Do you already know Johann Sebastian Bach and his life? And don't you know which the ninth of the Bach towns or the ninth of the Bach towns should be? Good ...! Good that I did not mention 33, because so many communities, towns and cities can even be connected - in the broadest sense - with Johann Sebastian Bach. Not directly. Or do they?
The ninth, that's what you wanted to know? Because of you number as follows: First Eisenach (1), then Ohrdruf (2), then Lüneburg (3), then we let Weimar fall under the table for the first time, there it was too short and Weimar "comes again later". So we continue with Arnstadt (4), then Mühlhausen (5), now he marries in the tiny Dornheim near Arnstadt (6), then moves to Köthen (7) and finally spends 27 years in the Saxon music metropolis Leipzig (8).
The first of the Bach towns, the one with the Wartburg, the landmark high above the town, is also one of the most impressive: Eisenach. Johann Sebastian Bach was born in the town of Eisenach. He lived here with his parents for almost 10 years, until at the age of nine his mother died, followed a year later by his uncle and his father.
For most people, Johann Sebastian Bach is the composer par excellence. This is Bach especially for musicians, amateurs and professionals. For about 300 years. For a few others, however, the whole Bach family of musicians is exciting. And then another Bach town plays a huge role: It is Wechmar, the neighboring community of the Bach town of Gotha. This is where the history of the Bache, as it was called then, begins. And that makes Wechmar number 9 since Veit Bach was the first musician in the family. A document mentions his death in 1619. He played a cythringen, an early form of trembling to the beat of the mill in Wechmar. With him, the Bach family becomes the Bach family of musicians.
The Saint Viti Church in the Bach place of Wechmar: Here, Bach fans find the roots of the most famous family of musicians on the planet.
The St. Viti church in the first of the important Bach villages in Thuringia. The Bach biographers agree on this, again for over 250 years. Vitus Bach is named after the patron saint of this church, Viti means Vitus. Johann Sebastian Bach is a great-great grandson and himself mentions his great-great-grandfather in a list compiled by him personally in 1735, the "Origin of the musical-Bachian Family". This Wechmar, one of the two smaller but nevertheless important Bach places, offers four sights with the theme Johann Sebastian Bach: The aforementioned St. Viti Church, the Bach headquarters, the Veit Bach Mill and the lovingly restored schoolhouse where a Bach taught the family. And today a Bach lives there, even a Bach from this family of musicians. The Bach village of Wechmar is definitely worth a visit. Especially if you have Arnstadt as your destination when it comes to Bach.
The Veit Bach Mill in one of the smallest Bach places. In Wechmar the Bach family became the Bach family of musicians. Veit Bach was the name of the ancestor of the family of musicians and Johann Sebastian Bach was his Great-great-grandson.
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Back to the Bach city of all Bach cities, Eisenach. Here, Johann Sebastian Bach was born ... however, not in the Bachhaus. That is what they thought for two centuries. Today they know better. The birth happened a few houses closer to the middle of the city. The notice board at the Bachhaus now became history itself.
The lovely Ohrdruf is the next station in the row of Bach cities. Here is the highest density of Bach monuments per thousand residents: namely two.
Ohrdruf is also located in Thuringia and is the closest community to Wechmar. And that means what now? That Ohrdruf, Wechmar and the Bach town of Gotha are best visited "as a trilogy". Johann Sebastian moved - after the death of his parents - with his older brother to his eldest brother in Ohrdruf. Of course, this eldest brother was also a musician. All Bachs of this so-called Ohrdruf line later were cantors at the main church of the city: for over 100 years uninterruptedly.
The Bach city of Ohrdruf shows up with two Bach monuments. This monument quotes Ludwig van Beethoven, who meant about Bach: "He should not be called Bach, but Meer". To understand this, it's necessary to know, that Bach is a creek in English and "Meer" is the sea.
In Ohrdruf Johann Sebastian Bach became much better in his school performance. However, this was simply due to the fact that he did not, as in Eisenach, play with his father at parties, weddings, and funerals in order to earn the daily money for a large family.
