Route and stations of the Leipzig Music Ride (Leipziger Notenrad)
Due to its length - 40.0 km (24.9 miles) - the Leipzig Music Ride is designed to be undertaken by bike and is in planning process.
Old Bach Memorial
Woodcut around 1850, based on Eduard Bendemann
The Thomaskirche (St. Thomas’s Church) is the true gateway to Leipzig, the City of Music. In the year 1212, the establishment of the Augustinian Canons in Leipzig was simultaneously the birth of the Thomanerchor (St. Thomas's Boys Choir).
During the early centuries of the Choir's history, music in the Thomaskirche was restricted to the musical accompaniment of the liturgy in the Mass. The advent of the Reformation in Saxony in 1539, however, was to usher in a new era of sacred music. Music now came to be valued as an integral element of the annunciation in worship, requiring a considerably greater contribution from the Thomanerchor and demanding the composition of a substantial amount of new sacred music from the respective cantor. This was the dawn of the golden epoch of the Thomaskirche, its school and its choir.
Having assumed responsibility for the Thomasschule and Thomanerchor in 1543, the City Council succeeded in appointing a long succession of prominent composers to the office of Thomaskantor (Cantor of St. Thomas’s), the most eminent of all, of course, being Johann Sebastian Bach.
The so-called "Small" or "Old" Bach Memorial was the initiative of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. It was the first monument in the world in honour of Johann Sebastian Bach. Mendelssohn expressed his wish to instigate the construction of a monument to the former Thomaskantor in Leipzig in a letter in 1838:
"J.S. Bach was such a splendid fellow. We want to erect a small memorial to him here in front of the school."
In order to bring his plan to fruition, Mendelssohn organised three benefit concerts. On 6th August 1840, he himself gave a recital of Bach organ music in the Thomaskirche. Also in the Thomaskirche, on 4th April 1841, he conducted the first performance of the Matthäus-Passion (St. Matthew Passion) to be heard in Leipzig since its creator's death. The final concert took place in the Gewandhaus on 23rd April 1843, after which the monument near the Thomasschule was unveiled. Guest of honour at the inauguration celebrations was Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach, Johann Sebastian's 81-year-old grandson.
Site of second Gewandhaus – Mendelssohn-Waterside
Mendelssohn-waterside, photo: Werner Schneider
From the middle of the 19th century, the popularity of the Gewandhaus concerts, and with it, the demand for tickets, increased immensely. The capacity of the Gewandhaus (see Notenspur Station 21) was simply insufficient to cater for the demand, leading to the decision to erect a new, larger concert hall. The Neues Gewandhaus (New Gewandhaus) was inaugurated in December 1884, after two-and-a-half years' construction.
In contrast to the first Gewandhaus, the Neues Gewandhaus did not belong to the city, but to the Gewandhaus Concert Board itself. The main hall (Großer Saal) - highly praised for both its architecture and its acoustic - seated 1,500 concertgoers; the chamber music hall accommodated 500 people.
The Neues Gewandhaus played host to many of the world's most eminent musicians, such as Anton Bruckner, Igor Strawinsky und Yehudi Menuhin. The Gewandhauskapellmeister Arthur Nikisch, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Bruno Walter made their exceptional contributions to the evolution of the Orchestra here during their respective tenures. The hall was even to witness the likes of Johannes Brahms, Richard Strauss and Peter Tchaikovsky conducting performances of their own works.
In 1892, a memorial to Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy was unveiled in front of the Neues Gewandhaus. In 1936, however, the Nazi regime claimed this monument to a "full-blooded Jew" would provoke "public offence" and removed it. Three years earlier, immediately after coming to power, the regime imposed an occupational ban on Bruno Walter, forbidding him to conduct: he left Leipzig, never to return.
After suffering a direct hit in the bombing of February 1944, the Gewandhaus's interior burnt out entirely. Despite a long-running campaign for its reconstruction, the remaining shell was finally demolished in 1968.
As early as 1947, a new memorial to Mendelssohn, cast by Walter Arnold, was erected in front of the ruin of the Gewandhaus. The monument now stands only a few metres away from its original location, on the Mendelssohn-Ufer, the bank of the renewed Pleiße mill stream.
A scale model of the second Gewandhaus is on permanent exhibition in the current Gewandhaus (see Notenspur Station 1).
University of Music and Theatre "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy" - Max Reger
Hochschule für Musik und Theater (College of Music and Theatre)
Main Building, Grassistraße 8, Photo: Werner Schneider
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy founded the Leipziger Konservatorium (Leipzig Conservatoire) in 1843 - the first specialist music college in Germany. The Konservatorium was originally housed in a building in the courtyard of the first Gewandhaus (see Site of Old Conservatoire, Notenspur Station 20), before taking occupation of Hugo Licht's neoclassical edifice in the Grassistraße in 1887. The inauguration took place on 5th December of that year.
