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The Bach Festival 2017 under the sign of the Reformation

Martin Luther renewed not only the Christian faith: His influence on the music is also legendary. After all the reformer saw in „Mrs. Musica“ a divine art, which is “repugnant to the devils” This year’s Bach Festival in Leipzig will take this into account – and address the connections between the musician and the clergyman.

Music and Reformation: The Leipzig Bach Festival also does not get around the impact of Martin Luther. The reformer had a great significance on the church music in Central Germany explained Bach Festival dramaturge Michael Maul in Leipzig on Wednesday (7th June 2017). At the same time, nobody has set Martin Luther’s Bible translation “so lastingly in music” as the Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Bach was for 27 years Thomas cantor (musical director of the Thomanerchor) in Leipzig. This year's Bach Festival in his honour starts on Friday.

120 concerts and lectures at 34 venues

With the motto „A beautiful new song – Music and Reformation“, the program includes 120 concerts and lectures at 25 venues until the 18th of June, according to the Bach Archive. The main venues are the St. Thomas and the St. Nicholas Churches and the Leipzig Gewandhaus (concert hall). Several music ensembles from Leipzig participate in the concerts, including the famous Thomanerchor, the Gewandhaus orchestra and the MDR (Central German TV and Radio) Symphony Orchestra. There will also be events in Eisleben and Naumburg.

Around 17 000 tickets have been sold to this day, declared the Director of the Bach Archive, Alexander Steinhilber. This corresponds to a capacity utilisation of about two thirds. Around one third of the tickets have been sold abroad, as in the previous years. The largest buyer are again the United States with 1300 tickets, followed by the Netherlands with around 700 tickets.


Altogether, tickets have been sold in 41 countries. “This means that we are international more than ever before”, says Steinhilber. In order to cope with it, this year not only the programme brochures but also the introductory lectures to concerts will be in German as well as in English. Also for the first time, an app for the planning of the festival will be available to the visitors. Via the app, the organisers will also offer last minute tickets for the different events. In order to reach younger target groups, there is furthermore a cooperation with the socio-cultural centres of Leipzig “Nato” and “UT Connewitz”.

16 Bach cantatas are performed

According to dramaturge Maul, the performances of 16 Bach cantatas related to Lutheran chorales are among the musical highlights of this year’s Bach Festival. On 17th June an entire day dedicated to the cantatas is on the program. On this day, the visitors can listen “from early morning to late night in the different matins, in the motets and in the concerts” to the cantatas, says Maul.

According to Maul, another focus of the festival will be on the composers, “who have made a valuable contribution to the setting of the Bible to music”. Thus, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s oratorio „Paulus“ and the „Psalms of David“ by Heinrich Schütz will be performed, among others. It will also not be forgotten that the Catholic music also served as an impetus for the Protestant composers: Heinrich Schütz and Johann Rosenmüller have studied their art in Venice, for example.

A third pillar of the program will be focused on the Era of Bach as a reformatory Epoch for the music itself. At the centre will be, at the 450th anniversary of his birth, the Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643). According to Maul, “he has influenced the occidental musical history like nobody else.”


Source:epd/Bachfest Date:08-06-17