At a rebuilt concert hall at Ohrdruf where Bach spent his earliest years we heard two splendid young musicians, one playing the cello suites 3 and 4 and the violinist the chaconne from the Dm violin sonata. The acoustics were perfect for these excellent performances.

At Dornheim we heard the oboe concerto reconstruction and the wedding cantata BWV 202. This allowed us to hear both the oboe and oboe d’amore in the church where Bach was married (we heard the da caccia , too, in
later concerts)

One of the highlights of a tour packed with high spots was the performance of the St John Passion (BWV 245) in the Schloss in Weimar. This was certainly the most exciting performance of the work I have ever heard. It was directed by Paul McCreesh who used a band of 15 players, a solo quartet and a ripieno quartet to add in the main choruses, sing the crowd scenes and provide the voices for the smaller parts. Placed on either side of the orchestra it worked extremely well.

In St Jacobi in Sangerhausen we heard Michael and Martina Pohl play the St Anne prelude and fugue and passacaglia and fugue in Cm and a chorale prelude 582. This was an organ which Bach had inspected and played upon and it appears to have changed very little over the years. It continues to make a very good sound in the church.

In the Schloss in Còthen we heard Brandenburgs 2, 3, 4 and 6 with the harpsichord concerto in Dm (BWV 1052) and the double violin concerto. The last concert was in the St Nicholai church in Leipzig and the programme included BWV 75 (Bach’s first cantata to be presented at Leipzig) two motets and ending with the magnificent Magnificat. This was the only concert to use an enlarged choir of about 35. All other performances used one singer per part.

I haven’t the time to describe these concerts in the details they deserve. However the emotional impact of hearing superb performances of these works in those settings was pretty much indescribable. The degree of ‘authenticity' was only partial; all wind instruments were copies of C18 models and we saw much use of viols and gambas, theorbo etc but the upper strings were sometimes modern instruments. As I said above all but one of the vocal performances were ovpp although the alto and soprano lines were always women—the standard of the singing was consistently high and, although all concerts were given from the floor of the churches rather than in lofts, it was clear that four voices and a half a dozen instruments could fill the spaces easily. Having heard these concerts there is now (if before there was a tiny bit of hesitation) in my mind no doubt that the arguments for ovpp (and ripieno voices when required) has now been fully established. It was noticeable however that the further away from the musicians you were the more reverberation there was, particularly at Mühlhausen. I’d like to have heard at least one concert where the music floated down from above.

Other delights were the visit to the Bach house museum (where Bach may have been born—certainly in was in that same street) and the Leipzig Bach museum which is so much better and more comprehensive than it was when I was last there 5 years ago. Don’t miss it if you plan to visit St Thomas’s (it is virtually next door) and allow a couple of hours to see it properly. Incidentally, most of the small German towns are, even despite the Bach connections, lovely places to visit. There were too unimportant to be bombed in the war and money seems to have been available to keep the buildings in good condition since the wall came down.

I think it will take some time fully to absorb the richness of this experience, certainly for me a lifetime ‘one-off’. So much more that could be said, but it’s time to stop!

William Hoffman wrote (June 28, 2010):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I think it will take some time fully to absorb the richness of this experience, certainly for me a lifetime 'one-off'. So much more that could be said, but it's time to stop! >
Awesome. How did you book this trip?

 

St. Thomas, Leipzig - 800 years

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 18, 2010):
Website for the 800 yr, celebration of St. Thomas, Leipzig in 2012: http://www.thomana2012.de/

 

Bach Wohnung in Leipzig

Marc Boss wrote (May 28, 2011):
See: Bach Wohnung in Leipzig (Picassa)

This is a study on Bachs lodging in Leipzig .The aim is that they trace on the side walk the limits of the appartement or else they dig out the walls of the old sT tHOMAS SCHOOL! Or bach fans thru out the world give some money to rebuild the first two floors of the lodgings.

In 2012 they are celebrating the 800 yeas of the school this schould bve considered!!

 

BCW: Guide to Bach Tour

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 25, 2011):
The guide to Bach Tour contains information about every place associated with J.S. Bach, 50 in total. For each place: Description & history, Bach connection, Relevant events in the life of Bach, Performance dates of Bach’s works, Features of interest, Information & links, Photos, Maps; Recommended routes.
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Tour/index.htm
If you have any addition/correction/suggestion, please inform me.

