BMW’S – the Ultimate Distinguished Musicians!

jsbach-at-thomaskirscheMendelssohn_Statue_Thomaskirche

Outstanding Landmarks of Leipzig:
Statues honoring Famous Resident Composers

May I pose, you my dear readers, a puzzle?

Why do the initials B, M, W, and S mean something quite unimaginable when I say that they represent the names of the ‘ultimate distinguished musicians’ born in or intimately connected with a single city in the entire world, namely, Leipzig in Germany?

Any takers? No? They are Bach, Mendelssohn, Wagner and Schumann!

Let me explain: I had occasion in the fall of 1971 to visit East Berlin – which was then the capital of the German Democratic Republic – as India’s sole music representative for participating in the Fifteenth Berlin Festival of Theater and Music.

At the end of the strict formal week-long presentation of performances, on and off the concert and opera stages plus guided visits to educational  entities, the festival organizers arranged as a light relief for some of us to go on a two-day visit (October 15 & 16) to Leipzig at the GDR’s expense.

There we basked in Musikstadt Leipzig, the City of Music Leipzig, savoring a more open and less rigid series of special weekend events: paramount was a performance on the Saturday of a Bach Cantata at the iconic St. Thomas Church, where Johann Sebastian Bach had been the Cantor.

Leipzig_ThomaskircheWe heard a soul-inspiring rendition of his work sung by the Church’s famed Boys’ Choir (seen below in Leipzig’s 1969 publicity calendar.)

StThomasBoysChoir

Thereafter, I was accompanied by Herr Zumpe, Executive Director of the Gewandhaus Orchester when Kurt Masur was its Music Director. He took a snapshot of me outside the Church for posterity’s sake, and a kind passerby agreed to take a photograph of us together before we sauntered off downtown.

OutsideChurchB  selfandzumpe

There we relaxed over a hot cup of coffee and delicious
calorie-laden cake at Robert Schumann’s favorite haunt,
Coffe Baum. robert_schumannThe well-known café  was filled to the brim with weekend tourists, drawn equally by the enticing coffee aroma permeating the immediate vicinity as well as by  its fascinating history.
coffebaumB
Old Photo of 1971: The Coffe Baum
The “famous and beautiful old city” became the crucible for Schumann’s personal self-discovery.  Indeed, he went on to marry Clara Wieck, whom he had first met when she was a nine-year old piano-playing wunderkind.  After his marriage, the young couple moved into a late classical style residence: there was no other building than the Schumann House in Leipzig from which so much great music emanated – including his Spring Symphony plus very many lieder – and to which so many notable artists were drawn.

Next on our itinerary was a visit to the “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” College of Music, where piano and the art of singing are the main subjects taught by a galaxy of well-known musicians and music teachers.

RichardWagnerFinally, I must on no account forget another luminary of Leipzig – Richard Wagner! He was born there on May 22, 1813 and was a composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is primarily known for his world-renowned operas.

Later this month, I’ll most likely be remembering him in more ways than one and linking him to an earlier blog of 2015 that covered the Liszt-Wagner connection in classical Western music. I’ll end with a picture below of his Leipzig home on the Brühl, : he was born at No. 3 there – the ‘House of the Red and White Lions’.

Wagnerbruhl

References:
My personal diary (1970-1975); Wikipedia

Copyright © 2016 Azim Lewis Mayadas

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