The Palace Ehrenstein in the second of the bigger Bach cities, Ohrdruf. A short time after my husband took many, many photos, a violent fire raged, with catastrophic consequences.
The third of the bigger Bach cities: Lüneburg. You see the city hall in the picture. Johann Sebastian and his school friend Georg Erdmann hiked to this city.
Johann Sebastian Bach and his school friend Georg Erdmann studied at the Michaelis School. After their graduation they went back to the south, to Thuringia. Both completed their time in Lüneburg with flying colours and Johann Sebastian could have studied at a university, for example in Leipzig. But if he did not want ... Bach finally wanted to make music and earn his money with it. It is not known where Bach spent the first six months after his return from Lüneburg. It is suspected that he stayed with his sister in Erfurt or again with his eldest brother in Ohrdruf.
Let's leave aside the first episode of Weimar - it was not particularly exciting for him either in its duration or with what Bach did there - then Arnstadt is the next big station in the master's life. In Arnstadt Bach is still young. Almost still a teenager. But there are problems in Arnstadt. Three really big problems. First there is his vacation. He applies for four weeks vacation, provides of course for a deputy - also a brook from the family - and comes back however only after 12 weeks again. Problem 1.
Johann Sebastian Bach is also choirmaster. And first of all, making music with the choir students is fun for everyone. But Johann Sebastian Bach is a perfectionist. And some of the students don't want to be able to sing so well. They disturb, at first unconsciously, but then even wantonly. Bach calls the pupil Geyersbach a "Zippelfagottist", at that time not a nice nickname, but a real insult. One night, when Bach was on his way home, he asked the cantor to apologize. Together with five friends, all armed with clubs, Bach has no choice but to draw the sword, which was part of the court costume at the time. For the lads it is too dangerous after all ... and they pile up. Bach complains to the city council. But he doesn't agree with him, because the six young people belonged to the respected families of Arnstadt, the city of Bach. That was problem 2.
Finally there is the incident in one of the churches in Arnstadt: Bach lets a foreign maid sing on the gallery in the church. At that time a monstrosity. This also arouses the displeasure of council and population: problem number 3.
The Bach Kirche, which is the Bach Church. In the era of Johann Sebastian Bach it was the Neue Kirche, which is the New Church. Of course – later – they renamed her after Johann Sebastian Bach.
The town hall in our favourite of the seven Bach towns ... namely Arnstadt. This is the point of view from Johann Sebastian Bach's point of view, so to speak: exactly the way he sees the town hall, leans against the pedestal of his monument, actually more flies around in front of it. And you wonder why there are now seven Bach towns and not nine. That is simply because both Dornheim and Wechmar are Bach towns, not Bach towns. And Bach villages somehow don't sound beautiful enough. By the way, this is exactly the monument of this paragraph you come to easily. And to all other Bach monuments, too. Just click on the button here.
When Johann Sebastian Bach was no longer in the mood in Arnstadt, precisely because he was constantly being nagged – as he felt – without justification, people in Mühlhausen already knew about this situation. And so Bach was offered the position of cantor without further ado. It is exciting that both in Arnstadt and in Mühlhausen Bach not only received more salary than he had before, but also more salary than the musician who held this position before.
However, the Council of Mühlhausen almost did not sign the contract with Johann Sebastian Bach. Between the negotiation with the cantor of Arnstadt and the beginning of his activity in Mühlhausen, there was a fire of apocalyptic proportions in Mühlhausen: 400 houses burned down, many of them with stables. But in the end the council signed ... otherwise Mühlhausen would not be one of the Bach towns today. However, the cost of living rose so dramatically due to the fire that this was one of the reasons why Bach was able to continue after a short time.
The "chocolate view" of Mühlhausen, certainly the Bach town of Bach towns with the most churches and towers. "Mulhusia ... the city of towers and gates" ... this is the name of the city in western Thuringia. Few people suspect that Mühlhausen is also a Hanseatic city. Johann Sebastian Bach only stayed here for about a year until he moved on ... to the court in Weimar.
