Bach – that is first and foremost Johann Sebastian Bach. Then it is his music. Next is the family of musicians. And finally it is about the Bach cities and Bach places. It is a number of 33. Bach specialists groan loudly. Some of you, who probably just wanted to have an overlook about the life of the Thomas Cantor, do too. It is actually a total of 33 Bach places and Bach cities!
33 ... that many cities and places are related to the name of one of the most famous musicians, that you may call them Bach cities – or just Bach places – with a little courage. Now don't worry, that is all relative if you read down the page. But complicating it's as well with this theme at the edge of the whole subject.
Bach cities, Bach places. How many are there honestly? When actually is a town a Bach city and a community a Bach place? We could argue about that. We could do so heavily. And we would like to do so. Because this page wants to remain reputable. But clearly arranged. And this website should fulfill the wishes of those, who are just stopping here to get a short impression. But as well those should be happy, who check this page down to the end. Bach cities, Bach places. Aren't these six locations, or nine? Or is 33 correct or 150?
Who wants to judge on the community of Wechmar? On the Bach place of Wechmar, about the Ancestral Bach place of Wechmar? Who wants to exclude this community out of the league of Bach places? As here everything started. With Veit Bach back then. And with Hans the Spielmann, his son. Nobody wants such. I don't want it even more. Wechmar is a Bach place. Hey what do I say? Wechmar is the Bach place par excellence. Period. It's a fact and remains a fact. But ... Johann Sebastian Bach has never been to that Bach place. Does that mean, we first have to arrange all Bach cities and Bach places? When is a town a Bach city, when is community Bach place? And where does the hyperbole start?
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There are locations with different dimensions. Berlin is a mega metropolis. There are big towns like Dresden and Leipzig, and there are small towns. So "Bach city" refers to a large location. But there are villages and communities with some 2,000 residents too. They are definitely no cities, and they are – in particular – no Bach cities. So, because Bach villages sounds a little unattractive, even a little silly, we call these smaller Bach locations Bach places.
There is a total of 12 videos on this Wechmar website. 10 are Bach Music Videos and you will find them on a sub page in the navigation or, for more convenience, click here. 2 more videos are Bach Videos. The difference is, they are with narration, not just one of Bach's works plus nice pictures of the Bach cities and Bach places, one after another.
The Bach City of Eisenach. You see the castle Wartburg (... Martin Luther and so...). Eisenach is the Bach city of all Bach cities. Here Johann Sebastian Bach was born and here he grew up until he was almost ten years old.
Everybody is invited to do it the way he or she wants it. Is that true for me too? That is like it works. Bach cities and Bach places are for me – in this website and on this page – those communities, where Johann Sebastian Bach once had been in person. At least. That is, when we ennoble a city a Bach city, the Thomas Cantor at least had to be there in person once. Borderline already is the fact, that he should have done something related to music at least. Or whether it counts when he just had been there for no reason related to music. I think, he should be travelling in the music business to make a city a Bach city. If not we would have to declare all cities, villages and communities Bach places, through which he travelled, when he was hiking from one place to another. That seems a burlesque to me.
The Bach City of Eisenach, again: city hall. You need one minute* from here to get to the Luther House, in four minutes * you are at the Bach House and the Bach Museum ( *... both hints are walking distances).
Next there are the Bach cities and Bach places like Wechmar and Erfurt. They are listed, as these are cities and communities, which are very important for the Bach history. The Bach place of Wechmar is Bach Ancestral Community. You can't skip the Bach city of Erfurt with more than 50 Bachs of this family in the church records. And Gotha as well and a few more are accepted here. In the list of the Bach cities and Bach places. Gehren is the birth place of Bach's first wife Maria Barbara and is both home and working place of her father Johann Michael Bach, a well-known musician in the second row of the Bach as well. In this category B of Bach cities Johann Sebastian Bach has never been personally. An exception surely is Erfurt. May be Gehren as well.
The Bach place of Wechmar. You see the Saint Viti Church. Probably the first musical Bach was named after her. Viti = Veit. The Bach place of Wechmar is in the order related to the theme of Bach cities and Bach places the exception to the rule, because actually Wechmar wouldn't be allowed to be presented here: Johann Sebastian had never been here. However – Wechmar is and remains a Bach place. And what a Bach place.
