Soon after arriving in Leipzig and checking in to my hotel, I took the tram to Augustusplatz and slowly walked the short distance into the city centre. There was a really nice feel to the place as I passed the new building work in Grimmaische Straße, and the Altes Rathaus overlooking the Markt. And there is the Thomaskirche (St Thomas's church), in a sense the main focus for this whole trip; the place where Johann Sebastian Bach worked for his last 27 years, and wrote so much. Certainly I'd jumped through a great many hoops to be here on a Friday evening, when normally the Thomannerchor sings Bach in the church; in fact I know that this Friday it will be the Choir and Brass Ensemble of Collegium Musicum Luzern.
I took a few photos of the statue of JS Bach (created by Carl Seffner in 1908) outside the church. Then, while I collected my thoughts, chose one of several cafes in the area and enjoyed a pot of tea, plus warm apfelstrudel with cream, ice cream and slices of fresh apple, all lightly sprinkled with icing sugar, and served just as it should be: very correctly. Cafe Kandler, a nice old-fashioned place, which I later noted is listed in the Rough Guide as a tea specialist.
And then into the Thomaskirche. JS Bach was cantor here from 1723 until his death in 1750. I stayed for 80 minutes just absorbing it all, and trying to take some photos to convey the atmosphere – I'm not sure I succeeded. The church has a simple design, apart from its elaborate altarpiece and that wonderful ceiling, and was not at all what I expected. Just simple chairs below the portraits in the chancel, and a small exhibition of original documents and instruments in a side chapel. Super.
I returned to the Thomaskirche later for the regular 6:00pm Friday evening 'Motette', a short service with an emphasis on the music. Settings on this occasion by Bruckner, with organ pieces by Messiaen to start and finish: full details in the Music Trail. I also made another visit on my second afternoon in Leipzig, when the weather was brighter, to try to get some outside pics of the church. Well, they're not winners, but they show it as it is.