Bach und die Romantik – Bach and the Age of Romanticism
14 - 23 May 2004


There may be many Bach festivals taking place across the world today, but the Bachfest Leipzig is the one with a very special appeal—the city of Leipzig. However modern and commercialised it has become, it still retains some characters that Bach knew and lived with. Such historic buildings as the Thomaskirche, Nikolaikirche, and the old Rathaus are in fact some of the principal venues of the Bachfest. Even though they received some structural alterations, they still possess sufficient atmosphere that impresses you when entering the acoustic space where Bach once stood, enchanted and provoked his audience more than two and a half centuries ago.


Bachfest Leipzig 2004 must be one of the largest, too. According to the estimate given by the Press Office of the Bach-Archiv Leipzig, this year’s attendance was 37,500, of which 23% was guests from abroad. In the space of ten days, just over seventy events were put on show: it consisted not only of concerts and the reconstructed liturgical services of Bach’s time, but also concert tours to the near-by towns, and various seminars for performers, music students and informed public. That was a lot to choose from; sometimes two or more events were run simultaneously. It was not an easy task to decide which one to miss out. I managed to select twenty scheduled events which are reviewed here.

There were many memorable moments in the Bachfest this year that I will perhaps never forget. Naturally, I was drawn to the events that were closely tied with this year’s well-focused theme—Bach and the Age of Romanticism, which has strong resonance with the city of Leipzig where prominent musicians such as Schumann and Mendelssohn revived and actively promoted Bach’s works.

In all, it was an amazing demonstration of how much the city of Leipzig can offer. It is a legacy of the past, of course, as an important trade centre in central Germany for many centuries, where music has been cherished as their heritage. If you have not yet experienced this extraordinary atmosphere, your chance may be next year.

Yo Tomita

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