, West Virginia
September 12, 2003
Inside the door, we paid a small admission and were given a headphone program in
English and pointed to the museum rooms on second floor. Several displays of
instruments corresponded to the audio program’s explanation of music
evolving or coming into favor in Bach’s day, why the composer chose to write for
particular instruments and not for others, dialogues he had with other musicians about the
direction of music in their day. Some members of the Bach family were
discussed and some of the composer’s personal items displayed, but the focus of this
program was his contribution to the world of music and his responsibilities as Cantor of the church and Music Director for the city and its four principal churches.
This was absolutely not boring! Every display has chairs facing it where one can sit while
listening to the lengthy recorded discussions, and each one is interspersed with musical
interludes selected to illustrate each point. We felt at home and relaxed, as though in a
classroom lab, but totally on our own, and we learned a great amount, including a new
appreciation of the composer’s music, which sounds much sweeter and less "mechanical"
to me now! What I think I hear is the perfection that characterized this period in Leipzig’s history up to Bach’s death in 1750.
After the self-guided tour, one can listen in a lab with rows of headphone stations designed for that purpose. Attendants help recommend and locate specific recordings. In addition, the print archive includes the largest collection of Bach’s original work outside of Berlin. There’s more. This home of Georg Heinrich Bose, this Renaissance-era residence of the Bach's friends, formerly housed a famous collection of musical instruments, the deWitt Collection, as well as the Richter Art Collection the poet Goethe so praised. There is also a university collection that includes instruments made by the famous friend of Bach, Johann Christian Hoffmann. Anyone interested in these can ask at the reception desk to be pointed in their direction. We didn’t ask, simply enjoyed listening to "perfect" music in "perfect" surroundings assuring us of a utopian Leipzig past. The narrative took a romantic turn at Mendelssohn Haus.
From journal Leipzig's Artistic Legends