"Eisenach: from Bach to Egk" Top 5 Page for this destination Eisenach by Nemorino
Eisenach Travel Guide: 103 reviews and 371 photos
In this photo, which I took in 2005, the Theater in Eisenach is advertising their new production (by a young stage director named Vera Nemirova) of the most popular and most often performed opera in Germany, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).
When I was here in 2001 I saw a different "magic" opera in this theater: Die Zaubergeige (The Magic Violin) by the German composer Werner Egk (1901-1983). It is a sort of fairy tale in which the character Kaspar is given a magic violin, which enables him to have a brilliant career as a virtuoso, but nearly costs him his life before all the conflicts are resolved.
Since I didn't know anything about Werner Egk at the time, I found it very useful that they had a comprehensive exhibition about his life and work spread out through all the lobbies of the theater. It turns out that The Magic Violin had it's world premiere in Frankfurt am Main on May 22, 1935, and that it was Egk's first major success as an opera composer. He also wrote several other operas, such as Peer Gynt, which was also performed recently here in Eisenach. His operas were often played until well into the 1970s, but not so often since then. (He was not a Nazi, by the way, even though he stayed in Germany during the Nazi period and did not go into exile like his friends Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill.)
Three centuries earlier, Eisenach was the birthplace of the composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). He was born here as the youngest of eight children, and lived in Eisenach for the first ten years of his life, until his parents both died and he went to live with relatives in the nearby town of Ohrdruf. He spent most of his adult life in Leipzig, where he was the cantor at St Thomas's School and the city's director of music.
The Bach House in Eisenach is a good place to get acquainted with Bach and his life and work, since the admission price includes an introductory music lecture with examples of his music played live on five historical instruments (two organs, a harpsichord, a spinet and a cembalo), as well as two recorded selections with a chorus and orchestra.
The lecture I heard there recently was in German, but they will lend you a written summary in Japanese or English, and I suppose also in other languages. (The tourist attractions in Eisenach are very well signposted, by the way, in both German and Japanese.)
The instruments and furniture in the Bach House are old, but probably not old enough to have been used by the Bach family. This was not his baby bed, for example. They aren't even sure he was born in this particular house, but it was in this neighborhood, in any case.
One of the attractions of the Schmelzer Street Festival was this demonstration of spinning thread on old-time spinning... more travel advice
Gotha is a city of 49,000 inhabitants, on the main railroad line between Eisenach and Erfurt. I have been to Gotha... more travel advice
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