One of the most influential figures to contribute to the College's burgeoning renown was Max Reger, who, in addition to his post as Universitätsmusikdirektor (University Music Director), held a professorship for composition from 1907 until his death in 1916. Other luminaries to play a prominent role in shaping the institution's history since its move to the Grassistraße include the Thomaskantoren (cantors of St. Thomas’s) Günther Ramin and Kurt Thomas, and three Gewandhauskapellmeister, Carl Reinecke, Arthur Nikisch and Hermann Abendroth.
Eminent alumni of more recent times include the former Gewandhauskapellmeister Kurt Masur, Thomaskantor Georg Christoph Biller, Gewandhausorganist Michael Schönheit and the pianist Karl-Heinz Kämmerling.
Today, the Hochschule offers an extensive range of practically-orientated studies, encompassing musical genres from classical to jazz, pop to musical theatre, as well as drama. The student population numbers approximately 850 young people at any one time, who present their talent to the public in more than 600 events annually.
The construction of the College's modern concert hall (Großer Saal) was completed shortly before the end of the millenium. The design for the 430 seat hall was awarded a prize by the Saxony division of the Federation of German Architects in 2004.
In 2002, the Hochschule expanded its capacity to cater for the demands of the modern-day music industry beyond measure with the acquisition of substantial, superbly appointed premises on Dittrichring, near the Schauspielhaus (Playhouse) and the Thomaskirche.
The traditional bond between the Hochschule für Musik and the Gewandhaus, stretching back to the college's inception, has been intensified with the recent introduction of a Masters qualification in the form of an orchestra academy in conjunction with the Gewandhausorchester.
Internet: Hochschule für Musik und Theater (HMT)
Franz Schubert Column, Clara Zetkin Park
Photo: Werner Schneider
The "Prince of Song", Franz Schubert (1797-1828), never came to Leipzig himself - a rare exception among the most prominent composers of the 19th century. He did, however, invest great hope in the city as offering the best publishing houses to which he could entrust his work. Having printed one work shortly before Schubert's death, Breitkopf & Härtel (see Graphic Quarter - music publishers) subsequently published a complete edition of his entire output.
A further ten years were to pass until Schubert's music was first heard in the Old Gewandhaus (see Notenspur Station 21): Mendelssohn conducted the first performance of the C major symphony (The Great), the manuscript of which had been discovered by Robert Schumann in Schubert's estate.
In 1928, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Franz Schubert's death, the Leipziger Männerchor (Leipzig Male-Voice Choir) instigated the erection of a memorial to the composer. The City Council endorsed the choice of location in King Albert Park on the Anton-Bruckner-Allee (now Clara Zetkin Park), but declined to contribute financially to the undertaking. The monument was inaugurated in 1929, having been funded by donations from Leipzig citizens. The honorary committee for the memorial included Gewandhauskapellmeister Wilhelm Furtwängler and Thomaskantor Karl Straube.
The 3.8 metre (12.5 foot) high monument was designed by a Leipzig resident, the sculptor and painter, Margarete Tschaplowitz-Seifert (1889-1977). The slender column consists of three granite blocks, the cross section of which is an isosceles triangle. Following the example set in Stuttgart, this memorial was only the second to Schubert's memory to be erected in Germany. It is also one of the first monumental constructions in Leipzig to consistently integrate formal elements of modernism.
On the rear, under the engraving of a stylised five-stringed lyre, is the following inscription:
DEDICATED TO THE GENIUS, FRANZ SCHUBERT
ON THE INSTIGATION OF THE LEIPZIGER MÄNNERCHOR I. J. 1929
Richard Strauss Square
Memorial stone south of the music pavilion, photo: Elke Leinhoß
Richard Strauss, born on 11 June 1864 in Munich, is not only known as a composer of operas and tone poems but also as a conductor. He was repeatedly in Leipzig between 1887 and 1934 where he conducted the performance of his own works at the second Gewandhaus (cf. Music Trek Station 2), such as “Also sprach Zarathustra” in 1907.
The square near the music pavillion in the Clara Zetkin Park had been named after Strauss during his lifetime in 1925 – as a belated recognition of his 60th birthday in 1924, and a small memorial stone was put there. In 1926 an entire "Richard Strauss Week" was devoted to him at the opera and the Gewandhaus.
Six years later, under its music director Bruno Walter, the Gewandhaus orchestra premiered his suite "Schlagobers" (whipped cream) at the Gewandhaus. At the end of April 1934, Strauss conducted a Gewandhaus concert "for preliminary celebration of the master’s 70th birthday ". It was his fourth and last performance at the Gewandhaus conductor’s stand.