One of even two huge church buildings in Mühlhausen. Johann Sebastian Bach got married during the Mühlhausen period. Three Bach towns with imposing churches offered themselves for this event. But Johann Sebastian chose the romantic variant. He married in one of the small Bach towns, Dornheim, less than two minutes by car – today – from Arnstadt, in a small, tiny, friendly church. Today this is the so-called wedding church.
Actually more romantic and also clearer: the village church in one of the two small brook villages in Thuringia. Here a friend trusted Johann Sebastian Bach and his Maria Barbara Bach, née Bach.
Actually it started quite well ... in the next of the Bach towns in Thuringia, in Weimar. Bach became a musician at court, played and composed. One child after another was born there. However, not all of seven survived. Jump in time. After about eight years he is finally promoted to Kapellmeister. But Johann Sebastian Bach actually wants to climb the career ladder even faster and further. But a worse musician is preferred: even then there was nepotism. Bach doesn't see that, complains, isn't listened to, wants to leave the farm, but needs Duke Wihelm Ernst's Okay. But he doesn't let himself be spoken. Bach, however, had already signed the contract with Prince Leopold of Saxony-Anhalt in Köthen. Bach complained - in the wording inappropriately - and Duke Wilhelm Ernst had Bach imprisoned for a whole 4 weeks. This, too, is a way to go down in history: Without the duke's decision, very few people would know his name today. During this Weimar period, Bach also won the probably most memorable music competition of mankind in Dresden ... which is why Dresden is also one of the Bach cities.
The gentleman on the left is not Bach and the gentleman on the right is not either. Who you see here are the friends Goethe and Schiller. By the way, Weimar is the only Bach town that has neither a Bach Museum nor a Bach House. Hopefully only "not yet". And perhaps one day one will no longer have to look for the greatest composer and composer of music of mankind - more precisely: his monument.
The city castle in the only one of the Bach towns without a Bach museum. The city palace stands right next to the Bach monument. Pi times thumb. And better ... the memorial for Johann Sebastian Bach is very close to the city castle. Whatever: Weimar is worth it. Very much. Absolutely.
Köthen was the paradise for Johann Sebastian Bach. If one had already used the term "Bach cities" at that time, it would certainly have been the "Bach city of Bach cities" for him. It is crystal clear that he thought so. We also know what he thought of the other Bach cities, especially Leipzig, from contemporary documents. Prince Leopold himself was a musician, in Köthen there was a superb music band with real professional musicians and Bach and the prince soon became good friends.
But one day, when he returned with Prince Leopold from a trip "to the Karlsbade", his Maria Barbara had died unexpectedly and of course she had already been buried. Bach did not remarry until 18 months later. And then had 13 more children with his second wife Anna Magdalena. However, the prince's wife - who married at about the same time - had no sense at all for any kind of music. And so the prince also distanced himself from this hobby. In addition, the money became scarce and Johann Sebastian Bach wanted an optimal education for his children. And they didn't exist in Köthen, but they did exist in Leipzig.
It could not have been because of impressive buildings that Johann Sebastian finally left the penultimate of the Bach towns on his life's journey. Even after 18 months, every square metre reminded him of his first wife.
And on a side note: Köthen is not only one of the exciting Bach towns and one of the Bach towns outside Thuringia, but also a bright joy for every photographer.
The 2022 Picasso Bach Music Calendar on the left side and the youngest "Attraction" in our publishing house is the little Bach figure which comes with two free Bach gifts. To the shop.
