The sound of music resonates through the streets of Leipzig - the city has long been home for some of Germany’s most influential musicians and composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and Felix Mendelssohn. Here are the best sights, museums, and festivals that make Leipzig's musical history come alive.
For 800 years, St. Thomas Church has been the setting for some of Leipzig’s most famous composers, first and foremost Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach worked here as a cantor for 27 years, and today, his remains are buried below the altar. Since 1212, St. Thomas Church has also been home to the famous St. Thomas Boys Choir; don’t miss one of their weekly concerts in the church (September-June, every Friday at 6 p.m., and Saturday at 3 p.m.). In July and August, there are free open-air concerts around the Bach statue in front of St. Thomas Church (Monday, 7 p.m.).
Right next to St. Thomas Church is the newly extended Bach Museum, where an interactive multi-media exhibition explores the life and work of the famous composer and his family. Music enthusiasts can try to date one of the composer's manuscripts or even arrange the instrumental parts of a Bach hymn. Highlight of the museum is the “Treasure Chamber”, where Bach’s handwritten cantata manuscripts are displayed. Throughout the museum you’ll find listening stations, where you can enjoy every composition Bach has ever created.
Every June, Leipzig celebrates Johann Sebastian Bach with the annual Bach Music Festival; renowned artists from all over the world perform Bach's classical masterpieces in historical venues. A must for Bach fans.
The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra is one of the oldest symphony orchestras in the world, tracing back to 1743. The orchestra first played in the former cloth-makers guild house (hence the name, Gewand means “cloth"); the new Gewandhaus orchestra hall was opened in 1981 and has fantastic acoustics. Musical directors such as Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Arthur Nikisch, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Kurt Masur and Herbert Blomstedt made the orchestra world famous, and you shouldn’t miss one of the 70 Grand Concerts they perform every season.
The Mendelssohn House is the only museum in the world dedicated to the composer and conductor Felix Mendelssohn; a few steps away from Leipzig’s Gewandhaus (where Mendelssohn worked as a conductor), you can visit the reconstructed home, where the musician lived with his family from 1835 until his death in 1847. And just like in the days of Mendelssohn, classical concerts are held in the music salon every Sunday (11 a.m.).
After getting married in 1840, the celebrated pianist Clara Schumann and her husband Robert, a still unknown composer back then, found their first home in Leipzig’s Inselstrasse (and it was here that Robert Schumann created the Spring Symphony, which made him famous). Today, the reconstructed historical rooms house an exhibition on the life and work of the famous couple; the music salon, where the Schumanns entertained friends (among them Hans Christian Andersen, Franz List, and Felix Mendelssohn), is now a venue for concerts and readings.
A few steps away from the Gewandhaus you’ll find Leipzig’s Museum of Musical Instruments. The museum is home to 5000 precious pieces, presenting a musical collection from the Middle Ages to today. Its permanent exhibition “In Search of the Perfect Sound” explores different eras of music history and instrument making; music from previous centuries comes alive with the help of a special 3-D sound system, and visitors of all ages can make their own music in the hands-on Sound Laboratory.