If you have been following my blog, you know that this morning I took a very early train from Hannover to Leipzig. My plan was to make it to Leipzig in time to arrive for a service at the Thomaskirche (Thomas Church) at 9:30 am. So, I put on the one outfit of “church clothes” I packed and headed out the door. . .
Aside from the fact that I still cannot seem to sleep in a moving vehicle, the trip was nice. The rail system in Germany is outstanding. I am amazed at the beauty of each Hauptbahnhof (a city’s central station).
I made it in time to check in to my motel and get to the church on time to meet Pastor Robert Moore who, along with his wife Kathy, is stationed in Leipzig as an ELCA 500 Representative. Part of his responsibilities include assisting people like myself and others who are making the trip to Wittenberg/Leipzig during this, the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the reformation. Robert and Kathy have been here for about six months and will ultimately be here for three years. They most recently lived in Houston where Robert was the Senior Pastor at Christ the King Lutheran Church.
The Thomaskirche is one of the churches at which J.S. Bach served during his time in Leipzig from 1723 until his death in 1750. As Cantor of the Thomasschule (the school attached to the church) he was responsible for providing music for 4 churches and for the musical education of the students in the school. This is the church where the St. Matthew’s Passion was premiered on Good Friday in 1727 (although there is some speculation it was actually 1729).
His choir consisted of students from the school, the treble parts being sung by young boys whose voices had yet to change. That tradition continues to this day and the Thomanerchor provided the music for the service I attended this morning. I felt it would have been disrespectful to take pictures during the service so I do not have photos of the choir from today, but a quick Google Image search included this photo:
This group was quite impressive. Perhaps most impressive was the sound achieved by the treble voices. It wasn’t pushed at all but was very rich and full. This was especially impressive given the amount and type of literature sung. Just in this one Friday morning church service they sang the following:
Jauchzet dem Herrn alle Welt – Felix Mendelssohn
Hodie Christus natus est – Francois Poulenc
Verbum caro factum est – Johann Hermann Schein
Wie Schön leuchtet der Morgenstern – Max Regehr
This was all sung from the front of the church (just behind them in the picture above). THEN, they moved to the balcony and performed Cantata #6 from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, complete with players from the Gewandhaus Orchestra.
All of that demanding literature, performed very well, and this was just one service on a Friday. I can’t imagine how much literature they learn in a year.
Here are more pictures I took after the service was completed:
After church I thanked Robert and Kathy and decided I needed to take a short nap! I then met up with Robert again later and had a great conversation, getting advice on how to make the Bethany Choir and Handbell tour in 2018 most successful.
I then went through the Bach museum, which is directly across the street from the church.
This is the famous portrait of Bach when he was 61 and near the end of his life. It is one of only two that exist.
Ever wonder what composers did for staff paper before the internet? This was what Bach used. He dipped it in ink and drew his own staves.
An organ console from St. John’s in Leipzig, one of the churches for which he was responsible for music. I put this picture in just for Melody Steed and Tyler Breneman 😉
These instruments are of Bach’s era and was owned by the church. I thought Lillian Green would like the instrument in the back!
I just really liked this account of Mozart visiting the church and school, albeit after Bach’s death.
Here is a manuscript in Bach’s handwriting taken from the St. Matthew’s Passion. So, here’s your challenge. . . from what part of the work is this taken? Leave your answers in the comments!
I took Daniel Rauchholz’s suggestion to dine at the Auerbachs-Keller, a restaurant only a few hundred yards from the Thomaskirche. You might recognize the Auerbachs-Keller name from your literature classes. Goethe himself spent time here in his youth and memorialized it in a scene titled, “Auerbach’s Cellar in Leipzig” from his work, Faust.
I had the pork roast with a mushroom sauce along with red cabbage and what I can only describe as some type of potato based side item. It was WONDERFUL!
I had an opportunity to attend a couple of different concerts tonight and probably show have done so. But I really hit a wall today after not adjusting my sleep schedule very well. So, I am back at the room to get some sleep tonight before taking off for Bratislava tomorrow. I am looking forward not only to finally meeting friends with whom I have been communicating the past many months, but also because I will be in the same bed for more than one night!
As a side note, I want to mention that I again got a room at a “Motel One” chan of motels and I am greatly impressed. I have traveled quite a bit and I am fully aware that for this price (about 72 USD) you do not typically get accommodations this nice. And it is the best WIFI of any hotel yet.
Until tomorrow, auf wiedersehen!