In 1949 he died in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Of the former manor's historical substance, the Schösserhaus (tax collector's house), the Tauchnitz Villa and the gateway have survived to this day. These objects are currently in the process of being restored as part of the renovation work on the three hectare site, which incorporates the construction of new housing, including several premium-grade villas.
On 30th August 1742, the former Schösserhaus hosted the festivities to celebrate the 36th birthday of the squire of the manor, Carl Heinrich von Dieskau. On this occasion, one of Johann Sebastian Bach's most well-known secular cantatas, the "Peasant Cantata" (Cantate Burlesque) received its first performance.
The cantata's text was written by Christian Friedrich Henrici (known as Picander) and incorporates many gems of Saxon dialect. In ironic, bawdy manner, a peasant and a maid jeer at the machinations of the tax collector Schösser and the violation of their right to fish. They then sing of the squire and his gracious wife. Whilst the maid, Mieke, and the peasant banter with each other like a pair of lovers, they should actually be busy preparing the evening's banquet - time is running out...
In character with the text, Bach composed unostentatious music for the cantata, consisting of short movements with predominantly simple accompaniment. The music also incorporates folk melodies and popular dance forms of the age.
The premiere of this commission in Rittergut Kleinzschocher took place under the personal direction of Bach himself.
Museum of the Printing Arts
Steel punch and music engraving plate, photo: Museum of the Printing Arts Leipzig
Under the heading ”Between Technology and Art“, the museum offers insight into roughly 500 years of historical casting, typesetting and typography. The museum, located at
Nonnenstraße 38 in the former industrial quarter of Plagwitz, has an approximately 100-year tradition as a printshop. Today the house unites a working printshop with a museum
where the visitors can experience printing history with all their senses.
Approximately 100 working machines and presses belong to the collection. The museum also houses a bookbindery, a workshop for wood engraving and Germany’s second largest collection of lead and wood letters and matrices.
In a separate presentation, the museum also shows the historical techniques of music printing. The high standards of legibility and the combined aesthetic of the print image of musical notes led to a variety of different typographical solutions throughout the centuries. It was imperative to harmonize efficiency in production with the ever-increasing demand for music literature.
The exhibition introduces the most important stages in the typesetting and the typography of music notations with the help of historical exhibits: the movable type music printing system developed by the Leipzig music publisher J. G. I. Breitkopf (relief printing) in 1755 , music engraving, which flourished in Leipzig (intaglio), and music printing based on lithography
(planographic printing). Further development throughout the 20th century up to and including computer music engraving is explained.
Visitors can also print sheet music set in lead type at a 1878 platen press themselves. The techniques of the almost lost craft of music engraving come alive in a film. In particular, Leipzig, the music city with its important music publishers, played a big role in the developing processes of music engraving and printing at that time. Thus the exhibition offers insights into the historical background in addition to an introduction into the techniques.
Musikalische Komödie (Musical Comedy)
Musical Comedy, photo: Dirk Brzoska
The place where the Musikalische Komödie is located today can look back on roughly 300 years of history as a cultural site. The existence of a guest house, later called ”Drei Linden“ (Three Limetrees) can be traced back to 1713, in which Napoleon is said to have found accommodation after the Battle of the Nations in 1813. It was a popular restaurant destination where summer theatre beginning from the mid-19th century and farces, fairy tales and operettas were staged.
Today’s complex of buildings, which includes theatre and adjoining residential buildings according to plans by the architect Otto Gerstenberger was a much admired building at its inauguration in 1912. A particular stir was caused by the cantilevered, vaulted and pre-stressed concrete ceiling of the hall with its numerous coffering elements. Today it is a listed building.
In 1918 a variety theatre was opened here. From 1944 to 1960 the house served as an interim venue for the opera house at Augustusplatz which had been destroyed in the Second World War. Afterwards, the operetta ensemble, that had existed since 1902 in Leipzig, moved into the house ”Drei Linden“, which received the name ”Kleines Haus“ in order to distinguish it from the newly built opera house in the city centre. In 1968 the name of the theatre was changed to Musikalische Komödie according to the newly developing musical profile. A special ensemble of soloists, choir, ballet and orchestra took shape with the genres of operetta, spieloper and increasingly the musical included in its repertoire. This ensemble equally mastered interpretation and presentation of classical operettas by Strauß or Lehár, as well as plays of the international musical repertoire or works of the cheerful spieloper. This includes first and foremost operas by Albert Lortzing. He worked in Leipzig as a singer, conductor and composer and wrote many of his most important works here. “Zar und Zimmermann” (Tsar and Carpenter) and “Der Wildschütz” (The Poacher) saw their debut performance in Leipzig, among other works (see Music Trip Station 2 – Old Theatre).
