Johann Sebastian Bach in Leipzig

The composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) spent 27 years in Leipzig as cantor at St. Thomas’s School and as the city’s Director of Music. Here some children are playing their instruments at the foot of his statue. The building behind him is St. Thomas’s Church.

Johann Sebastian Bach

This bust of Bach is in another Leipzig church, the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church), where he often played the organ and directed the choir.

Bach composed great quantities of church music in Leipzig, including the Magnificat and the St. John and St. Matthew Passions.

Thirteen of Bach’s twenty children were born in Leipzig.

St. Nicholas Church (Nikolaikirche)

The St. Nicolas Church was founded in about 1165. It has been a Protestant church since 1539.

Throughout the 1980s, weekly prayers for peace were held in the St. Nicholas Church on Monday evenings, and these gradually developed into the Monday demonstrations against the GDR regime. In October 1989 these demonstrations attracted over 100,000 people and started spreading to other East Germany cities, leading to the fall of the GDR and the reunification of Germany.

Swords into ploughshares

In the St. Nicholas Church, you can still see one of the original hand-drawn “Swords into ploughshares” posters announcing the Monday peace prayers.

The slogan is from the Bible, Old Testament, Isaiah 2:4:
They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

My photos in this post are from 2005 and 2009. I revised the text in 2020.

See also: From Bach to Egk in Eisenach, Germany,
and Music in Groningen, the Netherlands, where I once attended a performance of Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion on Good Friday.

8 thoughts on “Johann Sebastian Bach in Leipzig”

  1. So many of his children died at age 3. No wonder they had so many children in those days. It was hard to to have a family that survived childhood. I do remember his last child, a daughter whose name escapes me, died in poverty. Beethoven supposedly tried to assist her with proceeds from his 3rd symphony . . . with the great horn parts. Having a famous father didn’t seem to help her.

  2. I grew up playing JS Bach on the piano and violin. His works have been a huge part of my childhood, and it’s fair that I ought to visit Leipzig, his hometown, as an homage. Thanks for sharing this post!

  3. My big regret is that while in the US Army and stationed in then-West Germany from 1970-1972, I was there for Beethoven’s 200th birthday Anniversary but was unable to visit Leipzig for a Bach pilgrimage.

    1. That sounds like a good way to start a Sunday morning.
      After posting this, I realized that Bach and Händel were both born in the same year (1685) and only 130 km apart: Bach in Eisenach and Händel in Halle. I’ve been to both their birth houses (now museums) but somehow never made the connection.

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