 

The Catholic Chapel Royal in Leipzig

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 215 - Discussions Part 3

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 27, 2013):
An interesting account of Catholicism in Bach's Leipzig (caveat: the online Catholic Encyclopedia occasionally has a pious overlay that needs to be double-checked)

"After the Reformation was accomplished, Catholicism became wholly extinct; at least there is no mention of any Catholic parish until about 1710. Only during the time of the fair Franciscans came from Halberstadt to Leipzig to say Mass No mention is made of where the services were held. In 1710 the Catholics received permission to celebrate Mass openly, and Elector Frederick Augustus I, who became a Catholic in order to be King of Poland, gave up the chapel of the Pleissenburg to them, where on 3 June, 1710, Mass was again said. The parish was in charge of the Jesuits, at first two fathers, but after 1743 there were three. As chaplains of the elector, or king, they received from the court in Dresden their salaries and rent allowance. The Catholic school also found a place in the Pleissenburg. When in 1738 the chapel became too small for the faithful the elector gave funds to replace it by a larger one. The fathers did not confine their activity to Leipzig alone, but extended it as far as Merseburg, Chemnitz, Naumburg, Wittenburg, etc.; and from 1749 they were also entrusted with the spiritual care of the prisoners. After the suppression of the Society of Jesus, the fathers remained as secular priests . The priests, who subsequently laboured in Leipzig, came for the most part from Austria, particularly Bohemia. When in the nineteenth century, the chapel of the Pleissenburg became dilapidated, and had to be given up, the town council placed the Matthäikirche at certain hours at the disposal of the Catholics. The necessary means for the building of a new church had been partly collected by the zealous efforts of the chief pastor of the Saxon Catholics in those days, Bishop and Apostolic Vicar Franz Laurens Mauermann. In 1845 the foundation stone of the first Catholic church was laid, and in 1847 it was consecrated by the new bishop, Joseph Dittrich."
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09138b.htm

A couple of points relating to the Chapel Royal and royal visits during Bach's tenure:

The conversion of the Elector meant that there had been a Catholic presence in Leipzig for only just over a decade when Bach arrived. It must have still been something of novelty and probably scandal to the Lutheran
city: the Catholic mass being celebrated a short distance from St. Thomas' and St. Nicholas where Bach's Cantata 126 was proclaiming,

"Maintain us, Lord, within thy word,
And fend off murd'rous Pope and Turk,"

The Jesuit clergy were royal chaplains who were part of the Dresden chape establishment and thus beyond the control of the city council. It is probably incorrect (as the article says) that this was a normal Catholic parish and thus open to any citizen. It appears that mass was accessible during the time of the fairs when royal visits were frequent. It is more likely that the Pleissenburg chapel was like the Catholic chapels attached to foreign embassies in London (e.g. St. James, Spanish Place) where normally conforming Protestants could observe the Roman rite.

The presence of a school attached to a Jesuit chapel is not surprising. One assumes that the boys attending were the children of royal officials who were constitutionally bound to Catholic conformity. Like the Catholic embassy chapels, it appears that Catholic citizens were attending mass in the chapel because the king funded an expansion.

The school and expansion suggests that the liturgy may have been growing during Bach's tenure. Did that mean a larger musical establishment? Who provided the music when the king was in town? Bach certainly had the necessary mass music in his personal library. The king may have already heard his music before the Missa of the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) arrived in Dresden.

Curious and curiouser ...

