Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mendelssohn's Oratorium in Leipzig

I became an instant fan of Mendelssohn on Thursday night. I heard his Oratorium in the Thomaskirche (St Thomas Church) in Leipzig, a church with wonderful acoustics and a long history of musical excellence, both orchestra and choir.
Bach's burial place in Thomaskirche choir stalls
Bach was music director here for over 20 years and his bones are buried in the choir stalls of the church. He was originally buried elsewhere but in 1945 it was decided to bring the bones to St Thomas for safe keeping. It was considered so urgent that they were dug up and taken by wheelbarrow through the bombed city. The wheelbarrower delivered them to the the church with the words "So I've brought you Bach then". 

I found the Oratorium an emotional experience. Hearing this music swell through this magnificent church sent my thoughts to those departed. I am sure the Mendelssohn family's personal history affected me as well.   I kept thinking of how Mendelssohn would have felt when writing  it. The most beautiful music accompanied the end of the story of the stoning of St Stephen, where he, being stoned, called on God to accept his soul and fell asleep.
From the program
I felt so fortunate to be able to hear this music in this city and in this church. 

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