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This is how Johann Sebastian Bach was: according to his contract of employment in Leipzig, he should not compose pieces of music that were too long. But ... long is relative, Bach said, and so he created the St. Matthew Passion - a miracle - with a length of round three hours. In the first epoch in Leipzig Bach was so depressed by life and his job at the Thomas School that he wrote the famous letter to his school friend Georg Erdmann. By the way, the wording is available here in four variants. Even the start in Leipzig was a catastrophe: for months the Leipzig Council took its time to answer Bach's application. The position had already been advertised three times before and several musicians did not want to take up the position at all. And so the people of Leipzig, or more precisely the city council of Leipzig at that time, began, because the cooperation - after all, 27 years - was based on the statement that if they could not engage a first-class musician for this position, then one of the third row would also be okay. The ... about Bach. With a principal of the Thomas School named Gesner, however, everything became better in Leipzig later. Unfortunately only for a short four years. Then the quarrel between Bach, the city council, the headmasters of the Thomas Schule and the university started again. Everyone against everyone ... and with changing alliances, so to speak.
The prefect dispute is one of the worst lows in Bach's life. Read more about it here. The award of the title "Royal Polish and Electoral Saxon Court Composer" was one of the highlights in Bach's life. And finally, a meeting with one of the most important kings of all is the highlight in the life of Johann Sebastian Bach:
In Potsdam and Berlin Bach plays on the instruments of the King of Prussia, King Frederick II. He improvises masterfully and later composes the Musicalisches Opfer (Musical Sacrifice) for the King, which he even dedicates to him. Frederick II does not even thank him, nor does he pay Bach, and so this highlight in Bach's life has a lasting taste.
The most impressive of all Bach cities: Leipzig. Johann Sebastian worked and lived here for 27 years. Above you can see the town hall of the city at the Pleiße.
The Thomas Church. The church par excellence in the life of Johann Sebastian Bach. Here he was Thomaskantor. Here he experienced the highest heights and deepest depressions in his life. Undoubtedly Leipzig is the last of the important Bach cities ... but you will be surprised how many other cities are also Bach towns. Which then however ... only in the broadest sense.
First of all, you could declare 50 Bach towns and places. But for us the exaggeration starts with number 34. Bach cities - in the broadest sense - in Thuringia and Germany are not only the cities in which Johann Sebastian Bach lived and worked, but also communities and metropolises in which he only worked ... but did not live. And where do you want to stop counting, allow them or exclude them?
Well, that's quite possible. If a place no longer exists today and only had 123 inhabitants in Bach's day, then he will leave, if it is not certain whether he also played there. Moreover, a city is not one of the Bach cities if Bach has only been there once, but has not played a minimum of music there.
But there are also - especially in Thuringia - cities that are important for the Bach family of musicians simply because of their importance. They are, so to speak, Bach towns or "Bach places of a different kind", as it were. Wechmar is such a small but important Bach town. Erfurt has enormous significance. There are no fewer than 60 entries in the church records for the various brooks - as they were then called. Gotha is a brook town, Dresden of course also. Berlin and Potsdam are also Bach cities. Lübeck is absolutely one of the most important Bach cities, because here Bach almost didn't marry his Maria Barbara Bach (... how such a thing works, read for example in the biography about Bach for children with Vitus and Balthazar ... or also in "Bach über Bach"). Weissenfels has to be on this list, because Bach was in charge of the court chapel of the regent there.
Hamburg, Karlsbad and Kassel are also Bach cities. Andisleben, on the other hand, is extremely borderline. But not for the very branch of the famous family of musicians who emigrated to the USA. For him, Andisleben is one of the most important Bach cities of all. Keyword: Bach genealogy. Even if Andisleben is more of a Bach town than a Bach town.
The northernmost of the Bach towns: Lübeck. Johann Sebastian Bach also hiked here on foot. Another 100 kilometres further than from Ohrdruf to Lüneburg. Who wanted to deny Lübeck the affiliation to the Bach towns "of the second row"?
Erfurt ... one of the particularly impressive Bach towns. We would like to take this opportunity to remind you of Bach researcher Helga Brück: "Through her we have taken a decisive step forward in our own genealogy. Unfortunately, she died far too early and completely unexpectedly in 2013. A small video, in which we had a lot of fun together with her and her daughter, reminds us of the Bach researcher and Bach author. You can watch the video at the bottom of this page. There are also many other super-short and cute videos if you want to see more about the Bach cities in the meantime. All are accompanied by Bach's music and modern music and all are spoken by professionals.