Attending to the work by Lortzing is one of the core concerns of the Musikalische Komödie.
Richard Wagner Grove
Detail of the fragmentary Wagner Memorial by Emil Hipp, photo: Thomas Krakow
The Leipzig-born composer did not grow up in the most straightforward of family situations, but was, however, always fully aware of his own extraordinary gifts, seeking admiration and the attainment of artistic predominance his whole life. This led to numerous conflicts, even during his adolescence at the Nikolaischule (St. Nikolai's School) and the Thomasschule (St. Thomas’s School) (see Notenspur Station 11). Later on, he was to cause friction between himself and the circle devoted to the barely older Mendelssohn and Schumann.
Wagner was only able to realise his exceptional musical potential and bring his radical ideas for the "comprehensive artwork" opera to fruition ("The Artwork of the Future", 1849) beyond Leipzig's boundaries. Not until 1878 - five years before his death - by virtue of the first performance of the Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) outside Bayreuth, did Wagner achieve the recognition in the city of his birth for which he yearned.
Immediately following his death in 1883, a committee was formed to organise the construction of a memorial to Wagner in Leipzig. Years of assessment of designs by various artists followed, until eventually, in 1904, the Leipzig sculptor and painter Max Klinger (1857-1920) was awarded the commission. Klinger was, of course, predestined for this task, having earned recognition for works on musical subjects on several previous occasions, for instance for his Brahmsphantasie cycle in 1894 and, especially, for his famous sculpture of Beethoven in 1902 (both on view in the Museum of Fine Arts, see Notenspur Station 14). He had also recently completed a bust of Wagner for the "Leipzig Music Room" at the 1904 World Exhibition in St. Louis. However, the protracted search for a convincing, suitably imposing artistic solution to the assignment, the outbreak of the First World War and insufficient funds led to the postponement of the project's execution. Max Klinger's death in 1920 finally put paid to efforts to bring the scheme to a conclusion.
The only element of Klinger's conception to be partially realised was the marble pedestal ((2m x 2m x 2.9m) (6.5ft x 6.5ft x 9.5ft)) decorated with characters from Wagner's operas; this was to form the base for a 5.3m (17.4ft) high statue of the composer. The pedestal has been situated in the so-called Klingerhain (Klinger Grove) on the banks of the Elster flood basin since 1924, but will be transferred to its originally planned site at the Promenadenring, where the foundation stone for the Wagner memorial was laid in 1913, the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth.
Endeavours to create a Wagner memorial site in Leipzig started afresh towards the end of the 1920s. A spot close to the Klingerhain on the Elster was deemed appropriate and thereafter became known as the Richard-Wagner-Hain. In 1932, the Mayor of Leipzig, Carl Goerdeler, initiated a competition for the design of a Wagner memorial which was won by Emil Hipp (1893-1965). In accordance with the inclination of the time, Hipp planned to construct a monument with an enormous 10m x 3m (32.8ft x 9.8ft) frieze as its centrepiece.
Since Wagner's artistic tendencies and antisemitism were not without affinity to the National Socialist ideology, the Nazi regime readily adopted the idea of a monument in the city of the composer's birth. Adolf Hitler himself laid the foundation stone for the Richard-Wagner-Nationaldenkmal (Richard Wagner National Memorial) in the Wagner-Hain (Wagner Grove) in 1934. This was reason enough for the Leipzig City Council's decision at the end of 1945 not to erect the remainder of the monument, for which it had long since paid. Hipp's work was later sold off in blocks to several different collectors.
The 200th anniversary of Richard Wagner was marked with a new and this time a successful attempt to raise a Wagner-Monument in Leipzig. The new monument by Stephan Balkenhol was inaugurated at the Promenadenring on the 22nd of May 2013 (see Notenbogenstation 15 )
Photo: Werner Schneider
On the invitation of the writer and lawyer, Christian Gottfried Körner, the 25-year-old Friedrich Schiller (already famous throughout Germany for his play Die Räuber (The Robbers)) spent the summer of 1785 in this house near Leipzig. The so-called Schillerhaus is the oldest surviving literary memorial site in Germany.
During his stay in the village of Gohlis (now a residential neighbourhood of Leipzig), Schiller began writing the lyrical verse An die Freude (Ode to Joy). Even before the ode came to be published, numerous transcriptions had been propagated. Ludwig van Beethoven was, famously, to be accompanied by the poem his whole adult life. He saw to its immortality by incorporating the complete text into the final movement of his ninth symphony in D minor (The Choral) - a work universally recognised as one of the highlights of the entire symphonic repertoire.
Beethoven's melody to An die Freude is familiar to this day. The conductor Herbert von Karajan's instrumental arrangement of Beethoven's music became the official anthem of the European Union in 1985, being played on festive occasions ever since. The ode describes a community of equal human beings, bonded by joy and friendship.