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 27, 2013):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< An interesting account of Catholicism in Bach's Leipzig
The Jesuit clergy were royal chaplains who were part of the
Dresden chapel establishment and thus beyond the control of the city council. It is probably incorrect (as the article says) that this was a normal Catholic parish and thus open to any citizen. It appears that mass was accessible during the time of the fairs when royal visits were frequent. It is more likely that the Pleissenburg chapel was like the Catholic chapels attached to foreign embassies in London (e.g. St. James, Spanish Place) where normally conforming Protestants could observe the Roman rite. >
I know the printed version of the Catholic Encyclopedia from years ago; their articles were heavily sourced, which isn't the case for the online version unfortunately. The Elector converted in 1693, so if the establishment of a Catholic chapel was really only for his visits and court officials, he waited a long time. I think the gist of the article is accurate, especially in the context of the activities of the priests assigned to that parish. They weren't just there for the occasional royal jaunts to Leipzig. And only the royal family converted to Catholicism, so unless Augustus was bringing all 300 illegitimate children to Mass, the crowded church services requiring a larger worship space more than likely had to do with the local Catholic population. So it sounds like there was a pretty active Catholic community in Leipzig.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 27, 2013):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< the crowded church services requiring a larger worship space more than likely had to do with the local Catholic population. So it sounds like there was a pretty active Catholic community in Leipzig. >
That surprises me. Were there any legal penalties against Catholics for non-conformity before the Elector's conversion? Were Catholics permitted at the University? Who were these Catholics? Foreigners? Merchants? Even the Catholic writer of the history admits that Leipzig had been pure Lutheran for 200 years. If there were a sizable number, it speaks to the cosmopolitan character of Leipzig.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 27, 2013):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< That surprises me. Were there any legal penalties against Catholics for non-conformity before the Elector's conversion? Were Catholics permitted at the University? Who were these Catholics? Foreigners? Merchants? Even the Catholic writer of the history admits that Leipzig had been pure Lutheran for 200 years. If there were a sizable number, it speaks to the cosmopolitan character of Leipzig. >
Here is what Wikipedia has:

To be eligible for election to the throne of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1697, Augustus had to convert to Roman Catholicism. The Saxon dukes had traditionally been called "champions of the Reformation." The duchy had been a stronghold of German Protestantism and Augustus's conversion was therefore considered shocking in Protestant Europe. The electors of Saxony had to cede its prestigiorole as leader of the Protestant Estates in the Imperial Diet to Brandenburg-Prussia. Since the prince-elector guaranteed Saxony's religious status quo, Augustus's conversion alienated many of his Protestant subjects. As a result of the enormous expenditure of money used to bribe the Polish nobility and clergy, Augustus's contemporaries derisively referred to the Saxon duke's royal ambitions as his "Polish adventure. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustus_II_the_Strong - cite_note-Czok-3

It is noteworthy that the directorate of the Corpus Evangelicorum, which was the official Imperial board of the Protestant Estates and the counterpart of the Corpus Catholicorum, remained under Saxon auspices with the Roman Catholic Augustus, paradoxically, at its head. His church policy within the Holy Roman Empire followed orthodox Lutheranism and ran counter to his new-found religious and absolutist convictions. The Protestant Princes of the Empire and the two remaining Protestant Electors (of Hanover and Prussia) were anxious to keep Saxony well-integrated in their camp. According to the Peace of Augsburg, Augustus theoretically had the right to re-introduce Roman Catholicism (see Cuius regio, eius religio), or at least grant full religious freedom to his fellow Catholics in Saxony, but this never happened. Saxony remained Lutheran and the few Roman Catholics residing in Saxony lacked any political or civil rights. In 1717 it became clear just how awkward the situation was: to realize his ambitious dynastic plans in Poland and Germany, it was necessary for Augustus's heirs to become Roman Catholic. After five years as a convert, his son—the future Augustus III—publicly avowed his Roman Catholicism. [ This means the conversion of Augustus II was kept secret for five years!] The Saxon Estates were outraged and revolted. It was becoming clearer that the conversion to Roman Catholicism was not only a matter of form, but of substance as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustus_II_the_Strong - cite_note-Czok-3

The wife of Augustus I, the Electress Christiane Eberhardine, refused to follow her husband's example and remained a staunch Protestant. She did not attend her husband's coronation in Poland and led a rather quiet life outside Dresden, gaining some popularity for her stubbornness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustus_II_the_Strong - cite_note-Flathe-2

The article cites:

August der Starke und seine Zeit. Kurfürst von Sachsen und König von Polen (in German), Munich: Piper, ISBN 3-492-24636-2.

