St. Thomas Church in Leipzig

Where Luther preached and Bach called the tune

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (Photo: Leipzig Museum of City History/Christoph Sandig)
In 1723 the genius composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) became cantor and choirmaster of St. Thomas Church, a position he held for 27 creative years until his death. During that time he wrote outstanding works of music, such as the Christmas Oratorio, St. John’s Passion and St. Matthew’s Passion as well as numerous cantatas. The staunch Lutheran also dedicated much of his energies to the Protestant chorale. The special importance of spiritual songs for the Evangelical Church had been stressed by Martin Luther himself, who is said to have stated once that “Singing is a noble art and exercise”. More than 30 hymns by Luther have been preserved to this day. Many of them were used by Johann Sebastian Bach as a basis for multi-part music for choir and organ adaptations, which have never lost their captivating appeal. This kind of music resounds regularly in St. Thomas Church during motets and concerts by the world-famous St. Thomas Boys Choir.

Places of pilgrimage for Bach fans

Bach-Museum Leipzig
Leipzig Bach Museum (Photo: LTM GmbH/Dirk Brzoska)
Bach’s tomb lies in the sanctuary of the 800-year-old St. Thomas Church. In front of the church, in the St. Thomas Churchyard (Thomaskirchhof), stands the Bach Monument, erected in his honour by Leipzig sculptor Carl Seffner in 1908, and a popular snapshot for music lovers from all over the world.

Tip: If you want to find out more about Bach’s life and works in Leipzig, go to the Leipzig Bach Museum opposite St. Thomas Church. Here you can find sound experiments, multimedia stations and interactive features as well as priceless originals. A highlight of the exhibition is the Treasure Chamber, in which original Bach manuscripts and other rare items are on display.