The free New Year's Eve concert given by the Gewandhausorchester (Gewandhaus Orchestra) under Arthur Nikisch for the Labourers' Education Institute in 1918 instigated the tradition of annual performances of Beethoven's ninth symphony at the turn of the year.
The autograph score of the symphony was accepted into the UNESCO World Documentary Heritage's Memory of the World Register in 2001.
Ode An die Freude / Finale of Beethoven's 9th Symphony
Text: Friedrich Schiller
Freunde, nicht dieser Töne!
Sondern lasst uns angenehmere
anstimmen, und freudenvollere!
Freude, Schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuer-trunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder,
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.
Photo: Werner Schneider
A country estate, in the 18th century normally the preserve of the aristocracy, was, in Leipzig, a luxury attainable for the bourgeoisie. The exceptional wealth and status of Leipzig's merchant community, resulting from its commercial dominance in mid-18th century Saxony, was naturally reflected in the architecture of the period. Leipzig, the city of commerce and trade fairs, possessed a renowned university and was preeminent in the fields of book and journal publication. The ideas of the Enlightenment were of significant influence on the thinking of the Leipzig citizenry and the city continued to make literary and theatrical history. All this stimulated the development of an independent, civic-based baroque culture which, thanks to its celebrated public gardens, radiated far beyond the confines of the city.
Gohliser Schlösschen was built in 1755-56 for the Leipzig business magnate, Johann Caspar Richter. The ceiling frescos dating from 1779 and the painting Der Lebensweg der Psyche (The Life of the Psyche) by the Leipzig artist and sculptor, Adam Friedrich Oeser (a teacher of Goethe), can still be admired today.
The fact that the palace's history is peppered with the presence of prominent historical figures is, perhaps, no surprise: Körner and his clique, Friedrich Schiller (see Notenrad Station 10) and Robert Schumann (see Notenspur Station 7), who recorded his frequent contact with the palace's then owner, the philosopher, amateur composer and writer, Johann Ludwig Gebhard von Alvensleben. Schumann even graced a matinée given by von Alvensleben in the Gewandhaus on 19th February 1843 with his presence.
By testamentary provision, the palace had become municipal property in 1793. The von Alvensleben family acquired the estate in 1832. The owners in the 19th century, presumably influenced by the consciousness for historical value typical of the age, did not undertake any alterations to the palace. The renovation work concluded in 1998 made manifest much of the original architecture.
Following rectification of the damage sustained during the Second World War, the palace housed the Leipzig Bach-Archiv (see Notenspur Station 18) from 1950 (the year of the first large-scale postwar Bach Festival, the 200th anniversary of the Thomaskantor's death) until 1985. The newly founded Bach-Archiv (Bach Archive) was entrusted with joint responsibility for the creation of the Neue Bach-Ausgabe (New Bach Edition), the publication of Bach's entire output. This was a remarkable venture - a research project of monumental significance, based jointly in Leipzig in East Germany and the university town of Göttingen in the west.
During this period, the palace was not purely the site of research: weekly lectures with gramophone accompaniment familiarised audiences with the music with which the institution was occupied.
The Palace Garden Serenades and the chamber music series held inside the palace were two historical Leipzig institutions which have since enjoyed successful revival.
Internet: Gohliser Schlösschen
Photo: Werner Schneider
Carl Friedrich Zöllner was born the third of five children to the school director, Johann Andreas Zöllner, on 17th May 1800 near Sangerhausen. He enrolled at the Thomasschule (St. Thomas's School) in 1814 in order to cultivate his musical talent. He read theology from 1819 until 1822, not seeing his studies through to their conclusion, however, due to the duties as vocal teacher at the Ratsfreischule he had already undertaken in 1820.
In 1822, Zöllner established a private music institute, primarily devoted to choral singing. 1833 saw the founding of Leipzig's first male choral society by Zöllner, an innovation which led to the subsequent emergence of numerous similar choirs. In a gala to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Schiller's birth, Zöllner conducted the combined forces of twenty choral societies. After Zöllner's death, these societies united to form the so-called Zöllnerbund (Zöllner Federation), which existed until 1945.
In addition to composing numerous works specifically for male-voice choir, Carl Friedrich Zöllner published several anthologies of choral music. Two of his most well-loved choral works - Wanderschaft (Das Wandern ist des Müllers Lust) and Im Krug zum grünen Kranze - are popular still to this day, sung regularly in establishments from nurseries to old people's homes.
Zöllner passed away in Leipzig in 1860. His reputation as the most influential figure in the evolution of male-voice choral life in central Germany lives on undiminished.
