Discover the world of J. S. Bach
Visits to the important places in which he lived & worked, including Eisenach, Weimar & Leipzig
Exclusive organ recitals in two churches
Tickets to six concerts in the final days of the Leipzig Bach Festival
Pre-performance lectures with exploration via piano of Bach’s keyboard & other works given by Peter Hill
We stay in excellent, centrally located 4 & 5* hotels in Eisenach, Weimar & Leipzig
Johann Sebastian Bach stands at the apex of a family of generations of musicians, his work drawing on their example, as well as building on and surpassing a range of influences from his contemporaries. Described by a modern critic as ‘the voice of God’, his music combines in the highest degree inventiveness, intellectual mastery and emotional intensity. In his lifetime he enjoyed a legendary reputation as organist and keyboard player.
He held appointments of varying lengths at Arnstadt, Mühlhausen, Weimar, and Cöthen, but by far the longest-lasting post was at Leipzig where he spent the last twenty-seven years of his life as Kantor of the Thomasschule. He had responsibility for the music of Leipzig’s principal churches, as well as being musical director to the university and (from 1729) of the Collegium Musicum which gave weekly public concerts.
After his death, Bach’s music was kept alive by his sons (C.P.E. Bach in particular), his many former pupils and by the music-making of small groups of enthusiasts, and it left its mark on Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. With the publication (in 1802) of Forkel’s pioneering life, together with editions of the Well-Tempered Clavier, the Bach Revival gathered pace, sealed in 1829 by the celebrated performance of the St Matthew Passion directed (from the piano) by Mendelssohn.
This is the career which we shall trace, geographically and chronologically, on this exciting tour when we explore most of the towns where Bach lived, with private recitals on organs in churches where he worked, culminating with time spent in Leipzig for the annual Bach Festival for which tickets for six performances are included in the tour price, including The Goldberg Variations performed by Angela Hewitt and the B Minor Mass.
The visit will be led by Professor Peter Hill, the distinguished lecturer and keyboard recitalist, known for his acclaimed recordings of Bach for Delphian, including the Well-Tempered Clavier, Goldberg Variations and French Suites. Peter will give a short recital on our arrival in Eisenach, and in Leipzig will give several pre-concert talks in our hotel, illustrated at the piano. He will be joined by Tom Duncan who will lead the non-musical visits and our local tour manager, Anna-Sylvia Goldammer. We stay at three excellent, centrally located hotels: the 4* Vienna House Hotel Thüringer Hof in Eisenach; the 5* Hotel Elephant in Weimar; and the 5* Steigenberger Hotel Handelshof in Leipzig.
Day by day
- Day 1: Monday 14 June
- We fly BA from Heathrow to Frankfurt and transfer by coach to Eisenach to stay at the 4* Vienna House Hotel Thuringer Hof. Peter Hill will give a pre-dinner piano recital of Bach keyboard works, after which we dine in the hotel. Wine, water and coffee are included with all group lunches and dinners.
- Day 2: Tuesday 15 June
- This morning we explore Eisenach, the small town where Bach was born. The superb Bach Museum contains displays illustrating Bach’s early life and those of his forebears. From Eisenach we travel north to Mühlhausen for lunch, followed by a recital of organ music in the magnificent church of St Blasius where Bach was organist. There will be the opportunity to explore this lovely medieval town with its remarkably preserved town walls, and to visit the important museum of pre-Reformation church art displayed in another superb gothic church, the Marienkirche. We continue to Weimar where we spend two nights at the wonderful 5* Hotel Elephant with dinner in the hotel.
