Johann Sebastian Bach Festival in Luther-Country

Love Bach? Love classical concerts? Then Germany is the place to be in March or April. Not just any part of Germany, but the region where Johann Sebastian Bach (picture) spent most of his life: Luther Country. An easy drive, south of Berlin, the German federal states of Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia regularly celebrate the genius of their favorite musical son in style.

jsbachThe major draw this spring is the Thuringia Bach Festival, Thuringia’s largest annual classical music festival. From March 22nd to April 14th, a dozen cities and towns host some of the world’s finest musicians playing Bach’s greatest compositions. And, best of all, the performances of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach are in authentic venues that played a unique role in the life of Bach.

Start with Eisenach, where he was born in 1685. In this charming old city, you can listen to the Goldberg Variations in the Bachhaus, the 600-year-old house that is the first museum in the world dedicated to Bach and his music. Also in Eisenach, you can hear a performance of the St Matthew Passion in St. George’s Church (Georgenkirche), where Bach was baptized.

There are also concerts in Erfurt, the medieval Thuringian capital, and in Dornheim, in the church where Bach married and in Bach Church in Arnstadt, where he held his first post as organist. In historic Weimar, Bach played the organ at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. What could be more moving than listening to the St. John Passion here on Good Friday, March 29th?

Bach was not just a great composer, but also a committed Lutheran. Among his most familiar works is Cantata No. 80, Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott (A mighty fortress is our God), inspired by the words of Martin Luther.

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