Leipzig: The Musician's City

Classical Academy | Composers | Around the World | J.S.Bach | Robert Schumann | Clara Schumann | Mendelssohn


Leipzig, Germany, is one of the most musical cities in the world. It has been home to some of the most famous and influential composers in musical history, beginning with the father of Baroque, Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach lived in Leipzig between 1723-1750 and was the Director of Music at the famous St. Thomas Church. It was in Leipzig that he wrote some of his most famous works, such as the "Christmas Oratorio" and his two great Passions - the "St. John Passion" and the "St. Matthew Passion". His magnificent “Leipzig Chorales” were also performed here for the first time, exploring some beautiful Lutheran hymn tunes. Every year the BachFest in Leipzig attracts Bach-fantatics from all over the world.


In the 19th Century, several other important composers had made their home in Leipzig, including Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (who first brought the Gewandhaus Orchestra to prominence), Robert and Clara Schumann (who lived there in the 1840s), Edvard Grieg (who studied at the Leipzig Konservatorium in the 1850s), and Richard Wagner (born in Leipzig in 1813).


Nowadays the city is home to some of the best ensembles in the world – including the St. Thomas Boys Choir (the Thomanerchor) which is over 800 years old and the Gewandhaus Orchestra. This orchestra has an interesting history, being Europe’s oldest concert orchestra founded by civilians. The name comes from the trading house of the cloth-makers' guild, where the orchestra originally met and performed. In the 19th Century, Mendelssohn transformed it into a top-class orchestra, at is still renowned throughout the world today.


1840, the year the Schumanns moved to Leipzig, is known as Robert Schumann's "Year of Song" (or "Liederjahr") because he wrote so many of his Lieder - songs for voice and piano. In 1840 he wrote 168 new songs! These include some of his most famous song cycles, such as "Frauenliebe- und leben" (Op.42) which you can listen to on this mesmerising recording by legendary soprano Margeret Price and pianist Thomas Dewey.