Leipzig - German City of Bach, Mendelssohn, Wagner and Goethe

by Maritravel

A city steeped in classical music with a history centred around the 15th century Gothic Thomaskirche where the choir from 1723 until 1750 was conducted by one Johann Sebastian Bach

Bach is but one famous composer whose legacy is celebrated in this compact town. The great Felix Mendelssohn set up the Leipzig Conservatory at which Robert Schumann taught. Nowadays the Schumann Festival, the annual Bach Festival and the Mendelssohn Festival are the highlights of the year in Leipzig. Nor does Leipzig ignore other music: there is even a Jazz Festival and there is an Opera and Ballet season as well.

Wall Decoration on University in Communist Times
Wall Decoration on University in Communist Times
Mari Nicholson

Leipzig as Revolutionary Centre.

 

The thumbnail picture above the title of this article is one of the old Trabants that at one time was the only available car to the citizens of Leipzig.  No longer.  Today that city from the former East Germany is a powerhouse of trade and a cultural centre for all things musical, attracting visitors throughout the year to worship at the shrines to the many famous musicians who once resided here.Trabant

But Leipzig has more claims to fame than just its musical heritage.  The Nikolaikirche (St. Nikolai Church) was the ignition point of the peaceful revolution which brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989.  The demonstration of Octobe r 9th attracted 70,000 people a number that increased to 120,000 the following week and to 320,000 on October 23rd when the demonstrators marched from Nikolaikirche to the Stasi HQ.   By November 9th the Berlin Wall was down.

St. Nikolai Church

Surprisingly the church is highly ornate (it is, after all, a Lutheran church) and the ceiling is painted by Adam Oeser who was Goethe’s drawing teacher.  Historians put this down to the fact that the church’s ostentation is tied to Leipzig’s growth as a merchant city with the Michaelmas fair actually being held at St. Nikolai.  Leipzig’s fairs have always been among the most important in Europe. ( I remember attending the Leipzig Toy Fair when I worked in the toy trade, but there were furniture, spices, wine and food fairs as well).

Statue of J.S. Bach near St. Nikolai Church
Statue of J.S. Bach near St. Nikolai ...
Mari Nicholson
Schiller
Schiller
Mari Nicholson
Buskers Play in Schloss Platz
Buskers Play in Schloss Platz
Mari Nicholson

Music, Concerts and Other Attractions

There is a concert every night some place in Leipzig

 

What attracts visitors to Nikolaikirche today is the St Thomas's Boys Choir which can be enjoyed at St Thomas's Church every Friday a cappella (on Saturdays with a Bach cantata) with soloists and the Gewandhaus Orchestra.   This Boy’s Choir was founded almost 800 years ago, making it Leipzig's oldest cultural institution and among its well-known choirmasters were Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Hermann Schein, Johann Kuhnau and Johann Adam Hiller.   The choir can regularly be heard singing oratorios, passions and masses by J.S. Bach in addition to sacred vocal music, madrigals and secular a cappella works from the Renaissance to the present day.  CD’s of the choir’s performance can be had in the church shop.

Concerts of classical and romantic music are held on Sundays in the music salon of the restored Mendelssohn House and although events change yearly, you will usually find classical music concerts taking place in front of the Bach statue at the Thomaskirche and in front of the Opera Leipzig at the Augustusplatz there are often an few buskers playing.

Figures over City Hall
Figures over City Hall
Mari Nicholson

The City Built on Trade

The City Built on Trade

Everything took place in the city centre and as merchants’ houses were also part warehouses, a special type of architecture developed designed around a central passageway through which carriages would drive.  Their wares unloaded by cranes, they would drive out the other end.  With fairs filling the calendar and attracting merchants from all over Europe, the city became known as “Europe’s Market” and eventually had its own Stock Exchange.  During the communist period in the 20th century, Leipzig was the most important trading post for the Comecon nations.

Famous Kellar
Famous Kellar
Mari Nicholson
Beergarden in Leipzig
Beergarden in Leipzig
Mari Nicholson

Shopping Malls in Leipzig

 

Under the arcades of the Old Town Hall, is a good place to start a shopping trip if you are looking for Leipzig souvenirs.  Mädler Passage, which leads on to Königshaus-und Messehofpassage, has a selection of luxury shops and boutiques to warm any shopper's heart. Shopping Mall Even if not shopping, stop in for a coffee at one of the delightful coffeee houses where the coffee mit kuchen just has to be sampled, and listen to the carillon of Meissen porcelain bells which, I hope, are still ringing out.  Built before the First World War it has glass ceilings, marble floors and walls, a cellar hall with wooden panelling, painted arches and elaborate light fittings.  It attracts an artistic Bohemian clientele partly because of the coffee shops, oyster and champagne bars, and live piano music. Leipzig's Central Station is one of the most modern shopping centres in Germany and several well-known department stores can be found here.

Fresh food markets where agricultural produce from the region is sold by farmers and traders are popular with both locals and visitors. There is a market near Leipzig Central Stadium on Saturdays, and on the first weekend of the month, an antique and flea market is held on Saturdays at the Central Station, and on Sundays in the grounds of Leipzig's Old Exhibition Centre (Hall 13).

A Very Ornate Bank in Leipzig
A Very Ornate Bank in Leipzig
Mari Nicholson
Second Oldest Coffee House in Europe
Second Oldest Coffee House in Europe
Mari Nicholson

Leipzig - a Compact City

Leipzig is a compact city

One of the easiest towns to stroll around, Leipzig is extremely compact.  Its major attractions are easy to access and walking without a map opens up some stunning vistas as you come across charming squares linws with beautiful buildings.

 Johann Sebastien Bach And everywhere, you will find a statue to a famous musician who once resided in this beautiful cultural city.

Updated: 08/13/2013, Maritravel
 
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Maritravel on 08/14/2013

If it's music you're after, then Leipzig is sure to satisfy.

jptanabe on 08/14/2013

Nice introduction to Leipzig - I'd love to visit, with my daughter who's the music expert!

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