You have to deal with them a little, to look for them, to catalog them and to arrange them: The Bach cities and the Bach places in Thuringia, in Saxony-Anhalt and in Saxony. And beyond these federal states. In more federal states. After that you get a clearer view. And an idea, how to arrange them.
Three categories are perfect for all those Bach cities and Bach places. A, B, C. No kidding now: there are those Bach cities, which see themselves as Bach locations, because Johann Sebastian Bach has lived and worked there for a while. Or at least he had married there, like in the Bach place of Dornheim, neighborhood of the Bach city of Arnstadt: they are – in summary – nine Bach cities and Bach places (...my category A). Are you calculating already? Is it correct? Let's begin with Eisenach. Then he moved in to his brother to Ohrdruf and after that he walked up north to the Bach city of Lüneburg. Now we have already three locations until Johann Sebastian finished school. He got his first real job at Arnstadt, Mühlhausen followed, he married in Dornheim and in Weimar he finished his stay in the Bach cities in lovely Thuringia: this adds four locations, which makes it seven. Now it is getting easy. The following era Bach spent in the Bach city of Köthen and in the Bach city generally, Leipzig. Next to last in the Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt, the last in the Federal State of Saxony.
* By the way: My special thank you goes to Aryeh Oron, who provided much information in this chapter.
Photos matching the chapter "Bach cities and Bach places". From here in the order of Johann Sebastian's residences. According to this here is the photo matching the second era of his life in the Bach city of Ohrdruf.
Let's get to the next category which is B of all Bach cities and Bach places. Bach, this term does not only stand for the most famous musician and the most exceptionally gifted organ player in the world, but as well for the largest and most famous family of musicians of all times. And that is official. Those members of the "musical-Bachish family", Johann Sebastian called it the "musicalisch-Bachische Familie", lived in probably more than 100 to 200 cities and communities. To declare them all a Bach city or a Bach place would be ridiculous and a gigantic claptrap. But a few of them are real Bach cities, even without the famous Thomas Cantor had ever lived there. Wechmar is such a Bach place. This category B are Bach cities – correct, or Bach places – which are called that way, because they play that important role in the Bach genealogy. Erfurt is such a city: Here not less than 60 members of the family of musicians once lived – it is recorded in age-old church books. The Bach city of Gotha and the Bach city of Weissenfels and Lübeck as well match into this category. Because in that category B just all Bach places and Bach cities are mentioned, which are related to the family of musicians without categorizing them here is far-fetched. Plus those, which are just not fitting into the categories A or C.
The monument to honor Bach right next to the tower of the Michaelis Church in the Bach city of Ohrdruf. By the way, one of the authentic Bach cities, category A. The monument: ".... und who said it?" Correct, Mr. Beethoven said it. Learn more with a click here.
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We reached category C. Now we could argue perfectly. Are these Bach places or are they not? Does it suffice, that Bach picked up musical instruments personally in Berlin, which he ordered in his time in Köthen? Is Berlin a Bach city for that reason – or is that not enough reason? Is Potsdam a Bach city, just because Johann Sebastian played music there for King Frederick II? Or is that alone no reason? This way you may decide in each particular case: are the following locations Bach cities and Bach places – or actually they are not? However it depends, how deep you want to dive into the theme and discover Bach's life. The good thing? You can just stop reading here.
In general there is the question of all questions in the whole category C: Bach city or not a Bach city? Bach place or just not a Bach place? Well – Bach should at least have shown up there in person. That is what we talked about earlier. And Johann Sebastian Bach should have been underway in the matter of music. And the location should not be a too tiny village, not integrated meanwhile in a bigger community today and of course the place has to be existent still today. So from a number of some 50 locations, which you might call Bach cities or Bach places, still "only" 30 remain. Would you call every city a Bach city and every place a Bach place, which are related to him in the broadest sense, it would have to reach to the residences of his sons and include cities like Milan and London. Then we would count 100 – 200, if we only check on the Bachs in the centuries around the life of Johann Sebastian Bach. It would be surely 300 to 500, if we would allow all locations, in which a family member ever lived or worked until today to be called a Bach city or a Bach place. And that is nonsense.
