Thursday, August 4, 2016

Little Paris

A hotel in Leipzig served as our headquarter during my trip to Lutherland. Goethe had studied law at the local university before he continued his studies in Strasbourg. He also explored the city's booming night life so in his later years in his drama Faust he wrote the following scene in Auerbachs Keller: Mein Leipzig lob’ ich mir! Es ist ein klein Paris und bildet seine Leute (I praise my Leipzig as Little Paris that educates its people) alluding to both aspects of Goethe's studies.

The first evening in Leipzig Red Baron listened to Bach's Matthäus-Passion also called the Great Passion at the Thomaskirche where Johann Sebastian had been choirmaster from 1723 until his death in 1750.

Here follows a Google translation from German into English of an appreciation of BWV 244 that eventually turned out not to be to bad but that I still had to fine tune: In a special way Bach's St. Matthew Passion documents the gradually incipient change in Passion understanding since 1670. This is disclosed above all by the fact that in a much greater degree than before traditional styles made room to new forms of expression of individual piety and religious feelings of the listener. We do not know how many of the Leipzig music connoisseurs were aware of the uniqueness of the gigantic work. Bach's calligraphy score he produced in 1736 certainly testifies that his "Great Passion" should serve posterity, the generation of his sons and students as musical legacy. Mendelssohn, who had rehearsed the Passion under his teacher Carl Friedrich Zelter since 1820, had it performed for the first time publicly in 1829.

Red Baron had listened to life performances of BWV 244 before. Here, at the Thomaskirche the English Baroque Soloists directed by Sir John Eliot Gardiner apparently being in awe of the place did not dare shorten the master piece. They were performing the long (full) version that with an interlude of 15 minutes lasted more than three hours. It was hard to sit on a wooden church bench so long.

Again I enjoyed my special favorite aria: Erbarme Dich mein Gott, um meiner Zähren willen! Schaue hier, Herz und Auge weint vor dir bitterlich. (Have mercy, Lord, on me, regard my bitter weeping, look at me; heart and eyes both weep to Thee bitterly). The weeping violin in concert with an alto is one of Bach's strokes of genius.

The following day our group followed a guided tour of Klein Paris. The well-known Bach monument in front of the Thomaskirche is not the oldest one.

There is an older one sponsored in 1843 by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy who had rediscovered Bach as the master of baroque music.

We were given free time for the afternoon and I absolutely wanted to check out the traditional Gasthaus Zum Arabischen Coffe Baum (At the Arabian coffee tree).

And boy I had my fill. Here they served the Leipzig Gose I had been looking for all over Leipzig, the beer that already had been so popular with Goethe as a student. I had my glass of Gose with woodruff syrup (they serve the famous Weiße in Berlin alike) giving a beautiful green color shade to the drink. Do not confuse Gose with the Belgian beer speciality geuze although both beers have the special sour taste.

I started with a speciality of the house, a Ur-Krostitzer Bierfleisch tempura and Bratkartoffeln.

Deep fried Ur-Krostitzer beer meat with cumin-garlic and fried potatoes with onions
Mind you, this Saxon Krostitz has no relation with the Thuringian Köstritz where you find the famous Schwarzbier (dark beer). Here are the coats of arms of the two cities:

Krostitz (©Wikipedia/Flasher)
Köstritz (©Wikipedia/Shorshi2211)
I ended my meal with Sächsische Quarkkeulchen that had been refined by adding cinnamon cream, apple sauce, and vanilla ice cream.

Saxon chops made from curd cheese and sides
In the afternoon I passed a GDR monument in front of an exhibition on Teilung und Einheit, Diktatur und Widerstand (Division and Unity, Dictatorship and Resistance) and written on the side Warning! History may lead to insight causing awareness. The statue symbolizes the transformation of Germany's society from the Third Reich (military boot and Nazi salute) to the First State of Workers and Farmers, the GDR, (barefoot and raised fist).

And then there was music all over town.

Rehearsal of Bach motets at Nikolaikirche

Bach im Bahnhof or Jazz at Leipzig's train station

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