Julian Mincham wrote (September 27, 2013):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< The wife of Augustus I, the Electress Christiane Eberhardine, refused to follow her husband's example and remained a staunch Protestant. She did not attend her husband's coronation in Poland and led a rather quiet life outside Dresden, gaining some popularity for her stubbornness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustus_II_the_Strong - cite_note-Flathe-2 >
Which probably explains why students at the university were keen to mourn her loss and why Bach was engaged to write the music for the event BWV 198.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 27, 2013):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< In 1717 it became clear just how awkward the situation was: to realize his ambitious dynastic plans in Poland and Germany, it was necessary for Augustus's heirs to become Roman Catholic. After five years as a convert, his son—the future Augustus III—publicly avowed his Roman Catholicism. [ This means the conversion of Augustus II was kept secret for five years!] The Saxon Estates were outraged and revolted. It was becoming clearer that the conversion to Roman Catholicism was not only a matter of form, but of substance as well. >
The situation is somewhat reminiscent of James II of England who converted to Catholicism before he succeeded his brother, Charles II, in 1685. Parliament was willing to accept his private Catholic faith but his attempts to introduce religious tolerance for non-Angiicans was resented. The birth of a male Catholic heir made the Catholic succession a reality, and Parliament deposed him in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, giving the crown to his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange.

It's a fascinating period musically because, for a time, there were two Chapels Royal, Anglican and Catholic. The Anglican chapel had Purcell but some composers, like John Blow, wrote for both establishments. There are accounts of music-lovers attending Evensong in St. James Palace and then promenading down the Mall to Vespers in Whitehall Palace. Not unlike the polar opposites of the Frauenkirche and Hofkirche in Dresden.

The larger point here is that both Chapels were vicarious places of worship. The establishments were extensions of the sovereign's person, even if he was not physically present. The same must have been true in Leipzig. The Lutheran citizens accepted a Catholic cuckoo in their midst because it was part of the king's continuing presence in the city. The musical provisions for the chapel may have been modest — a schola for plainsong and an organist? A couple of soloists? -- but, during a royal visit, the personnel must have been augmented with singers and instrumentalists from Dresden. The Drammi outside in the courtyard may have been matched in splendour by the masses and Vespers in the chapel.

Intriguing to speculate if Bach was an observer to any of the Catholic rites. It would help to explain his comprehensive knowledge of contemporary Catholic service music.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 27, 2013):
No drawings of the castle chapel, but the engraving of the 17th century siege shows that the fortress was a massive building. The tower of the 19th century city hall seems to be a reimagining of the medieval castle's
tower: "The Siege and Surrender of Leipzig and Castle Pleissenburg in October/November 1642": (Web Gallery)

An interesting link which plucked out references to the Pleissenburg, including the music sung at Luther's disputation in 1519: http://wordincontext.com/en/pleissenburg

The conversion of the chapel where Luther launched the Reformation in Leipzig into a Catholic church must have deeply wounded Lutheran sensibilities.

Aryeh Oron wrote, on behalf of Thomas Braatz (September 29, 2013):
Thomas Braatz contrubuted:to the discussion a PDF containing a translation of a first-hand account describing the location in Leipzig where Catholics were holding their services in 1728.

Thomas Braawrote:

I have found a short description of the location where Catholics convened for their services in Leipzig in 1728. The descriptive adjective "zierlich" (=petite, dainty, delicate), the diminutive form of the word for chapel, Capelgen, and the word, Zimmer, (=a room, not large, in a building) all lead me to suspect that the accommodation of singers and musicians for services where Catholics were assembling for worship would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible.

See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/WeissPleissenburg.pdf

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 29, 2013):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< I have found a short description of the location where Catholics convened for their services in Leipzig in 1728. The descriptive adjective "zierlich" (=petite, dainty, delicate), the diminutive form of the word for chapel, Capelgen, and the word, Zimmer, (=a room, not large, in a building) all lead me to suspect that the accommodation of singers and musicians for services where Catholics were assembling for worship would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible.
See:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/WeissPleissenburg.pdf >
Thanks for this document. It certainly suggests that the original provision for Catholics was modest in establishment. I would be interested to know if the term "Capelgen" is the equivalent of "Oratory" in English which designates a space for personal prayer but which doesn't always denote size. A personal chapel or oratory can be church-sized.

And "Capelgen" doesn't necessarily preclude music even concerted music. There are descriptions of royalty all but alone in a chapel except for the clergy and musicians and the court in adjacent rooms.

Do you have any thoughts who the Catholics were that made it necessary to provide a larger chapel? And who are the non-conforming Reformed Lutherans who are given space in the Government House?

 

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