Crystal clear a Bach city: Lüneburg. But there is no monument and as a Bach city Lüneburg is a little different compared to the places in Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony. However: Bach lived there, he acted there – and both of this not just a little.
The Bach city of Arnstadt. The favorite Bach city of the author of this website. Of course, beside of Wechmar. I see you smiling! Somebody who is visiting Arnstadt, shouldn't miss the Bach place of Dornheim. It's a detour of one minute drive on your way back to the autobahn. And a parking space is always available for you.
The Bach city of Lübeck. When Johann Sebastian Bach extended his vacation for such a long time, than it just has to be a Bach city. Actually we could fight, whether the Bach city of Lübeck is a category B or a category C Bach city. What if you decide?
The Bach city of Mühlhausen. As well one of the "real" Bach cities. Category A. However he didn't stay long back then. Johann Sebastian Bach. At Mühlhausen.
No Bach city. Dornheim. Because Dornheim isn't too small, but much to small. Dornheim is likable and is a Bach place. Or if you like this better a Bach community. Those who are visiting Arnstadt and miss exploring the wedding church and the Bach monument at Dornheim, have no excuse anymore in the future. Because it's only a distance of five minutes drive from the center of Arnstadt. And now you know this fact.
The ending of pictures from Bach cities and Bach places in Thuringia is Weimar. What a city, what a Bach city! And maybe one day, there too will be a museum to honor Johann Sebastian Bach in this Bach city. Who knows it? Weimar makes problems: problems to match it into any order. Because Bach was in Weimar even twice in his life. But the first stay was so short, that most don't tell about. He made music for Herzog Ernst for half a year – later he lived there for almost a decade. Many Bach biographies even skip his first stay at Weimar – we don't. Just a little. By the way, none of these two gentlemen in the pic is Johann Sebastian. If you are interested who the two friends are, please click here.
The Bach city of Köthen. The first of two residences in the working life of the musician outside of Thuringia. Here Johann Sebastian Bach found his paradise and at the same time he experienced a trauma. He stated, he could well imagine himself living in Köthen for the rest of his life (...this is not the exact wording). We know nothing about a similar statement on any other Bach city. However, it was in Köthen where his wife Maria Barbara died surprisingly very young.
The music metropolis of Leipzig. Generally the Bach city. The Bach city of all Bach cities? 29 years Johann Sebastian was living here, was acting here, he was suffering here too, and he was making music. Bach died here in 1750. He is buried inside the Saint Thomas Church.
Well, it would be a very imperfect page about all Bach cities and Bach places, if they wouldn't be at least listed. Here. All of them. As well in the categories B and C. And even if this page is not designed to satisfy you completely, but better, to awake your interest, at least there should follow – clear and brief – just all Bach cities respectively Bach places. You remember...
... "in the broadest sense"... these locations fit into the category B: Wechmar, Erfurt, Gehren, Gotha, Lübeck and Gräfenroda. Plus in the category C fit – not in alphabetical order, actually in no order at all – Hamburg, Berlin, Potsdam, Dresden, Sangerhausen, Kassel, Ammern, Carlsbad (Czech Republic) und Andisleben. For each location there is a photo down this page.
Much more information about all nine Bach places, which are related to the life and works of the Thomas Cantor, is what you get at a real different place on the internet, however it's all in the same style: It's not too serious text and just great photos, videos and here and there, you'll find reliable information, too. However, nowhere not enough fun and nowhere deadly serious. Here, for example, is where you may click, and you get a lot of information regarding all Bach cities and Bach places – and many, many more, really man, many more pictures! Just click yourself real quick to "Bach on Bach" with some 1,000 pages, hundreds of videos and starting in 2017 around 2,000 photos.
The Bach place of Andisleben in Thuringia close to the Bach city of Erfurt. Andisleben is really just exciting for our American Bachs. However: For them it's really more than cool.
The Bach city of Erfurt, the place where more than 60 family members of these Bachs are mentioned in the church records. Honor, where honor is due. You may even discover an Erfurt video (... scroll a little down the page after you clicked) about this Bach city on "Bach on Bach".
A dream of a town, plus this town is Bach city: Gotha. So the next door community, just five minutes drive away from? From the Bach place of Wechmar.
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The Bach city of Dresden. Where musician Marchand once "escaped". And left the victory to Bach without a struggle.