Gotha, here the town hall, is a dream of Bachstadt. And Wechmar, the neighbouring town, is there together with Gotha in a double pack. Book an overnight stay in one of the Bach towns and experience one of the important Bach towns, Wechmar. In 10 minutes you are there from Gotha. From city centre to village centre, of course. Both Bach locations are worthwhile. My warmest recommendation.
Let us once let Bach towns be Bach towns, we mean ... with the ranking. Dresden was - by far - the city that impressed us the most on our photo excursions. There are architectural treasures in three rows one behind the other. There you don't know whether to look to the right first or to the left. Once you're there, you understand that Dresden was able to match the splendour of Versailles. Not with its meaning. But with the splendour. And this - in contrast to Versailles - in the middle of a city. What still holds you? Off with you to Dresden. You remember? In Dresden Bach won the memorable music competition with the Frenchman Louis Marchand. That alone makes Dresden a Bach city.
But he didn't play in the Reichstag ... our Johann Sebastian. But in Berlin, with the King of Prussia, with the "Old Fritz". Of course Berlin is one of the Bach cities. And Bach also ordered musical instruments there and picked them up later.
Hamburg almost, almost became one of the "real" Bach cities. But Johann Sebastian would have had to pay for a top job here. They bought into such a position back then. It would certainly have been worth the time. But that was in the time shortly after Maria Barbara's death and with the concern to be able to feed his children and without a wife Johann Sebastian Bach did not want to take this risk.
Weißenfels is one of the smaller Bach towns in which Johann Sebastian Bach advised the music band of the regent there.
Gräfenroda is mentioned in the book of one of the first Bach biographers. Is that enough to be included in the circle of Bach towns and places? Or is there much more behind our reference? Johann Sebastian, in any case, had also been here, ... but in this case that wouldn't be reason enough.
Andisleben, one of the less important brook places. But not for our American Bachs: for them Andisleben is the lynchpin of their connection to the composer, it was their hub - as they say today in New German - into the New World, America.
The 20th of the Bach towns or Bach Places: In Potsdam Johann Sebastian Bach had by far his most important musical appearance before King Frederick II of Prussia.
On our own behalf: The "worst case scenario" for a photographer with body and soul is when he heads for a destination, when a part of one of the highlights worth photographing is scaffolded there. For example, the right rear pillar of the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the left side of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. In Potsdam, that wasn't the case with one building, all the exciting buildings were - without exception - scaffolded or provided with a construction fence and actually ... unphotographable. Today it is June 2019 and probably all construction sites have gone: I am planning a next trip to Potsdam and I am sure, it's a dream today.
The only thing was: That was the challenge for my husband. If you want to see what was going on for him anyway, if you "use" branches and railings to hide something ugly behind them, then click here to more, actually ... to all motives in Potsdam, ... Dozens.
Once this restoration is completed in the future, Potsdam will be a dream come true for every photographer. Then it's worth more than just a trip. And we will come back and take even better and many more pictures. From this dream city ... of this 20th of the Bach cities.
Potsdam is supposed to be the last motif in the series of Bach cities and Bach places. You can find more here, with one click of course. Namely the number 21 to 33. And at a completely different place of the Bach portal "Bach über Bach" you will find portraits of the most exciting Bach towns and Bach places with pictures, film, music and spoken text. Clearly by professionals, and the music of Bach, but not only. Videos about Bach cities and Bach places.
Only one of the Bach calendars is suitable for this page and the topic: namely the Bach memorials with the 12 known and really really unknown Bach memorials. In the shop, you can view all 1,188 monthly pages of each of the Bach calendars, but also of each of the 33 music calendars and composer calendars. And this is how it works: Select the corresponding calendar category in the shop, then click on the picture of the calendar you like and finally it's just a little scrolling: At the bottom of the page they are all: the monthly pages of the 99 music calendars. To the shop.
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