Gustav Mahler's Residence
Photography: Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) around 1885
In August 1886, the 26-year-old Gustav Mahler took up the post of Assistant Conductor to Arthur Nikisch at the Leipzig Opera. Mahler's performances at the theatre met with great success, among them productions of Wagner's Tannhäuser, Weber's Freischütz, Beethoven's Fidelio und Halévys Die Jüdin.
In Leipzig, Mahler was made welcome in the house of Carl von Weber, a grandson of Carl Maria von Weber, and agreed to attempt the completion of a fragment of an opera by the old master in the family's possession, Die Drei Pintos (The Three Pintos). The work received its first performance, conducted by Mahler himself, at the Leipzig Opera on 20th January 1888, attracting attention far beyond the bounds of the city to Mahler's compositional talent.
The success may well have motivated Mahler to devote himself to a greater degree to his own creational muse; in March 1888, after only six weeks intense work, he completed his First Symphony.
The fervour with which Mahler strived to conclude his first great opus resulted in the neglect of his duties at the Opera, causing friction between him and both the theatre management and the ensemble members. In addition, Mahler faced increasing resistance from the musicians of the orchestra, due in part to his uncompromising rehearsal style, in part to his competitive attitude towards the highly regarded Arthur Nikisch. In May 1888, Mahler requested to be released from his contract and departed Leipzig.
Hanns Eisler's birth place
Hanns Eisler bust by Fritz Cremer
Hanns Eisler was born in Hofmeisterstraße 14 on 6th July 1898. His mother, Ida Fischer, belonged to a family of Leipzig musicians. Since his father, Rudolf, accepted the post of Professor of Philosophy at Vienna University in 1901, Hanns was raised in the Austrian capital. In Vienna, Eisler received tuition from the composer and music theorist Arnold Schönberg, who later described the young Hanns as being one of his most talented students.
In 1926, Hanns Eisler left Vienna for Berlin. Here he became involved with the labour movement of the Weimar Republic, devoting himself to the composition of "labourers' music" (particularly for choir) and setting Bertolt Brecht's Solidaritätslied (Solidarity Song) to music. Towards the end of the 1920s, Eisler composed the "Song of the Workers", which was subsequently adopted as the communist propoganda song, the Internationale.
In addition to songs on texts by poets as diverse as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Hölderlin, Erwin Strittmatter and Berthold Brecht, Hanns Eisler composed a substantial amount of chamber music, works for the stage and orchestral music. The range of influences on which Eisler's œuvre draws is exceptionally eclectic, including elements from Viennese classicism to modernism, eastern European and Yiddish folk music. Eisler's concerts together with his friend, the actor and singer Ernst Busch, achieved legendary status.
As both communist and Jew, Eisler felt himself particularly threatened by Hitler's rise to power in 1933. In common with many other artists, he chose to go into exile. Via sojourns in Vienna, Paris and London, Eisler eventually decided to build a new life in the USA. His first appointment was as Professor of Music at the New School of Social Research in New York. In 1942, Eisler moved to Los Angeles and began a career as film composer, collaborating with, among others, Adorno and Brecht.
In 1947, due to the political climate resulting from the onset of the Cold War, Eisler was repeatedly called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (McCarthy Committee). The following year, Eisler was declared guilty of being a communist and deported.
On returning to live in Berlin in 1949, Eisler composed the national anthem for the German Democratic Republic (communist East Germany), entitled Auferstanden aus Ruinen (Resurrected from the Ashes). The text was contributed by Johannes R. Becher, later GDR Minister of Culture.
In 1950, Eisler, along with other like-minded artists, founded the Deutsche Akademie der Künste (German Academy of the Arts).
Until his death on 6th September 1962, Hanns Eisler directed the Masters course in composition and served as conductor at the East-Berlin Hochschule für Musik (College of Music) which, since 1964, bears his name.
Schönefeld Memorial Church
Schönefeld Memorial Church
Clara Wieck and Robert Schumann married in Schönefelder Kirche (Schönefeld Church) on 12th September 1840. Why here, of all places, to the north-east of Leipzig, beyond the city walls? Two reasons: firstly, the pastor, Karl August Wildenhahn (1805-1868), was, like Schumann, born and brought up in Zwickau. They were at school together and shared a common love of music. Secondly, Clara's father, Friedrich Wieck (1785-1873), was loath to see his daughter marry at all - if he had to accept a son-in-law, however, then certainly NOT Robert Schumann. In accordance with the customary practice of the age, the conflict was heard in court: Wieck lost the case. Clara and Robert were, understandably, content to wed in relative seclusion.