Of course Berlin is a Bach city, because here the band leader Johann Sebastian Bach didn't "only" order and pick up musical instruments. It was here, where Bach experienced the peak of his career, when he performed music for King Frederick II of Prussia.
The Bach city of Hamburg. Almost, Hamburg would have become a "real" Bach city. But to pay for job, that was not Bach's cup of tea.
The Bach city with the highest rank in the category B of all Bach cities and Bach places: Weissenfels. Here Johann Sebastian Bach was consultant of the baronial court band.
A small village in Thuringia is mentioned in the Bach biography of Johann Forkel: Graefenroda. Does that alone allow this village to be a Bach place in the category B?
Potsdam, what a city! Of course Potsdam is a Bach city, as two really extraordinary personalities met right here. Actually it had been three. As Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was present at that meeting as well.
It started pretty harmless: my photography of the Bach cities and Bach places. At the very beginning I thought of five locations, that is Arnstadt, Mühlhausen, and Weimar. And then there is Köthen and Leipzig. Until I realized, that Bach had been learning as well, that he was born and that he had married. Then you learn of the Bach cities and Bach places of category B and finally you drown in a whole category C. But – nobody forced me to list them all here.
However: To make all photos match to one another here in this chapter, I probably have to get there again. To the "Land of the Bache" and may be a little further. To do so, nature has to become really green again, the days have to be longer, the fog lesser and the sun shine longer every day. Then I will project this trips and finally, in the summer of 2017, present these photos here for you.
Until that time, I am permitted to use the following photos from the wikis at Wikipedia here under the rule of "Common License". The authors will be presented in the "copyright section" of this website and this way everything is correct. I thank all photographers for providing these pretty pics.
Here mentioned: how good, there is no category D. Have fun with my selection.
Of course Carlsbad in the Czech Republic is a Bach city. Johann Sebastian Bach accompanied the sovereign of Köthen during one of his trips.
Kassel is a Bach city, because Johann Sebastian Bach travelled to Kassel in 1732, to examine the newly built organ in the Saint Michaelis Church.
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Sangerhausen is one of the Bach places in Saxony-Anhalt. Here Johann Sebastian Bach applied for a first job and almost he succeeded.
One of the Bach places is Langewiesen in Thuringia. Johann Sebastian Bach inspected the organ in the Liebfrauenkirche.
The Bach place of Schleiz. In his time as a band leader Johann Sebastian Bach traveled to the court of the sovereign there for a guest audience.
This is definitely no Bach city, but a Bach village, which is a Bach place. In Taubach there are some 1,100 residents living and that is not before today. Johann Sebastian Bach made a trip to that location, when he was expecting the organ, which was newly built by H.N. Trebs in the year 1710.
Ammern is one of the Bach places and is located a little north of Mühlhausen. There was not a single photo – until I shot this one in the springtime of 2014.
A fountain in the small city of Weissensee. 1737 Johann Sebastian Bach expected the new organ at Weissensee, which was built by C. W. Schäfer.
The Bach place of Wiederau, today with a population of 400 residents, one of the smallest of all Bach places. Here 1737 Johann Sebastian Bach composed his cantata "Pleasant Wiederau, have joy in your meadows!"
The Bach city of Bad Berka, some six miles away from Weimar. Here too Johann Sebastian Bach inspected a newly built organ. He personally cooperated in the planning.
Is Störmthal a Bach city? No, because it is too small, it's no city at all. But it's a Bach place, a Bach village. Today 500 residents are living there. Here 1722 until 1723 Zacharias Hildebrand built the new organ in the Kreuzkirche and Johann Sebastian Bach inspected it after the finishing.
The Bach city of Zerbst. Such a destination makes my next photo tour a special pleasure. In Zerbst Johann Sebastian 1732 made music on the birthday of Prince Johann August zu Anhalt-Zerbst.
The Bach place of Zschortau. Just the crest illustrates the last of all 33 Bach cities and Bach places in the categories A, B and C as well. Exactly 268* years earlier, that is in 1746, Johann Sebastian Bach expected the new built organ in the Saint Nikolai Church here. This number was valid in the year when I edited this text.
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Sir Isaiah Berlin
Sir Isaiah Berlin