- Days 3 & 4: Wednesday 16 & Thursday 17 June
- Over the course of two days we shall explore Weimar, a place steeped in musical, cultural and political history – home of Bach, Goethe, Schiller and Liszt, among others, and of the Bauhaus in its early years. Despite its fame, it retains the quiet rhythm of a small country town. In Weimar the organist of the Herderkirche (with its Cranach altarpiece) will give us a recital of works composed by Bach during his time at the Ducal court. There will be guided tours of the Bauhaus Museum and the superb Neues Museum, which covers art and design in the half-century up to 1918, as well as the celebrated rococo Anna Amalia Bibliothek, and there will be time to explore Weimar’s other cultural riches. We have included lunches on both days. Mid afternoon on Thursday we continue to Leipzig for a four-night stay at the 5* Steigenberger Hotel, well placed as it is just beside the city’s historic Naschmarkt Square and the Rathhaus, or Old Town Hall.
- In Leipzig we will attend the last three-and-a-half days of the Bach Festival, with performances in the superb setting of the churches Bach knew, the Thomaskirche (where one can pay homage at his grave) and the Nikolaikirche with its spectacular neo-classical interior. Peter Hill will give daily pre-concert talks illustrated at the piano in our hotel. Visitors to the Festival will find Leipzig en fête, with music by many composers besides Bach and open-air Bach-inspired jazz in the square near our hotel. On our first evening in the city the included concert will feature Bach’s Choral Cantatas BWV 1, 4, 14 and 140, performed by Emmanuel Music Boston, in the Nikolaikirche.
- Day 5: Friday 18 June
- We introduce Leipzig’s remarkable religious and musical traditions via a guided walk, culminating at the fascinating and world-leading Grassi Collections which include applied arts and musical instruments, the latter featuring demonstrations of extraordinary musical automata as well as early keyboard instruments, including a copy of one of the earliest fortepianos in existence by Cristofori. You will then be free for lunch and we meet late afternoon for Peter Hill’s lecture-recital, followed by an early dinner. Tonight’s included concert, titled ‘Resurrection and Ascension’ will be based on pieces by Bach and his son, C. P. E., performed in the Thomaskirche, by the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and soloists.
- Day 6: Saturday 19 June
- The Mendelssohn House Museum is an enchanting environment which captures the sophisticated intellectual atmosphere of this gifted composer and his family and Peter will give a short recital during our visit. After some free time for lunch we have the great treat of hearing Bach’s Goldberg Variations performed by Angela Hewitt. We have an early dinner and tonight’s included concert will feature Choral Cantatas BWV 80, 97, 117 and 192, performed by Netherlands Bach Ensemble in the Nikolaikirche.
- Day 7: Sunday 20 June
- This morning Peter will give his final lecture after which we continue our explorations with a visit to the Bach Museum, followed by a group lunch. We continue to the Michaeliskirche for a Concert of Keyboard Concertos by C.P.E. and J.C. Bach and also the young Mozart, performed by Die Köln Akademie and soloists. After time to rest we attend the final concert of the Festival, Bach’s B Minor Mass, performed by the Gewandhaus Orchestra and Choir, with soloists, directed by Andris Nelsons.
- Day 8: Monday 21 June
- We leave by coach after breakfast and travel to Berlin Tegel Airport for the mid afternoon BA return flight to Heathrow. There will be a ‘comfort’ break mid journey between Leipzig and Berlin.
- Price: £TBC per person
- Single Supplement: £ (Double Room for Sole Use)
1 night at the 4* Vienna House Hotel Thüringer Hof in Eisenach; 2 nights at the 5* Hotel Elephant in Weimar; 4 nights at the 5* Steigenberger Grandhotel Handelshof in Leipzig; all with breakfast
Outward: BA904 Depart London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 1100, arrive Frankfurt 1345
Return: BA985 Depart Berlin Tegel 1645, arrive London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 1740
6 concerts, 3 recitals & 4 pre-concert talks, 4 dinners & 4 lunches with wine, water & coffee, concert tickets, all local transfers, City Tax, entry fees & gratuities, services of Peter Hill, Tom Duncan and our local guide and tour manager Anna-Sylvia Goldammer
Travel to/from Heathrow, 3 dinners & 3 lunches
Weather Conditions for Location in Month are:
Average Temperature between: 9oC - 19oC / 48oF - 66oF
Rainfall: 55mm / 2.1 inches
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.