Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Sunny Saturday in Leipzig

The sun came out for the first time today! To celebrate, we took this picture from our hotel room, out the window overlooking the courtyard and a beautiful 19th century church next door.

Big day today--haircut (19 euros) and met Jon upon his arrival at the train station. His flight from Dulles (through Copenhagen) deposited him in Berlin at 9 am, and he transferred to the Berlin train station for the 90 minute ICE (Inter City Express) train to Leipzig. Great to have him here!

While he caught up on a little sleep, I attended today's "Motette" service back at St. Thomas. The choir, which performed on the front steps of the chancel yesterday, today was located in its usual spot, the choir loft, up and behind the congregation. They have more room up there, which was needed for members of the famed Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, on hand to provide accompaniment for the cantata that closed the service.

I again arrived early, while the boys were finishing up a little rehearsing.

The service included some of the music I heard yesterday, and added Bach's Cantata #32, "Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen." This work, like several Bach wrote, depicts a conversation between "the soul" (sung by a soprano soloist) and Jesus (sung always by a bass). At first expressing doubts as to the constant presence of the Lord ("Dear Jesus, my longing, tell me where I can find you"), the work ends, as is typical, with a jubilant celebration of Jesus' constant presence in the lives of the faithful (Soul: "Now I will never let you go." Jesus: "And I will keep you always near me.")

After a quick swim in the hotel pool, Jon and I headed into town to give him his first look at the sights. We took in the St. Thomas and St. Nicholas churches, the Old City Hall, and numerous architectural wonders, as Jon was quick to point out!

Finally, we arrived at our dining destination, Auerbachs Keller (Auerbach's Cave). This underground restaurant is located within one of the many covered passageways that criss-cross the downtown area. Leipzig having been a major business center for centuries, these enclosed "alleys" are filled with stores, shops and cafes, and give one the chance to escape the wind, rain or snow.

Auerbach's is famous for its inclusion in the famous Goethe tragedy "Faust." This centuries-old restaurant is the first place the devil (Mephistopheles) brings the old scholar Faust in his quest for excitement and life's meaning. "Mephisto" enchants a group of intoxicated students gathered in the restaurant, and Faust rides away atop a barrel of wine.

My interest in this place is especially keen, since my dissertation topic, Hector Berlioz's musical setting of the Faust legend, gave me a chance to research it. And I wasn't disappointed! As you can see from the photos, it's a place that basks in its own history. Faust portraits and trinkets adorn each of the rooms. And the "cellar" atmosphere makes it feel like a cozy hideaway.

We each started with a bowl of yummy french onion soup, waaaay overloaded with tasty cheese and crunchy bread, but who's complaining?? Jon had a venison entree (on the recommendation of a colleague of his) and I had an "au gratin" plate, beef and lamb with potatoes, mushrooms and cheese, served bubbling hot. And all washed down with cold beer...who could ask for more?

Tomorrow morning brings a 9:30 worship service at St. Thomas. Eager to experience the Sunday routine in Bach's church! Thanks to all who've posted comments on the happy to be able to share the experience with you.

Finally, a photo we took in one of the lobby "salons" at our hotel, the Fuerstenhof, originally a banker's mansion from the 18th century.


  1. What a thrill to hear the choir singing Bach...all the way from Germany to Indiana...while watching the Colts currently WINNING against the Jets!

    Sounds like you and Jon had a fabulous dinner. You both have certainly earned some good R and R. Enjoy every minute!

  2. Having seen some of the great cathedrals in
    Germany, I would LONG to travel there
    again to see their magnificence and to HEAR
    their music within..... soooooooo.......
    Why don't you make the connections for
    a GERMANY TOUR for the ISC so WE can be
    the ones seeing the sights and MAKING
    the music...... hmmmmmmmmmmm?
    I'll pack quickly!!!! GodSpeed!!! Lolly