Johann Sebastian Bach
A fresh spirit in the royal city
More than 300 years ago, Johann Sebastian Bach shaped the Weimar music scene in an exceptional way, applying his unique virtuosity to take the city to stardom. In 1703, he was granted his first position as a temporary “laquey” at the Weimar court. He returned to the royal city five years later with his wife Maria Barbara. His work as a court organist and “Kammermusicus” proved to be a stroke of luck in terms of more than just finances. It enabled Bach to pursue many different tasks: Playing the organ at church services, and entertaining the court with chamber and orchestral music. It was during his almost ten-year appointment, and later also in his role as “Konzertmeister”, that he composed three quarters of all his organ pieces, as well as a number of cantatas and harpsichord pieces. His Weimar days were also busy at a personal level, with six of his children being born here, including Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel. But it wasn’t just at a musical level that Bach lived up to his reputation as a revolutionary in Weimar. In 1717, he was imprisoned for accepting another position against the duke’s will, and was only released a few weeks later - disgraced.
Following in the Bach family footsteps
Many traces of the Bach family can still be seen today during tours through the city. Bach’s sons were baptised at the Church of St Peter and Paul, while a bust opposite the Franz Liszt University of Music commemorates him, as does a plaque next to the Hotel Elephant. The Thüringer Bachwochen, Thuringia’s largest music festival, and the Bach Biennale Weimar are both dedicated to his work. Bach interpreter Hellmuth Rilling has held his Weimar Bach Cantata Academy several summers in a row, and the Weimarer-Meisterkurse bring together guest professors, renowned soloists and promising new musicians from all over the world to dedicate themselves to all things Bach.