Leipzig prepares for year of major musical milestones

Leipzig, the city of music where Bach, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Schumann, and many other musical greats lived and worked, is tuning up for a momentous year celebrating its celebrated composers.

with two major anniversaries for the Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Leipzig Opera as well as the arrival of Latvian Andris Nelsons who will take up the baton at the Gewandhaus next year. The thriving city of Leipzig, in the eastern state of Saxony, will be celebrating the 275th anniversary of the Leipzig Gewandhaus, which also coincides with the arrival of the Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons and the 325th anniversary of the Leipzig Opera.

In addition to these milestones, Leipzig's Music Trail offers 23 stops, from the Bach Museum to the Mendelssohn House where a new permanent exhibition on the talented Fanny Mendelssohn will open in November. September offers a Schumann Festival, which will be a delight for those who can travel on very short notice.

Since the early 1600s Leipzig has embraced music and musical talent. Behind-the-scenes supporters and appreciators of music were crucial in providing musicians with resources and a place to perform.

The Leipzig Opera's prestigious history was started in 1683 making it the third oldest opera house in all of Europe. After being destroyed in WWII, the opera house was rebuilt starting in 1956 and was inaugurated in October 1960 with a performance of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Today, it is a beautiful example of East German 1950s architecture.

Clara and Robert Schumann house
Next year, the opera will celebrate its 325th birthday. The season highlight will be cyclical performances of the Ring des Nibelungen under the musical direction of General Musical Director and General Director Ulf Schirmer, whose conducting skills are in demand worldwide, as well as a staging of Tannhäuser by Richard Wagner's great-great-granddaughter Katharina Wagner.

In 1743, Leipzig's Gewandhaus Orchestra was founded by sixteen merchants who valued music and culture as part of their society. They set the stage for Leipzig to become a musical center. In 2018, the Gewandhaus Orchestra will celebrate its 275th anniversary with the arrival of Andris Nelsons as its new principal conductor, a highly anticipated event, and one of the most prestigious musical posts once dominated by Leipzig's own Kurt Masur.

Since the early 1700s, the two bodies have enjoyed a symbiosis: the Leipzig Gewandhaus has been the symphony for the Leipzig Opera.

In addition to these special anniversaries, visitors can discover the richness of the Leipzig music scene along the Leipzig Music Trail. Over 500 composers have lived and worked in Leipzig over the centuries, including some of the greatest names in the history of music: Johann Sebastian Bach (who was Cantor of the St. Thomas Church), Georg Philipp Telemann, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Gewandhaus Kapellmeister), and Clara and Robert Schumann. Other luminaries include Richard Wagner, Edvard Grieg, Albert Lortzing, Gustav Mahler and Hanns Eisler.

Throughout Leipzig’s Altstadt, or old town, the logo of the music trail is carved into the cobblestones in a bright metal, ribbon-y swoosh. The trail has 23 stops, including the Gewandhaus Concert Hall, the Grassi Museum of Musical Instruments, the Mendelssohn House, the Bach Archive, and St. Thomas Church, where the 800-year old St. Thomas Boys' Choir still sings to this day. Audio guides are available from the Museum of Fine Arts and provide narration and music along the three mile trail.

Among the stops on the trail is the home of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy who was a painted in addition to a composer. On Nov. 4, the date of Mendelssohn's death, the Mendelssohn House will be opening an entire floor devoted to Felix's lesser known but extremely competent composer/musician sister, Fanny. Many sources refer to Fanny as equal to her brother in composition and her piano playing. Although Fanny did compose her entire life and all together created 460 pieces, she did not pursue music professionally as this was not encouraged in women at that time.

Music room in Schumann house
Another colorful twosome were Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck who are said to be Leipzig's most famous lovers from the 19th century. He was the upstart composer, while she was the virtuoso pianist and a sensation at the time.

The Schumann House in Inselstraße is where he composed "Spring Symphony" and the first movement of the Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, the only piano concerto written by Schumann. Today the Schumann House presents an exhibition on the life and work of the musician couple. From Sept. 9 to 17, the Schumann Festival Week will present a number of Schumann's works along with other composers.

For those who enjoy art and culture and especially classical music, Leipzig in 2018 will be an extraordinary trip with special concerts and performances in addition to rich musical history the city has to offer year round.

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Photo provided by www.Schumann-portal.de
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