Leipzig, mid-November. It is cold, it even snows. A Christmas spirit and a Glühwein smell are already floating in the air since the Christmas market’s wood chalets are being installed. I first think it is too early to prepare for Christmas, but I enjoy finding out about the advent tradition, typical decorations and delicacies in the stores. Most importantly, I am in Leipzig for the official launch of Heritage Times, which took place on 10 November during Denkmal 2016, leading European Trade Fair for Heritage. Still, I take a little time to discover the city’s history.
The remarkable history of Leipzig is still cherished and perpetrated nowadays. The city is notably known for initiating the Peaceful Revolution in 1989, for its trade fair and musical heritage. Since the 13th century, Leipzig had the privilege to accommodate a myriad of musical geniuses, whose compositions are transcending the newer generations. Robert and Clara Schumann, Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Bach, Wagner – only to mention the most prominent – all lived and composed in Leipzig at a stage in their lives.
The Leipzig Region is keen on keeping this heritage alive by organising many festivals and designed the Leipzig Music Trail. By foot or on a bicycle, one can visit the places where a significant contribution to the history of music was made. This innovative kind of tourism enables visitors and residents to explore the city in a playful way, hunting for a special melody and paying more attention to buildings, memorials, statues, and their significations. The trail goes through composers’ homes, historic squares, as well as concert venues where music is still being performed and composed, such as the Gewandhaus, St. Thomas Church, the Opera House, Bach Museum, Mendelssohn House, Schumann House. With the audio guide, one can listen to the relevant musical gems along the 5km trail.
Unable to properly follow the trail, I got to create my own while walking through the city. Without even aiming for it, the music came to me. I still wonder whether I followed it or it followed me. Or maybe I was unconsciously more aware of the music surrounding me.
I travelled in time while listening to a special piano concert in Schumann House. Alexander Meinal and his Blüthner (piano) performed compositions from Schumann and Chopin, succeeding to the artist couple formed by Robert and Clara Schumann. Nowadays, the building houses a museum dedicated to their history and artistic development, which also displays authentic belongings and pianos. Education represents a strong highlight. An artistic primary school is located on the first floor, together with a “sound room”, where visitors can invent melodies.
“The objects hanging from the ceiling are either from Schuman’s time or indicate technological inventions of the time. Every object, when you stand beneath it, causes tones, noises, or entire musical pieces to sound.” Erwin Stache, creator of the room.
St. Thomas Church
Stepping into St. Thomas Church, I was nicely welcomed by a sweet melody. A musician was giving an organ class to a few young people standing around him, creating an ideal setting to discover this place of worship, which has been enchanted by the St. Thomas Boys Choir for over 800 years. Johann Sebastian Bach was the choir director until his death and rests in the church ever since. A statue has been erected to pay tribute to his outstanding dedication to music and making Leipzig a key city in the history of music.
Article initially posted on Culturaal.