Their nuptials in Schönefelder Kirche ushered in the most blissful period of Clara and Robert's life together. In her diary, Clara recorded her memories of their wedding day as follows:
"What can I say about this day! It shall remain the most unforgettable of my life! At ten o'clock commenced the ceremony with a chorale, then spoke Pastor Wildenhahn a short, simple address from his heart directly to ours. My entire being was awash with gratitude to Him who led us along such craggy a path, bringing us at last together; my most fervent supplication it was, that it might please him to grant me my Robert for many a long year - ah! The thought, I might once lose him, when it comes to me then rush all my senses into confusion - heaven forfend that such tragedy overcome me, I should not bear it..."
The Schönefelder Kirche sustained extensive damage in the Napoleonic Battle of the Nations in 1813. It was to take the parishioners seven years to rebuild. The church's simple, classically-styled interior has mostly been preserved and is - as is the memory of the famous marriage - lovingly tended to this day.
Zweinaundorfer Park, Mölkau Manor
Mölkau Manor, photo: Werner Schneider
On Leipzig's eastern periphery in charming surroundings we find an estate dating back at least to the 14th century. When Robert and Clara Schumann spent the afternoon of their wedding here on 12th September 1840 they were already familiar with the manor, its park and inn. Almost simultaneously with the development of the parks in Machern, Wörlitz and Püchau, the estate was comprehensively landscaped between 1730 and 1760, resulting in the creation of an Englischer Park: the perceived English pleasure garden style that became fashionable in Germany in the 18th century. Mölkau Manor duly became one of Leipzig's citizens' favourite day trip destinations.
The Napoleonic Battle of the Nations in 1813 put a temporary end to this element of Leipzig's recreational culture; Zweinaundorf found itself in the thick of the hostilities. After the conflict, the ruined buildings on the estate were gradually reconstructed, the manor house itself eventually taking its present form in 1869. The venerable sycamores that grace the estate today escaped ravage in the fighting of 1813 thanks to their size, surviving to witness the two young lovers, Clara and Robert.
The scene of the future Herr and Frau Schumann's courtship has not always, in the more recent past, been subject to the greatest of care. After the Second World War, the manor house functioned as both a school and a teacher training centre; the stables and outhouses fell into dereliction, pathways and avenues overgrew and the bridges were frequently in a state of disrepair.
As if awaking from its slumber, Stadtgut Mölkau (Mölkau Manor) has been completely transformed since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989. The estate buildings have been rebuilt, the manor house restored in the manner befitting its listed status and the entire park rejuvenated, including the restoration of the original network of pathways. Today one can saunter in the shadows of the same sycamores beneath which the newlyweds wandered in 1840 or take a stroll down the newly reclaimed avenue of limes. By crossing the Östliche Rietzschke stream, one can walk to the Tempelberg hill, on which in Schumann's day a pavilion stood - one of the composer's favourite haunts.
The 21 hectare estate with its woods and lawns, ponds and pet park, manor house and restaurant is well worth a visit the whole year round.
At the South Cemetery, photo Werner Schneider
Due to the rapid development of the city during industrialization and the resulting and ever-increasing population, new cemetery grounds became necessary. The Leipzig North Cemetery was opened in 1881, the South Cemetery five years later by Mayor Carl Bruno Tröndlin on 1 June 1886.
The Leipzig South Cemetery is the largest cemetery site in Leipzig with an area of approximately 80 hectares and has every right to be considered one of the largest and most beautiful park cemeteries in Germany. The site was planned to include a conduit of paths shaped like a lime leaf by city planner and important architect Hugo Licht (1841-1923), also known as builder of the New Townhall 1900-1905 and the Conservatory of Music in the years 1885-1887, in cooperation with the horticultural director Otto Wittenberg (1834-1918). Thus the designers referred back to the Slavic original name of Leipzig “place near the limetrees” and created a Gesamtkunstwerk as a tribute to Art Nouveau.
Symbolic of the notable Leipzig people whose graves are in the South Cemetery are the St Thomas Cantors Gustav Schreck, Karl Straube, Günther Ramin* and Erhard Mauersberger, the Gewandhaus Music Directors Carl Reinecke, Arthur Nikisch* and Franz Konwitschny, the composer Sigfrid Karg-Elert* and Hugo Riemann*, music theorist and lexicographer. Also the music publishers Max Abraham* and Henri Hinrichsen* as well as the creator of the Bach monument at St Thomas churchyard, Carl Seffner*, have family tombs or memorials there.
* The short tour from the Music Trek Station at the west gate leads to the exemplary
grave and memorial stones of these people.
The German Music Archive of the German National Library
Old and New united - Music Archive of the German National Library, photo: Werner Schneider
The German Music Archive of the German National Library is Germany's musical memory. Originally founded in 1970 in Berlin, it has been based in the German National Library in Leipzig since 2010. The German Music Archive is tasked with collecting all sheet music and music recordings published in Germany, archiving them and making them available for public use. The National Library began systematically collecting sheet music back in 1943, whereas some parts of the sound recording collection date back to the 19th century. The archive contains CDs and cassettes but also historic sound recordings such as shellac records or piano rolls. By the end of 2013 the German Music Archive held roughly 2 million media units. Approximately 45,000 items are currently being added each year.
An exhibition has been set up by the German Music Archive to illustrate the technical development of sound recordings and reproduction equipment. The exhibits include historical artefacts such as a cylinder phonograph and Emil-Berliner records, but also digital era developments such as hybrid DVDs or Super Audio CDs.
Users of the German National Library can access the stocks of the German Music Archive in the music reading room. The music reading room contains 18 audio work places for listening to digital recordings of music and 4 keyboards for playing sheet music. There is also a reference library containing roughly 5,000 musicological reference works and 30 current periodicals. The listening studio provides an aural treat by allowing users to listen to sound recordings on superior quality sound reproduction equipment.
(To obtain 1 day, 1 month or 1 year admission tickets please contact the information.
Museum of Music Instruments
Courtyards of the Grassi Museums, photo: Werner Schneider
Leipzig's Museum für Musikinstrumente is housed in the Grassi museum complex and is the largest collection of musical instruments in Germany. The Museum offers visitors of all ages an insight not only into the diverse world of musical instruments but also into the handcraft and the artistic and experimental abilities of instrument makers since the 16th century.
The Museum was opened on 30th May 1929. As an institute of Leipzig University, it serves the research and scholarship of this institution, as well as exhibiting its treasures to the general public.
The Museum für Musikinstrumente possesses in excess of 5,000 pieces. The world's oldest surviving grand fortepiano dating from 1726 is on exhibition, as well as five further examples of the output of the inventor of the fortepiano, Bartolomeo Cristofori. Masterpieces from the workshops of Leipzig during Bach's day, evidence of early piano making in Leipzig, a cinema organ, music machines and curiosities of all kind are on display.
The instruments are complemented by graphic displays, 3D musical examples, a hologram installation and a sound laboratory, bringing musical history alive multisensorially.
Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm; special arrangements on public holidays
New Gewandhaus, photo: G. Mothes
The Neues Gewandhaus opened its doors to the public in October 1981. It is home to the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig (Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra), founded in 1743, which assumed its name on taking residence in the newly converted concert hall in the Gewandhaus ("Garment House", the guildhall of Leipzig's textile merchants) in 1781 (see Notenspur Station 21). The popularity of the concerts, and thus the demand for tickets, eventually exceeded the auditorium's capacity, necessitating the construction of a new hall, inaugurated in 1884 (see Notenbogen Station 11). This hall, also named Gewandhaus, sustained severe bomb damage during World War II; the postwar Gewandhaus concerts subsequently took place in the Congress Hall by the zoo.
The Neues Gewandhaus was the only concert hall to be built in the German Democratic Republic (former East Germany). The Orchestra's Music Director, Gewandhauskapellmeister Kurt Masur, initiated the campaign for its construction. The site on Augustusplatz chosen for the new hall was that of the former City Art Gallery, also destroyed in the Second World War.
Sighard Gille's striking ceiling mural in the foyer, Gesang vom Leben (Song of Life), the largest contemporary painting of its kind in Europe, forms the Gewandhaus's figurehead. Illuminated at night, it radiates through the glass façade onto Augustusplatz.
The Großer Saal (Great Hall) seats over 1,900 concertgoers. The hall's crowning glory is its organ, built by Schuke, boasting four manuals, 92 registers and a total of 6638 pipes. The organ's frontispiece proclaims the motto "Res severa verum gaudium" ("True pleasure is a serious affair"), the tenet that has accompanied the Gewandhaus since its establishment in 1781.
The Mendelssohn-Saal (Mendelssohn Hall) accommodates almost 500 people and, in addition to frequent chamber concerts, regularly plays host to conventions, symposia and other events.
Scale models of the three Gewandhaus buildings of 1781, 1884 and 1981, complete with accompanying text and illustrations are on exhibition in the main foyer, open on weekdays from 12pm to 6pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm.
Approximately 800 performances and events take place in the Gewandhaus each year, the most prestigious of which being the season of 70 concerts given by the Gewandhausorchester.
The Orchestra does, however, have two additional "workplaces" in Leipzig: the Oper Leipzig (Leipzig Opera) on the opposite side of Augustusplatz (Notenspur Station 10) and the Thomaskirche (Notenspur Station 17); in addition to staging the concert season in the Gewandhaus, the Gewandhausorchester is simultaneously the orchestra of the Oper Leipzig, as well as for the regular performances and services together with the Thomanerchor (St. Thomas's Boys Choir) in the Thomaskirche.